3 Disciplines Leaders Need to Practice

Staring at my calendar, my heart sank. There was no way I could have overlooked this—but I did. I had scheduled two nonnegotiable events at the same time, and I knew it would be impossible to juggle them. I was going to have to wear my pastor hat or my coach hat, but not both. I can remember the tough conversation that followed as I was forced to inconvenience my wife and kids in order to right my wrong. Thankfully, they were willing to come to my rescue.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only time I had overcommitted myself in that season, and it left me short-fused and frustrated and my family negatively affected. This season forced me to reevaluate some things about myself, my own limits, and how my failure to tap into some key leadership tips really cost me. But you can learn from my mistakes by following these leadership tips. Here are 3 disciplines many leaders often overlook.

1. Permission to Say No

I’m a recovering people pleaser, and I’m learning that I can’t do it all, even when I think I can. Saying yes to one thing requires that I say no to something else, and saying no to one thing frees me to say yes to something else. When we learn to properly use our no, we’re able to save our yes for the most important things. As leaders, this requires us to differentiate what’s good from what’s best.

When we learn to properly use our no, we’re able to save our yes for the most important things.

Look at your current season of life and ask, “What are some things I can do but don’t necessarily have to do, at least for now?” I have two teenage boys at home, so the best thing for me is to focus on them. Playing tons of basketball in the driveway, coaching their sports teams, and watching lots of superhero movies is my life for now, not forever.

2. A Healthy Lifestyle

A few years ago, my wife won a new car at a ministry conference. Yes, seriously. It was an amazing experience we will never forget. Over the years, we’ve done our best to steward the gift we were given to benefit from it for years to come. Whether you realize it or not, the gift of your body is like a single vehicle God has given you to get through this life. Treat it right and use it wisely, and it will reward you with a lifetime of benefits. But misuse or abuse it, and it will cost you. And it won’t just cost you but those you love and lead as well.

Someone once wisely said, “If you don’t take care of your wellness, you will be forced to take care of your illness.” This is why a healthy diet, a consistent bedtime, and regular exercise are gifts you can give to yourself and your family. All these things can make a huge difference in a leader’s health, productivity, and effectiveness.

3. A Spirit of Teachability

Many of our greatest difficulties come because we think we know it all. But if we’re honest with ourselves, we realize no person on the planet is completely right about everything. Jon Acuff said, “One of the greatest dangers in life is believing that all your thoughts are true.” Yet how many of us are guilty of this?

Being teachable makes your life and leadership better. Why? Because teachable people are always growing rather than getting stuck in ruts. They are willing to be molded by others’ wisdom and experience rather than demanding that others be molded to them and their views. Are you a teachable leader? A great way to answer that is to ask yourself these questions:

  • “Do I welcome or resist others’ input?”
  • “Is the way I do things now the exact same way I did things five years ago?”
  • “Have I changed my thinking on anything recently due to other people’s feedback?”

Sound off: Which of these leadership tips holds the potential to change your life and leadership the most?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Is it hard for you to say no to your friends? Why or why not?”