Friday, August 2, 2013

Aiming High by Kathy McGowan

Leaders Need to Aim High
I believe that we expect too little of our congregants and congregations.  People want to make a difference in this world and they want to work along side people who are “movers and shakers” -people who are putting their values into action.  
I see many congregations that collectively have a low sense of self worth.  It is no wonder that they are not thriving.  I do not think the answer is giving them small tasks so that they can achieve small goals in order to feel better about themselves.  I think that we need to have a big vision of the future; a vision big enough to rock the world with our Unitarian Universalist values.
We can create this vision by embracing leaders who challenge us to become our best selves and whom we challenge to ask the big questions.  It is through asking the important questions and challenging our assumptions that we can make the impossible, possible.  Our liberal religion demands of us nothing less for this hurting world.
Think about a time in your life when you felt good about something that you achieved. Was it easy?  Probably not.  Did you feel more capable once on the other side of that challenge?  Probably.  People actually get smarter by being challenged.
In their book, Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smart, Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown wrote of a certain kind of leaders, “multipliers”.  They write, “Multipliers understand that people grow through challenge.  They  understand that intelligence grows by being stretched and tested.  So even if the leader has a clear vision of the direction, he or she doesn’t just give it to people.  Multipliers don’t just give answers.  They provide just enough information to provoke thinking and to help people discover and see the opportunity for themselves.  They begin a process of discovery.”
I believe that in our congregations we do not set the bar high enough.  There will always be solid reasons for not doing things in congregations.  Always.  But if the purpose is clear (mission), the good questions are asked, the assumptions shaken off, there is no telling where we might go.  
So I say raise the bar high.  Let’s create congregations where people are challenged, smarter, confident and making a difference.  Let’s rock the world with our wonderful UUness.