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Spiritual Breakthroughs in Difficult Work Situations – Part 4

May 21, 2010

Continued from the previous post.

The next morning I woke up early to spend an extra bit of time in prayer and meditation.

I figured it was a good way to reinforce my conscious decision to surrender the situation to God, and to trust Him completely for the outcome. I had done my best, after all. God knew it, I was sure, and I rested in that.

Maybe I had wrapped too much ego into pushing my brilliant solution onto the organization. The other execs didn’t go for my idea – so what? Maybe there’s another pathway that I can help us all discover. Things will work out, one way or the other. I decided to be open, like a spiritual-leadership-vessel, for whatever God had in mind for this particular project. Yes, a vessel. I like that watercraft image. I’m picturing a nice little 20-foot cabin cruiser?

A follow-up meeting had already been scheduled first thing that morning with the same group of executives, to continue the discussion and determine the direction we would take for the subject at hand. 

As I drove in to work, an unlikely calm and confidence lingered in my spirit. My thoughts began to drift thinking about that upcoming meeting. Now that my idea had been tossed, what should I say? How should I behave towards the team? Humbled, but over it? A little ticked off, to keep them on watch? Should I break into a series of nervous facial ticks, indicating the seriousness of their decision to reject my plan? Then it hit me. What to say, that is.

“Here’s what you do,” God said to me from the passenger seat with a glint in His eye.  “Listen carefully, Bradley: I want you to go in there, and…”  He leaned over and laid out to me his brilliant scheme.

I entered the conference room, calm and unfettered. My fellow executives had a sheepish and hung-over look about them as they were taking their seats. “We didn’t get much accomplished yesterday, did we?” I overheard one saying. “No,” said the other. “We were a disaster.”  They knew they had behaved very badly in yesterday’s meeting.

I stood up and called the meeting to order.

“Gentlemen.” I began, with an earnest tone. “As you know, over the past several weeks, my team has put in a significant number of hours on developing this important project.”

No one could possibly argue with that.

I continued.

“Because of the time that we have invested, I am going to ask that you reciprocate with the respect and dignity to allow me to present the full scope of our plan, without interruption.”

The room was silent. One executive cracked an enormous smile that said, “You go, Mister!”

I kept the momentum going. “Now, I understand that there may be differing opinions, which I welcome. But for the next twenty minutes, I am going to ask you to suspend voicing your thoughts until I have had the opportunity to present the full extent of our proposed plan.”

In other words, keep your mouths shut until I’m done speaking.

No one breathed or moved an inch, so I kept going.

“Once I have completed my presentation, then I am open to discuss any and all ideas you may have. You can even tell me that our plan is terrible and we should start over. I am totally okay with that. But not until you have heard the presentation in its entirety.” 

The group nodded in agreement, relieved to have been called back on track.

The presentation went brilliantly, just as God said it would. It was the very same presentation that was taken hostage the day before, but this time the group listened intently. It was like another spirit entirely had swept through that place before I arrived, preparing the way.

At the end, several people very politely offered some suggestions to adjust the plan slightly. But overall, once they heard the entire presentation, everyone agreed it was good. Not just good, it was great, they said. “Finally. Someone has taken a stand and given us the direction that we somehow could not give to ourselves.”

Well, no one actually said that out loud, but for the next few days, I knew that’s what everyone was thinking.  Because this meeting was a turning point. It was a breakthrough. For me, for my executive team, and for the entire company. We are now moving forward on a transformational plan that will take the organization to an entirely new level of growth and performance. And everyone is excited about it.

In the end it’s all about the choices we make. I had the opportunity to choose – moping, or revenge, or beating myself up, or – hey! How about choosing to surrender the whole thing to God! By letting go and trusting God, I paradoxically gained a better end result. Probably because I was calmer, so I could think more clearly. And I was confident that it would work out, so I wasn’t all stressed and anxious. It gave me the ability to listen to God – and to get the insight for what this group needed.

