I was raised in a loving household. My parents, Jim and Rosemary, are sitting here over on the right. They taught me to love God. They taught me to help others. I was a good student growing up, but not a great student. Took advanced classes, made some B’s, was an athlete on the rowing team, but never a champion. I enjoyed my life, had fun. I went to college up the road, University of North Florida.
So that was almost twenty years ago now. Today I am a senior business leader in a Fortune 250 company. I have sat across the table from some of the biggest financial investors in the world. I’ve hired MBAs from top business schools and I’ve even gotten in some maybe not-so-smart debates with my CEO (who happens to be a Harvard business grad), and they seem to have gone okay. So, I guess you would call me a leader, right? Well how did that happen? Sometimes I ask myself that same question. I’m not really sure how that happened. We sometimes find ourselves in these situations, right?
Well, I’ll tell you one thing that did happen is that I learned God’s Word. I learned that I was a daughter of God, that I had long suits, that I had abilities; and another thing I learned was that I shouldn’t compare myself to other people, right? This is a key, I think, in leadership and how I have come to the position I’ve been in because frankly, I just started doing my thing. I knew the Word, I knew what I was capable of and I started just kind of doing what I knew was best. You know, I measured myself to the standard of the Word. In II Corinthians 10, verses 12-13 it says we shouldn’t compare ourselves to one another, we shouldn’t compare ourselves to a small group that we hang out with, but that we should compare all of our actions to what God’s Word says. That is the true measure: what God’s Word says about us — and that is the only thing that we can compare ourselves to.
So how does that help me as a leader? Well, you know, one day a couple of years ago I kind of woke up and I had a big title and I was like, “Wow, I have this big title, what am I going to do now?” And I started looking around, and I had grown into the job, it wasn’t like I went from something small to something big, I grew, but I was given a position that maybe was a little bit beyond what I was ready for and that happens to us sometimes in life, right? You wake up and you find out that maybe you’ve been called to do something that maybe you’re not quite ready for. So, guess what, I started looking at everybody else. And I started looking at my peers, and there were a lot of people that were older than me, there were a lot of people that were smarter than me, there were a lot of people that with bigger credentials than me and I was sitting at tables with people that I sometimes felt like I shouldn’t be sitting with, right? And so, I got a little bit freaked out and I stopped doing some of the things that I had always done, and it slowed me down a little bit, to be honest with you. And so, I got some advice from my coach, who is sitting right there, Grilliot, Coach Todd Grilliot, he pumped me up with the Word. He’s a good coach if you ever need one. He kept telling me the Word and telling me the Word. I actually had a boss who said to me, “You know, we really need your perspective. We need that finance lens on the finance person, we need that business perspective with a finance lens.” And I kind of got my stuff together and I started doing what everybody expected me to do, but I had to grow into the role, I had to own it. Stop comparing myself to everybody else.
You know I had another interesting thing happen to me along those same lines of comparing myself. I had a colleague and he and I always would think exactly the same. We were making some pretty big decisions on behalf of the company and I started to notice that our decision processes were kind of the same, you know we had the same judgements and opinions about people and about situations and when I was with him I always felt really, really smart. Cause I was like yeah, Joe’s smart, he thinks the same thing I do, we came to the same conclusions, we must be right. That’s dangerous, too, as a leader, right? It’s dangerous, when you get in this little group, you know the Word cautions you, don’t get in this little group and start comparing yourselves to each other cause guess what, you might all be wrong together. You might all be wrong together. And you know I started to realize that what was the most fun and what was the most impactful was when I was with a group that everyone was different. It was a huge pain, don’t get me wrong. Somedays I would say to myself, “Gosh, I could get so much more done if it wasn’t for all of these other leaders.” You know all these leaders I’m with, they’re slowing us down. But that’s not true actually, what’s really true, and when it’s really fun, when we’re really doing good things is when we’re all different and we’re all working together and we’re all giving our opinions.
And our task and my job Is, we’re trying to do well against our competitors, right? We’re trying to offer a great product to our clients, we’re trying to help people make a good living at our company by being successful, right? So, it’s worthy endeavors, but think about what the holy spirit lens would do, right? For all of you. He told me look through a finance lens, well look through a holy spirit lens. Or if you’re with a bunch of people that have the gift of holy spirit, you’ve got a different lens, right, you’re looking at something differently than everybody else. And guess what, the competition of life that God called you to is way bigger than my company, ADP. We’re a payroll company, we probably pay like one person from every table here; worthy endeavor, but it’s not the competition of life, it’s not what God called us to do. So as a leader it is incumbent upon you when you find yourself in that position, to rise up, to do what you are called to do, to not be afraid, to not look at everybody else and think, “Wow, that person is a lot older than me, that person has a lot more experience. Maybe I should keep my mouth shut.” Don’t keep your mouth shut. Be a leader and speak up and do what God called you to do because He needs every single one of us.