I thought the Dumpling noodle would be a fitting supper meal. But then to my surprise it was mediocre. But thanks to the friendly uncle who gave me a treat The Ice Lemon tea was acceptable.
Questions are always good. And tonight I had some questions from a more Christian small group context, and later an unexpected conversation over a small round table.
It was good because I found myself answering either directly or indirectly to nudge where the questions are leading further, or at times even trying to re-frame the questions, because the fact is our answers are already limited by the questions we ask.
It’s funny how leadership works … this is true whether it’s at the level of a secondary school society, the level of voluntary organizations, church organizations, political entities and so on ….
Very often, we are tempted to see it only about speaking up, or articulating our views, or even well thought out positions, when in actual fact we are confronted with the messy hard work of relationship building, networking with others, compromise as well as persuasion, confrontation and also consensus. It requires a clear head, a listening heart and a posture ready to do what is right, or at least what is necessary to get it right.
Egos always need to be in check. But it’s hard especially when we are not used to deal with competing Egos … some bigger than ours, others smarter than us, or at least more sophisticated than we give them credit for.
The route towards some kind of breakthrough is first to pause and not rush into any rash action. Because that will lead to quick doom. And after a few hard knocks, I’ve learnt the art of restraint. At the end of the day, if it’s not about making an impression, then we do not need to be seen as the victor too prematurely. Time will always be on our side when we know how to pull back a little.
Listening is a difficult art. Because to listen one not only needs to pay attention on what the other person is saying, we also need to keep an ear of the voices ringing in our heads which is often influenced by the baggage of our past experiences good or bad, the people around us for better or for worse (whether selected advisors or self-appointed experts), and also the background noise of the context we are in.
It’s funny because often people assume leadership is first and foremost about leading or even influence, which are key components no doubt. But before one can lead and influence, one needs to have a basic grasp of the current scenario, the players, and the history as well. So, the rare art of learning how to pause and have restraint, and more so active listening is a big hurdle many emerging leaders or accidental leaders find it hard to jump over. Because one is tempted too easily to crash forward with our own ideas.
Human are fascinating creatures. Especially when they are forced to work with other creatures who are unlike them. This is most clearly seen when more than three begin to operate in an organization. For all the talk about informal verses formal ways or organizing oneself, and debates about structures or the lack of it. The simple are of relating to another human being is in actual fact the most crucial and fundamental practice one needs to master … and it’s an ongoing task …
We won’t get it right all the time. And we will hit against the wall often. But what’s important is what happens when we get it wrong, or when we see bumps all over our heads. Perhaps, we should keep on doing the same thing?
But, strange how stubborn we can be ….
On a brighter side, lots of draw from the above lessons for church … NGOs … voluntary societies … families. … anything that is more than 2 people. Opps .. but then again, I have been learning many of these principles after multiple crashes as a young person in church, inexperienced leader, and also impulsive young man …
Good counselors make a big difference. Wise friends are non-negotiable. Friendly critics a great bonus. But of course, we need to be willing to at least pause and listen.
The second art of discernment and deciding what to do next requires another post to explore. For now, I think I need some chips to compensate for a mediocre supper. It walks works for me!