Tuesday, January 25, 2011


From Todd Hunter of Monday Morning Insights comes this excellent counsel from Reggie McNeal.

Ever feel totally brain-dead? Tired? Frustrated? Incapable of making a decision? In his book, "Practicing Greatness," Reggie McNeal describes three "brain killers" that deserve special attention for each and every pastor and church leader...

1) Negative people. Leaders need to be aware that when they allow themselves to be consumed by negative people (who seem so often inclined to seek them out), they allow precious mental, emotional, and spiritual energy to be drained off from other leadership pursuits. Obviously, leaders can’t totally avoid negative people, but they can deflect their negativity by creating a mental boundary. So acknowledge their destructive, energy-sapping perspective, but stay on your side of the wall. And adopt a strategy of surrounding yourself with positive people as a proactive strategy.

2) Disorganization. Disorganization is a major brain drain. Not only does it consume time ("It’s right here—somewhere") but it also raises anxiety ("What am I forgetting?"), which is another major cause of brain drain. Even leaders who don’t count administration as a strength can make sure they don’t sabotage their efforts through a lack of organization. They do this by recruiting someone to help them, by availing themselves of technology, and by deciding to expend enough personal effort to get sufficiently organized.

This discussion is not intended to make you feel guilty for finding organization to be a challenge—you just want to defend against having a level of disorganization that creates a brain drain. Of course, some disorganized people don’t even know this is a problem. Their way of life just feels normal to them. You can check this by asking your administrative assistant or a coworker who has exposure to your work habits to tell you if disorganization is something you should work on.

3) Tendency to second-guess decisions. Some spiritual leaders waste energy when they allow nagging doubts, compounded by self-blame, to dog them if things don’t go the way they anticipated when they made a decision. Depending on personality and cognitive style, leaders need differing amounts of information and lead times in order to make decisions. But once decisions are made, the best leaders practice little second-guessing. “Would I have made the same decision with the same information I had at the time?” is a good question for leaders to ask themselves when tempted to second-guess. If the answer is yes, then the leader can move on. If the answer is no, then the issues is to find a better way to make decisions (which McNeal talks about later in the book)…

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