Category Archives: Courage

The Naked Lobster for Leaders


Naked LobsterEver thought about how a lobster grows?  Because of its rigid shell, the larger it gets, the more uncomfortable the lobster becomes.  Eventually, it has to shed its old shell in order to grow a new, roomier model.  This process is repeated multiple times (as many as 25 times over the first 5-7 years of its life) until it reaches its maximum size.

During the 48 hours or so that the lobster is shell-less, it’s in grave danger.  (You could walk up at any time with a cup of melted butter, and it would be all over!)  For the lobster, there is no growth without risk.

I see two lessons for us in the example of the naked lobster:

  • You won’t grow without taking some risks.
  • You won’t grow without leaving something familiar behind.

God is calling us to walk with Him, but He doesn’t guarantee that the journey will be “safe.”  The Christian walk can be incredibly scary…if you are doing it right.  That is, if you are taking risks that God asks you to take so that you have to put your faith in Him.  These risks will require that you get out of our comfort zone.  That “comfort zone,” that “familiar thing” you are leaving behind is often something related to your old sin nature.  Like the lobster’s old shell, it should be more and more uncomfortable to you as you grow in your relationship with Christ.  When you realize that it’s dead, it’s time to shuck it off.

As a leader, your “comfort zone” or “familiar thing” could be your leadership position.  How long have you been in your current role?  Long enough to grow a shell?  Are you still growing in your role, or has your shell begun to define your limits?  If you are holding onto your position because it’s comfortable and safe, because you’re afraid of challenging yourself and taking some risk, because you are trying to save face or hold on tightly to something you “earned” years ago through your hard work, you are stuck in an old, rigid shell.  It’s not good for you, and it’s not good for your organization.

The lobster operates on instinct to shed his shell, but unless someone with authority forces you out of your shell, you have to have courage to get rid of it.  You don’t have to take the risk if you really don’t want to.  If you are too afraid to leave the familiar for something better, you can continue to stay in your cramped, little shell convincing yourself that it isn’t so uncomfortable after all.

But let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment….it is starting to pinch, isn’t it?  Do the things that used to motivate you seem boring and burdensome now? Do you find yourself spending more energy holding onto what you have than investing in yourself to grow?  Accept my testimony as someone who has left his shell multiple times (a few times by choice and several times against my will as I tried desperately to hold onto what I had).  God is waiting outside your shell.  He’s calling to you from just outside your comfort zone, and He’ll lead you through the next stage of your growth as you faithfully and courageously walk with Him.

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Filed under Change, comfort zone, Courage, faith, Fear, growth, leadership, trust

Getting Out of the Boat


Walk on Water 2

“Failure is not an event; it’s a judgment about an event.”

~ John Ortberg

One of the most amazing stories of faith and courage occurs in Matthew 14:22-33.  Recognizing Jesus walking across the Sea of Galilee, Peter asked to join Him.  Jesus gave the invitation, and Peter got out of the boat and walked on water….and then he sank.

Peter remembered the wind and the waves, took his eyes off of Jesus and sank into the sea.  Fortunately, the Lord reached out his hand and caught Peter before he drowned.  “You of little faith,” Jesus said, “why did you doubt?”

You might think Peter was a failure.  True enough, he had such little faith that he doubted Jesus’ ability to overcome the wind and the waves.  But let’s not forget that he did walk on water!  Who else has ever done that? And remember, there were eleven other witnesses to the event.  What were they doing?  They were hugging the boat.

I’m sure they were afraid of the risks of getting out of the boat.  They might drown.  Even if they didn’t, they might lose face in front of all their friends by trying to do something impossible.  Their friends might have been offended that they acted like they were better than the rest. Their friends might have thought they were showing off for Jesus.  Jesus might have scolded them for asking to do something that was His job.  There were probably one hundred reasons for staying in the boat, but Peter didn’t.  So, let’s give him some credit.

On your team, which would you prefer – Boat Huggers or Water Walkers?  If you want Water Walkers who take risks, who innovate, who get out of their comfort zone and find new ways to solve problems, you are going to have to redefine the meaning of the word failure.  Making a mistake while trying something new is not failure.  Missing the target while challenging yourself to try a new skill is not failure.  Offering an idea that no one likes is not failure.  Getting bad feedback about a new way of doing things is not failure.

Failure is hugging the boat.  It’s playing it safe.  It’s staying in your comfort zone and refusing to take risks.  It’s sticking with old, ineffective methods.  It’s waiting for someone else to be the first to step out of the boat.

Getting out of the boat means your team members are going to get wet sometimes when they sink.  Your role is to catch them when they fall and celebrate with them when they walk on water.

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Filed under comfort zone, Courage, growth, innovation, Jesus, Peter, Risk