This week I’m sharing a post each day about five books I read this summer. Today’s book: “The Secret: What Great Leaders Know – And Do” by Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller.
This book is an easy and fun read, written in a narrative style and packed with practical insights for leaders. Those insights also apply to people who simply want to grow as human beings. Two of my favorite ideas described in the book work together – the “Heads Up verses Heads Down” challenge and the Personal Development Plan.
The “Heads Up verses Heads Down” challenge refers to the tension between focusing on the day to day demands of life and work verses the importance of looking up and seeing the future…seeing the big picture. We tend to get bogged down in today and all of its demands. We’re busy. So we don’t make time for thinking about the future…looking at where we’re headed. We don’t evaluate if we’re headed in the right direction. We don’t examine what we’re doing today in light of where we need to be going. We don’t analyze if we’re actually putting our time and other resources toward what we say our priorities are.
Effective leaders must devote some of their time to “Heads Up” issues. If they don’t, their effectiveness will gradually diminish.
The same is true for anyone wanting to live a quality life, be a great husband or wife, have a sound financial plan, or achieve any significant goal. If we keep our head down with day to day activities and never look up to evaluate our lives, eventually we’ll hit some big bumps in the road.
A Personal Development Plan is something many of us associate with work and annual appraisals. You and your supervisor identify areas of performance where you can grow and improve your skills. Such plans are important in the work place, but they also apply outside the work environment.
If I make time for a “Heads Up” evaluation of my life (and the different parts of my life), then I’ll need a plan for becoming a better me. That’s where the Personal Development Plan comes into play. What is my plan for growing…improving my skills…as a husband or wife, as a dad or mom, in making financial decisions, in growing spiritually…
A few years ago, in a “Heads Up” moment, I decided I needed to enhance my preaching ministry. There had been too many occasions when I (or a member of our staff) had an idea, found a video, heard a song, thought of a graphic, etc. that would have made a sermon I preached more effective…but it was too late to take advantage of it…there just wasn’t enough lead time.
The Personal Development Plan I designed led me to begin getting away from Rock Hill three times a year for study retreats during which I work on sermon series six to ten months ahead. The result is we now have time to take advantage of those things and I don’t have as many regrets as I once did. The Holy Spirit sometimes changes the plans and schedule, but I’ve learned that He can speak to me six months ahead as easily as He can on a Saturday night before Sunday morning.
In another “Heads Up” moment a few years ago, I decided Monieca and I were missing too many opportunities to attend concerts and other events we enjoy. So my Personal Development Plan includes having several performance venues in my bookmarks and checking them several times a year for scheduled events. That is why next February we’ll be in Charlotte one evening enjoying “Les Miserables”…my third time to see it.
A suggestion: take a day once a year for a personal retreat and get away from everyone and everything in order to evaluate your life and the different parts of it – “Heads Up.” Then develop a plan to address what God shows you – a Personal Development Plan. You’ll be glad you did it.
Pastor Steve Hogg