 Leadership isn’t so much about us taking control. It’s more like losing control, and then getting back something much better, as a surprise.

Photo by nAncY.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. May 21, 2010 6:43 am

    I like the winsome way in which you addressed the meeting: firm yet respectul of others. Establishing rules of discussion is like marking the boundaries of a sailing channel, everyone is relieved to know where the markers are. Some leader scholars would call that establishing a safe holding environment. Others would say its simply speaking the truth in love. Thanks!

    • May 22, 2010 8:10 pm

      Rupert – I notice that you have a phD, which means you probably know much more about such things as a “safe holding environment” than I do. I am just winging it. But am happy that you visited and validated my approach with some scholarly back-up. And isn’t it funny that speaking the truth in love and humility can cut through all the group leadership dynamics and get to the root of things.

      Thanks for visiting, and for your insightful comment.

  2. May 21, 2010 7:23 am

    really, really cool. the frustration, the embarrassment, the simple respect you both offered and received on the other end. i have nothing very educated to offer on it, but what happened in that meeting and in the days following is such a testimony to what God can do when we acknowledge Him in all our ways. wow. He really does care about us in the dailiness in which we exist.

    • May 22, 2010 8:12 pm

      Yes, I have found that to be so true–more so than I ever really could see before – that God cares about all of our “dailiness” (I like that – is this a new word?) in which we exist. Such a relief, too, when we take the time to admit it and surrender up that daily business.

  3. May 21, 2010 7:30 am

    That’s a great outcome, Brad! It’s good to see that God has made such an impact in the board room. I particularly like it that you opted for “working together with God” in stead of trying to fix it all by yourself.

  4. May 21, 2010 8:27 am

    I think that in many times, people are just looking for leadership, someone who will step. While the “no one else speaks until I’m done” tone is a little over the top, the bottom line is that many of these situations just need someone, anyone to put it together.

  5. May 21, 2010 8:41 am

    Thanks for sharing this story – it resonates loudly for me. I’ve been in similar situations often, and haven’t handled them this well. Sometimes it is hard to see whether the positive outcome has to do with our frame of mind (peace and acceptance rather than anger and hostility), or truly God is work in others in these situations. I have become convinced that it is the latter though – partly through our prayer, and partly through the Spirit of God showing Himself through us! I’ve been blogging a bit on how the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) look at work – similar results as I’ve discovered on the only-too-rare occasions I’ve allowed Him control. I think this is what you saw too. Spirit-inspired leadership has awesome impact! Blessings!

    • May 22, 2010 8:14 pm

      Spirit-inspired leadership… That’s exactly what we’re shooting for, isn’t it? I think it is both our frame of mind, which also impacts those around us. It’s like a circular-spiritual thing.

      I will be sure to check out your blogging – looking forward to reading it!

  6. May 21, 2010 1:32 pm

    As Rumi said, “It’s rigged–everything, in your favor. So there is nothing to worry about. . . .”

  7. May 21, 2010 7:30 pm

    a very nice little 20-foot cabin cruiser kind of day.
    great story.

  8. May 22, 2010 10:21 am

    What a brilliantly inspiring example of using our great leadership affirmation (I AM GOD’S LEADER) to transform a business situation. This is precisley what we mean by finding A New Equilibrium. Can you imagine where the downward spiral could have taken the team had you not done the SHIFT.

    Thank you also for your kind mentions of April’s Leadership and Spirituality event at The Erdman Center in Princeton. Can we count on another of your inspiring talks next year? (It’s May 15 and 16, 2011.)

    Bravo mate!
    (PS: The British Accent (see Part 3) needs a tweak or two – you’re somewhere between Prince Charles and Benny Hill.)

    • May 22, 2010 8:17 pm

      Well, coming from you, at least I passed with some British-ness! I’ll take that as a compliment (especially the Benny Hill part).

      Thanks for your inspiration and encouragement!

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