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Is Leadership An Extreme Sport?

My father was my encourager in life. If I wanted to try something new, he was all for it. He was my greatest fan and his encouragement made me feel special. I only have one memory of my father saying a discouraging thing – and that was at my tumbling class when I was 7 years old.

He had watched me struggle painfully for over an hour of attempted somersaults and cartwheels. My tall, lean body was awkward and stiff, while the other petite girls flipped and whirled with ease.

My dad pulled me aside after class and said: “Honey, I don’t think this is your thing.” It was at that moment I began to focus less on things athletic – and shifted to academics where I could perform with ease.

As I wrote Dare To Serve, my favorite research discovery was an obscure doctoral research paper on the topic of extreme sports. In 2009, Brymer and Oades published research on the mindset and effects of participation in extreme sports. Their finding may surprise you.

In the people they interviewed, who pursue sports like B.A.S.E. jumping, waterfall kayaking, big wave surfing, and extreme mountaineering, the researchers discovered a positive transformation in the courage and humility of the participants.

Apparently, pursuing activities that involve a real chance of death transforms us in a positive way, growing our courage for risk taking while humbling us. We learn to realize we do not control the outcomes. Dare-to-Serve Leadership reflects this same paradox.

Leadership requires immense courage and a deeply humble soul at the same time. The leader must call out a daring aspiration for the people – bold enough to risk failure. The leader must give the people confidence that the destination can be reached, yet humbly accept that they do not control all the outcomes.

This tension of the uncertain outcome, combined with the leader’s commitment to help the people reach the destination, yields the conditions for exciting performance results. This is what I call Dare To Serve Leadership; a combination of courage and humility that drives superior performance results.

Intrigued? Prepare to examine your beliefs on what makes leaders great. Expect some provocative, disturbing questions along the journey. Be ready to put yourselves in the shoes of the follower, as you contemplate your effectiveness.

My goal in this blog is to have a weekly conversation with you that helps you articulate your leadership approach and refine your skills. The world is waiting for more leaders that will dare to serve. Will you be one?

0 Responses

  1. Thank you for sharing your very practical applications to leadership. Jesus Christ is the main servant Leader. He thaught us by example how to serve others, rather than ourselves.

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