Back to School — Are You Able?

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It happens every August or September — the morning rush of parents and kids returning to the school routine. It’s a frantic dance for many, culminating with a drop off at school or daycare or the mad dash for a parking spot at one of our local colleges and universities. Even those whose children are grown can feel it as the traffic takes on a whole new dimension. But for those who are parents, it makes you wonder — am I able? Can I do all this day after day, week after week, year after year. The answer is a resounding “yes!” if you take the time to equip yourself, inspire yourself and brace yourself — because the road can be bumpy.

In this blog, I want to give you some ideas that I hope will be encouraging. Being a servant leader is about being a whole person who serves. Serving is not limited to home or work.

Equip yourself

Everyone is a leader somewhere because everyone influences someone. It’s helpful to equip yourself with a clear definition of servant leadership so you can speak about it and share it with your kids. We have a team member who uses the commute time with her children to find out how their day went. Instead of asking the standard, “how was your day?”, she asks more probing questions like, “who did you serve today?” This question opens the door to sharing servant leadership stories.

Building relationships is another great way to enhance your servant leadership skills. Get to know your boss, and get to know your kids’ teachers. Read about leadership. Join or start a servant leadership small group where you can share your journey with your peers. It’s also important to practice self-care as you serve others. As we have heard many times, you can’t give what you don’t have, so make some time for yourself each day to reflect, relax and take some deep breaths — even if it’s five minutes!

Inspire yourself

Every so often, take a step back and look at the things you have accomplished. If you’re a parent, you are doing or have done the most important work on the planet. Listen to yourself in your children. Sometimes that’s a little scary, but don’t lose heart. Invest time in them and listen to understand them, and you’ll build relationships for the future. If you don’t have children, look at the people you have influenced. As a leader who serves, you are affecting people every day in a positive way. That’s inspiring!

Brace yourself

Brace yourself for dealing with the people who will not understand this service mindset. Sometimes people will use servant leadership as a weapon against you. If you make a mistake — lose your temper, for example — some people will be quick to point out your flaws and say, “I thought you were a servant leader? What happened?” Don’t fall for the trap. You are a human being and you will make mistakes. Stay true to what you know is a better way to lead, be it at work or at home.

Your job with the people you lead and the children you influence is to equip them and then let them go. It’s the best job I know and also the hardest. So equip yourself, inspire yourself and brace yourself. You are able!

Increase your servant leadership skills at the 2019 Servant Leader Conference: Are You Able? taking place March 3-5 in Carlsbad, CA. You will be equipped and inspired to handle the everyday challenges of servant leadership in today’s world.