I’ve recentlyhad the pleasure of watching a feat in college sports that may be difficult to ever do again (originally written in May 2007). I particularly enjoyed this because I am a big fan of the University of Florida Gators, but regardless of who you like, or if you’re even a sports fan at all, you still can appreciate the recent accomplishments of the Florida sports programs.
No other team in college sports history has held both the football and basketball national titles at the same time, especially while repeating as national champs in one of those sports (basketball). As a fan of the sports and the school, I took great pleasure in watching some of my favorite players hoist up those trophies, and hold up the single finger indicating that they truly are #1! You can’t help but to notice the great sense of pride and accomplishment in what they’ve just done.
I believe we can all identify with those players in some way, because deep down I believe we all want to achieve greatness like that.
No matter what you do, imagine being so great at it that no one can stop you! You are the best of the best! If there were an awards ceremony for what you did, then you would be the hands-down winner. In fact, the other finalists would only show up to the awards ceremony not because they had a chance at winning, but to pay their respects to you for what you’ve accomplished. Right now, I know that I am speaking directly to that “self” part of all of us that wants to achieve greatness. It really doesn’t matter in what, we just want to leave our mark.
Well, as a continue through the Proverbs, I noticed something that indicates how greatness can be achieved. Let’s take a look at this portion of Scripture before I break it down to point out the key ideas contained in it:
My son, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,
2 making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
3 yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
4 if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
Before we get into the beginning that includes the “how-to”, let’s first jump to the end to take a look at the result of this IF-THEN principle. The end result of this exchange is that “you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” The first part of this has to do with respect. IF you do these things, you will find respect for your Superior (or authority). But the second part is really interesting to me…
It continues to say that we will “find the knowledge of God.” WOW! Now to really get your head around this one, you really have to understand who the God that’s being referenced here really is. According to the Judeo-Christian beliefs this is the God that created the universe. He created the program that we now call DNA (or the human genome). I could go on and on about the amazing and balanced creation that He made, but I think that you get the point. I just want to point out that the “knowledge of God” is something that we can reach, and something that we can find. Think about that in relation to achieving greatness. We can obtain even just a piece of the knowledge of God? I’m not saying that we can BE God, but I do think that it’s pretty amazing that we can gain some of His knowledge… the thoughts of the Almighty!
Before we move on, notice that this ability is conditional. It’s an IF-THEN principle, which means that IF we do something, THEN we can get what He promises. Let’s break down these IF‘s. In this section, they come in four pairs…
- Receive my words/ Treasure up my commandments with you – We must be open to coaching from others. When people give us feedback, we must accept it and hold on to the words that we’ve been given. Part of this starts with realizing that not one of us has all of the answers, and that we can improve ourselves by listening to the coaching and guidance of others.
- Make your ear attentive to wisdom/ Incline your heart to understanding – Once we’ve received feedback for improvement, we must strive to make sure that we understand what it really means to us. This is more about the idea of finding application for the feedback into our lives. Hearing what someone has to say is not enough, the wisdom must be translated into your actions.
- Call out for insight/ Raise your voice for understanding – I believe that this speaks to a couple of things, but mostly the fact that we should also seek out wisdom from other sources. I think that this especially applies where you may not completely agree with, or understand the relevance of, specific direction that you’ve been given. Many people talk about the value of having a mentor, but I would argue that we should each have several mentors, and a solid foundation for seeking wisdom.
- Seek it like silver/ Search for as for hidden treasures – This speaks mostly to the desire to find what we need. We should be looking high and low to find ways to improve ourselves. I’ve written before on personal development, and believe that this is a key element in our success. Often people get too comfortable with small successes and end up growing stagnant where they are. Lifelong learning should be something that we are all passionate about, and is a requirement for achieving greatness.
In closing, I want to challenge you to look at this from two perspectives. First, are you doing enough yourself to achieve greatness? Let your pride down, and be honest with yourself. Are you really that open to hearing what others have to say? Are you truly open to the sometimes painful feedback that could help you to grow? And are you seeking out wisdom enough? What are your sources? Are they credible?
Second, are you providing and encouraging an environment with your people where feedback is sought after? Do people feel comfortable sharing anything with each other? Try asking them in what way they think that you (as their boss) could improve. Do they fluff up the response so that they don’t offend you? What about the other way around? Do they get defensive when you share with them how you think they can improve? If so, consider how you’re communicating it to them. Are you creating an environment where personal development is a central focus? What books are you all reading together and discussing? Is everyone benefiting from the discussion? Why or why not?
Greatness is not an easy thing to achieve. However it can be achieved by opening up ourselves to personal improvement. The principles discussed here are really just the start, and it’s what comes out of it that requires the discipline to make a part of your life. However, I do guarantee you this…
IF you humble yourself, and seek improvement for yourself and your organization, THEN you’ll see the fruit of your efforts, and many will be able to experience what greatness tastes like.
See more from the management by God series!