The last two weeks of one year and the first two weeks of the next can be quite unsettling. The crazy holiday schedule comes to a grinding halt and we get the opportunity to reflect on the year that is ending.

And as quick as one year ends, another one explodes! We make resolutions, set goals, and look ahead with optimism, maybe even a bit of hope.

But within a couple of weeks of those new year explosions, the excitement can go very quiet. The temptation to hit snooze can overcome the will to get to that spin class. Our optimism can collide with disappointment and dysfunction.

Solve or Manage?

I have a mantra which frames up my leadership in moments like this. I don’t live it well on a consistent basis, but it’s the lens I encourage myself and others to look through when things seem confusing or unclear.

The mantra comes from leadership author and podcaster, Andy Stanley. Stanley talks about these kinds of challenges using a powerful question.

He asks, “Is this a problem to be solved or a tension to managed?”

It’s super tempting to treat every challenge as a problem to be solved. We’d rather have these things resolved once and for all. But, haven’t we all learned the flaws of simplistic solutions or easy fixes?

3 Self-Leadership Tensions for a New Year

As a leader, there are three attitudes I’m seeking to embody in 2019. They are tensions to be managed and they reflect places where I toggle between hope and discouragement.

Patient Hustle

Social media has elevated “hustle” to a status symbol. With many of us freelancing or holding contract positions, hustle seems inescapable. But, hustle can become a horrible rhythm. Many of us are living at a pace which is great for our clients, but toxic for our souls.

Leading in complex organizations over the last 15 years has taught me that I’m always tempted to overestimate how much change can happen in the short-term. But, I’ve also learned that I tend to underestimate how much change can happen in the medium and long-term.

Patient hustle means I’m going to give this new year all I’ve got while keeping my focus above the horizon and the tyranny of today’s crises. I’m going to care for those I lead and serve, while also caring for my body, heart, and emotions too.

Confident Humility

I once thought I was the only insecure person in the rooms I entered. Then, I met people who had achieved the success I dreamed of who were just as insecure as I was. Sometimes, swagger is just a fancy mask for fear.

Sometimes swagger is just a fancy mask for fear.

Best-selling author and Millennial expert, Paul Angone, notes, “We’re all struggling. Yet we’re all struggling to make it look like we’re not struggling.”

Instead of being insecure or faking confidence, we need a return to humility. I define humility as a sober-minded view of oneself. Sure, it’s easy to get drunk on our own greatness through likes and retweets online. But, genuine humility is surprising magnetic. What if we owned who we were and embraced that as an advantage, not a weakness?

Confident humility allows us to believe in what we offer to this world, while also remaining self-aware of our flaws and growing edges. Yes, this is quite a tight rope to walk – that’s why these three qualities are true tensions to manage!

Grateful Hunger

As I write this article, I count 54 days since Thanksgiving. It’s pretty amazing how much our gratitude has eroded since that week.

Gratitude is incredibly powerful to experience but equally difficult to maintain. As Black Friday continues to creep closer to Thanksgiving dinner, we’re reminded how the whole world is fighting against our gratitude practices.

As easy as it is to blame others for our challenges with thankfulness, I wonder if some of us have a fear of gratitude. I read an interview with someone last year who noted they didn’t spend too much time thinking of how grateful they are because they didn’t want to lose their hunger for achieving what’s next.

I appreciate that relentless drive, but I grieve for those that walk that path. If our hunger cannot dance with gratitude, we’ll neither stop to enjoy our accomplishments nor recognize when we’re headed for burnout.

Where’s the Tension in Your Life and Leadership This Year?

Patient hustle. Confident humility. Grateful hunger.

Those are the three places I’m trying to manage tensions and grow my life and leadership in the new year.

I wonder about you. Is there a problem you’ve been trying to solve when it just might be a tension to manage? If so, how would you phrase it?

Consider sharing your tension(s) in the comment section below or on your favorite social media platform. After all, just writing down a goal can increase your likelihood of achieving it by 42 percent!

Photo by qimono on pixabay
It’s tempting to treat every challenge as a problem to be solved. But some Self-Leadership Tensions are better managed than resolved.