Today something happened in my soul as I watched Simone Biles stand at the edge of her gymnastics mat at the Olympics. I have never seen her before in my life. Then she did this incredible run, jump and twist in the air and land.
I was blown away. And in any one of those performances my whole gut knots up even at the thought of something going wrong.
What I was not prepared for was the commentators and their shock at what she 'didn't do' and how that twist was meant to be a two and a half, but it was a one and a half and therefore the worst performance of her last ten years.
So I knew NONE of that!
If you noticed in my opening paragraph, I probably do not even know what to call the gymnastics mat, or the run, twist and jump.
But I had noticed something. A look in her eye. A disconnect. A mental exhaustion. And I genuinely felt like I saw it. I saw myself in her. I saw quite literally hundreds of leaders that I am in relationship with around the world right now.
So then as she walked off, came back, told the team she was going to step away so someone else could take her place, you did not expect so much energy to be there as she stood on the sidelines and cheered and encouraged them like crazy.
I cannot tell you what impact this had on me today.
I saw humility
I saw wisdom
I saw gift
I saw grace
I saw costly decisions
I saw a choice to STAY ON THE TEAM
So how about you leader friend? How are you?
And when I say leader friend I mean anyone carrying ANY leadership responsibility.
In the northern hemisphere it is summer and life is only just coming out of full blown crisis mode and this Fall is crucial for what we all do as church leaders.
You may think how I think sometimes.... how could I ever step away from this role even just for a moment to catch my breath?
For example I can't and wouldn't want to step away from being a mother.
And our church community has not gathered for 16 months, I cannot step away from leading them back into this new season ahead.
But what I noticed today is that Simone stepped away from performing and competing. But she did not step away from the TEAM.
What if there is someone else who could do something you have been doing?
In my motherhood that means activating one of my daughters to the food planning (because we ALL know that is NOT my strength). So we decided this week she could begin with meal prepping and then doing the shopping.
On my team I am beginning to tell Andrew exactly where I feel I am no longer useful and, as we re-connect in community, I am really committed to leading where my strengths are and releasing others with the grace to do what I am not strong at doing.
This gives them such a beautiful chance to shine and flourish.
But it also gives me a chance to re-energise after leading for 25 years and church planting for the last 7. I will always, as we all need to in leadership, do things that we do not like or are strong at doing.. but my observation is that burnout often comes when EVERYTHING we do is not what we are good at.
There has to be some wins, a place where we can lead within our grace zone, and where there is an ease and a strength.
I am coaching leaders right now, in many places around the world, and I know locally on our own team, there are many who are overwhelmed thinking about leading again, thinking about re-connecting, about the 'yes whatever it takes', about the pace.
My encouragement to them before we all dive into the next season:
....re-define your best yes
....re-clarify your values
....re-envision your future
There are really crucial spiritual practices, as well (and of course), but I find that clarifying the values, vision and voice work are really important pieces to the longevity and flourishing of a leaders best yes.
There is no better time to do this work than to find some time middle of the year; breathe; ask some of these clarifying questions; really check in on how your soul is; and keep these words before you as you make decisions whether or not to lead right now.
Friend, it is ok to say you cannot perform the 2.5 Twisting Yurchenko right now and what may be best for the team, is to sit out of one competition. And you may not want to get on the mat, but the crucial step for your future and the future of the team who loves you, is talk to people who love you. Let them here your heart. Then stay on the sidelines cheering louder than ever.
My soul feels you right now. And Simone Biles you are awesome!