We all invest our resources in something. Sometimes it’s in the right things, other times it’s in the wrong things. But what about people? Are you investing your best resources in the right people?
I’ve been guilty a number of times over the years in investing my resources in all kinds of wrong things. They felt right at the time, but they were wrong for me and my business or ministry. When it comes to people, I’ve made mistakes there as well. Sometimes we allow our emotions to get in the way and spend way too much time, money and effort pouring into someone because we “want” it to work and we refuse to see that it isn’t working. Why? Many times it’s because we genuinely like a person… but sometimes it’s because we don’t want to have to admit we failed or someone we are leading failed. We tend to see that as our own failure.
It also could be that at the heart of who we are, we are a “people pleaser”. I remember someone I had on one of my teams a while back. I genuinely liked this person. But they consistently failed at everything I gave them to do. No matter what amount of coaching I gave them, they would find a reason it wouldn’t work. I spent hours and hours on the phone trying to help them. More than I had anyone else. But they believed I was giving them processes that didn’t work. (Even though they did for others.) They wanted me to figure something out that would work specifically for them. In other words, I needed to re-invent the wheel.
So I took it on myself to find a “new” way to help this person succeed. I pushed myself hard to come up with a way to please them. I gave them multiple opportunities to check out… I found myself exhausted trying to find something new that would work just for them. Did they succeed? No. Neither of us did. This person blamed me because I didn’t come up with something new and I beat myself up for feeling like I let them down.
I finally woke up to the fact that trying to please people just doesn’t work. I had spent time, money and a whole lot of emotional energy investing in someone who really didn’t want to change. I had not made a bit of difference in their life or my own. It drained me. That pretty much ended our relationship with both of us realizing we were not the right fit for each other. It was time to move on.
All those resources could have been spent elsewhere.
Many leaders make this mistake at different times in their lives. For example:
- An executive might spend a lot of time investing in someone who consistently under-performs instead of those who outperform every time. They then wonder why the top performers keep leaving the company.
- A parent invests all their emotional energy in a difficult child and ends up neglecting the child that listens and obeys. The difficult child gets worse and the obedient one begins acting out to get attention.
- A pastor spends most of his time trying to fix the broken people in his church that he has nothing left to develop the leaders who are helping to shoulder the burden. Then he grumbles as to why his strong leaders keep leaving the church.
Does any of this ring true inside of you? It certainly does me. Especially the last one. I’ve been guilty of that one time after time. It took years for me to realize I could not “fix” the broken. But I could lead them to God so He could heal them. What they do with themselves once given direction is up to them and not something I was meant to carry. In this instance, my compassion for the hurting was getting in the way for me AND for them.
So what do you do if you fall into any of these situations?
- Recognize that your resources, all of them, are limited. You can’t give 100% of yourself to 10 different directions. Our time, money and emotional energy have their limits. It’s so easy for us to forget this and then burn ourselves out by over committing.
- Be aware that every time you say “yes” to one person, you’re saying “no” to another. This is a tough one. If you are a people pleaser at all, you will want to say yes to everyone. But that’s not good for you or for them. This is where it is crucial that you allow God to guide you. If He tells you “yes” to one person and “no” to another, it simply means that He wants to use you with that person and He wants to use someone else with the one He says no to. You aren’t meant to help everyone.
- End unhealthy and/or unproductive relationships. This is a hard one because sometimes you can’t end it… especially if it is family. BUT, you can establish strong boundaries so it doesn’t remain unhealthy or unproductive. That person may never change, but you can. Or, and as hard as this is… that person may need to be shown the door. It may be tough, but it could be the best thing for you and for them. They may need that fresh start as much as you do.
- Identify the people you should be pouring your resources in to. In other words, change your focus. This is probably the most important step. Ask yourself some questions:
- Who are the leaders who are still growing in spite of you not investing in them? (Can you imagine how much more they will do when you start?)
- Who are the leaders who represent the vision of where you want to take your company?
- Who are the people who have potential to go from good to great with some strategic time with you? More than likely you’ve just overlooked them.
- Who are the people God is leading you to invest in? He will always lead you to the right ones.
- Schedule time with each of these people. Get them on your calendar. Today I went out to lunch with a friend. We both said at the end, if we had not scheduled this, it would not have happened. What you schedule will happen. Be strategic and deliberate.
- Recognize your team needs you! If you spend as much of your resources with the right people as you did with the wrong ones, your team will grow… your company will grow… and the team members that weren’t growing might finally get the help they need from one of your newly developed leaders. Remember… you can’t fix everyone. It may be that someone on your team is the right fit and not you.
Yes, Jesus spent time with the broken. He was the Healer to the sick and He comforted the broken-hearted. He regularly reached out to the outcasts. He had GREAT compassion and love for the wounded.
BUT… He spent the majority of His time and resources on building His leaders. He knew that He was just one person. Twelve people could reach far more people than one. He was strategic and proactive in investing in them as leaders. He knew it was through them that His mission would be carried out to the world.
Are we to be any different? When we pour our resources into building up the right people, we’ll be laying a much stronger foundation for the future of our company and everyone around us.
What resource changes do you need to make in your life?