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Ambitions . . . they keep you going, but they can go bad. Several years ago I was skimming the newspaper and my eyes caught a headline, AMBITION TOO OFTEN OUTSTRIPS EXECUTION. I have to be honest and say that I did not read any further and I didn’t get the author’s name because the title hit me between the eyes. In fact, I stopped immediately, grabbed the closest pair of scissors and cut out that headline and taped it to my desk, just over my laptop. As I am writing this blog, I am looking at the slightly faded and brittle news clipping that has saved my credibility more than once.
As a visionary leader, I am constantly dreaming of what’s next and saying, “if only.” I love reading books on leadership, visioning, and strategy so I do not discount the benefit such reading material has been in my life. However (you knew there must be a catch), I must constantly keep my passion for greater things in check, for it is true: AMBITION TOO OFTEN OUTSTRIPS EXECUTION.
You may be wondering what is so dangerous about being ambitious and how can ambitions go bad?. Here’s another anonymous quote: When your visibility exceeds your ability, it destroys your credibility. Sales and marketing professionals know it is always better to under-promise and over-deliver.
In ministry we might agree to meet with a woman in need, but we know our schedule is uber full and more than likely it won’t happen. We might, with good intentions, promise to fulfill our responsibilities on the ministry team and fall short of the expectation or deadline.
How do you protect your credibility and reign in your ambitions?
Be realistic about your time and energy. Time and energy are finite, when we try to live as though they are not, it is unwise. Are your expectations of your ministry realistic?
Manage your “Yes” - It is hard for leaders to say NO. So try this positive approach . . . say, “I am sorry, but I can’t say yes to that right now.”
Delegate - If you can’t do it, find someone who can. Do you have a list of faithful, trustworthy team members who can fill the gaps and keep things from falling through the cracks? Delegate.
Be sincere - When you know you won’t have time to respond to a need, phone call, or return an email, don’t make excuses, be honest. . . .Just tell me you can’t do it.
Dave Harvey, author of Rescuing Ambition writes, “God’s agenda is to shape us by engaging our ambition.” My greatest ambition is just to hear the words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter into your reward.”