I’ve always been cast into leadership positions. As a boy, I was chosen to be a captain in neighborhood games. As a teenager, it was organized sports in school. Leadership followed me into the Navy and then into the culinary arts field. I worked my way up: sous chef, head chef, executive chef, and then restaurant owner. I’ve served in business, non-profit, and church leadership positions. Now, I’m currently a director with World Relief and a serving catalyst with Lausanne’s church planting issue network.
William Shakespeare had it right, “Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em.” I can relate—not in greatness, but having leadership cast upon me. As an entrepreneur, I was self-taught.
Here’s 7 things I wished someone told me about leadership.
- Time Is Not Money
Growing up where the City never sleeps or if you make it there, you’ll make it anywhere—the mantra is “time is money.” I quickly learned this was untrue. Time is a gift. I gained knowledge, studied people, cultivated relationships, and networked.
Occasionally in the restaurant business, time was my enemy. Or so I thought. If you believe time is money—time becomes an adversary. But you quickly learn: time cannot be defeated, only accepted and enjoyed. Rome wasn’t built in a day. You cannot accomplish everything today. Do what you can, with excellence, and leave the rest for another day. Stop living in bondage to time. No one gets out of life alive.
- Not Making a Decision is Making One
Oh, how I wished someone told me this. Procrastination is a decision. If you fail to be decisive in leadership and trust your intuition, a non-decision may be costly. True leaders take risks. Sometimes those risks may not work out, but it’s always better than procrastination. Why? Failure is a better teacher than success. Procrastination is laziness.
- Sometimes Biting Your Nose Off To Spite Your Face Is Good
I worked for a guy who fed me the tag line—don’t bite your nose off to spite your face—I wanted to fire a lazy cook. He made it clear: wait until the end of his shift.
While somewhat true, when things are not done with excellence, it’s time to pony up. It’s just for a season. A job done correctly is essential if your name is on it. Horrible service reflects horrible leadership. You’re not doing anyone a favor by rewarding a terrible work ethic with employment. If they won’t heed training, let them go. If not, it will come back to haunt you.
- Innovation Listens
Just because you’re a leader doesn’t mean that you have the best ideas. Listen to the people you hired—you hired them for a reason. They will respect you, if you do. Innovation can save time, vitality, and money. As well, a leader should never be intimidated by innovation. Lastly, in most cases, it is better to choose the innovator and visionary for leadership positions.
- Leaders Must Continue Learning
Whatever leadership role you possess, people look to you for vision and guidance. Always keep your skills honed. If you don’t—people will go to someone else. Continue to study in your field. Make sure that you know the new trends, statistics, methods, etc. Knowledgeable leaders produce knowledgeable people.
- A Nap Goes A Long Way
Fact: burnout occurs in leadership. I used to think the harder and longer I worked, the more I could get done. Baloney. A tired body makes mistakes.
“Power naps can alleviate sleep deficits, boost brain improvements to creative problem solving, help verbal memory, along with perceptual, object, and statistical learning. [Naps] help us with math, logical reasoning, reaction times, and symbol recognition. Naps improve our mood, feelings of sleepiness, and fatigue. Napping is good for our heart, blood pressure, stress levels, and surprisingly, even weight management.” Leadership health is very important.
- Always Be Yourself
Stop trying to be someone else—it’s phony. If you do what you love, do it with passion and you’ll be a natural leader. Make your own decisions, prepare for failures, accept them, and move on. You don’t need to know everything. If you’re not appreciated where you are, or you feel that you need to a certain perception to fulfill your role, you’re probably not in the right position. Be yourself.
 George Dvorsky, “The Science Behind Power Naps,” September 26, 2013, accessed February 19, 2016, http://io9.gizmodo.com/the-science-behind-power-naps-and-why-theyre-so-damne-1401366016.