I used to work with some really great leaders that always drove me crazy. They were always talking about the latest leadership fad they were reading by Seth Godin, the Harvard Business Review, or wherever. They were obsessed with being “strategic”.
It got to the point where the very mention of the word strategy would send chills down my spine. Seeing how it was used in practice made me associate it with Type A, high strung, tightly wound over-achievers who use “strategy” as an excuse for engaging in pointless navel-gazing on leadership fads for hours and hours without actually doing anything. (tell us what you really think, AJ!)
It drives me crazy. Because while the idea of accomplishing as much as possible is perfectly sound, the people that actually used words like strategy and tactics to describe it usually only talked. And if there’s one thing anyone that knows me knows, I hate it when people are all talk and no action.
That said, I think being strategic in what we do is critically important. And sometimes the most strategic thing you can do is not doing anything at all. I like how Paul says it to the Ephesian church in Ephesians 5:16, warning them to make the most of every opportunity for the days are evil. (there’s no time to waste)
How should I be making the most of my every opportunity?
Tonight, one of my 7th graders started texting me all mopey and obviously in a bad place. We texted for a while, and I carefully chose my every word, considering how he would interpret each message, and writing each carefully so he would know how loved he was. Then we quoted random YouTube videos to each other and made funny faces. After a while I called him up and we chatted. It was the most strategic thing I did all day, but if you listened you would have heard a nonsensical conversation about the most random stuff. It didn’t sound strategic, it didn’t sound purposeful, but it helped build a better relationship. It’s the best thing I did all day.
Another issue for me is that I find myself wasting a lot of time on crap I shouldn’t be spending any time on at all. It’s not strategic, it’s stupid. Need to use my time better. So I’ve resolved (and so far failed) that instead, anytime I’m tempted to waste time, I’ll open the Bible app up and read a passage.
Other times I waste a lot of time and energy on feeling sorry for myself, getting depressed and just general malaise. One of my top love languages are affirmative words, so I’ve saved for years a bunch of the good things people have said about me, and when I feel down, I look through my collection to remind myself I’m not completely terrible. I shouldn’t waste time depressed when I can use that time for something else.
I also need to know how to strategically STOP. I am terrible at this. My name means, “Strong, manly”, and I’ve taken this as my identity. I am the super hero that swoops in and solves all the problems. I hold things together. I keep things going by nothing but my sheer strength. Nonsense. There’s a lot of stuff I’m doing I need to stop doing. I need to rest more. I need to stop a few things now so I don’t break and stop everything later. I need to be just as strategic about the things I don’t do as the stuff I actually do! Nehemiah 6:3 has been strong on my heart lately.
Strategy is just a fancy way of saying you’ve got a purpose and you’re aligning your time and opportunities towards that purpose. Sometimes what you’re doing looks strategic and important. Sometimes it looks goofy and nonsensical. Regardless of how it looks: Be on Purpose.