I have found some of the most helpful books for me as a leader focused on my issues! You may think that is obvious, but it wasn’t always so. I used to think if something didn’t work out, it was because of the events around me, my team, or the timing, but seldom did I consider the fact that I was the problem. About twenty years ago, I went through eight administrative assistants in eight years. I could easily explain why each didn’t work out long-term. However, I had to admit that I was the common denominator. I was the problem!
I have always tried to understand why people behave as they do. I have read and studied this subject throughout my life. But when I left the church plant after almost fifteen years, I felt like a failure. That is when I began the process of looking inward. I began to better understand that I could only change Greg Wiens. I didn’t need to worry about changing anyone else, even Mary Kay. Only me. So the last twenty-plus years have been a great process of learning about me.
Initially, I was challenged during this time when I read a book by Friedman (A Failure of Nerve), which helped me look at how my insecurities needed to be addressed. I realized after reading the book that much of Friedman’s work was based on Family Systems theory by Murray Bowen. Subsequently, books by Shitama (Anxious Church, Anxious People & If You Met My Family, You’d Understand), Gilbert (Extraordinary Relationships), and Brown (Growing Yourself Up) further clarified the unhealthy ways I related to others in order to meet my own needs.
In the last book, Jenny Brown highlights three common patterns in marriage relationships: 1) Conflict/intimate dance, 2) Over-functioning/Under-functioning roles, and 3) Triangulation. I can see some of all three of these patterns in the way I relate to Mary Kay. As we talked about these in our marriage, our conversation became more anxious despite each of us talking about our own dysfunctional issues.
I have come to deeply grasp the fact that I can only work on Greg. I am now working on being self-defined and not looking to others changing as the criteria for success in my relationships. I am, therefore, learning to ask questions of others and not give advice.
For most of my life, I have tried to fix others. No one likes to be “fixed,” it just doesn’t work. I have learned to ask God for the wisdom to ask QUESTIONS rather than give ANSWERS. Rather than giving reasons for others’ logic or feelings being faulty, I am learning to ask questions of them so they can take responsibility for their own maturity. So often in the past, I have assumed responsibility for others’ growth.
I am learning to keep from “telling” others what is true, right, or what they should do. I must not fall into the giving advice trap, which so easily besets me.
I have been a teller for much of my life. I am much more comfortable telling others rather than asking from them.
- I have tried to prove my worthiness by demonstrating competence rather than helping others achieve what they can in their own lives.
- I have tried to achieve significance through helping others change rather than seeking to create an environment for them to choose to change.
I know this is a thin line of distinction between these two objectives, but the difference is important. Where I get my significance from is radically different depending on which of these two objectives I pursue. Is it from others changing, or is it from creating an environment for them to change? I must be content in creating environments for change. I must be content in being a person who can allow others to see themselves as agents in their own maturity. Period.
Too many times, I have fallen into the trap of trying to change others rather than just being the person God can use to bring about change in others. My emphasis is now on being the kind of person who speaks the truth with love and not whether they change.
This is freeing.
As I can continue to grow in this direction, not only is it changing my marriage and my relationships, but also my professional impact. Why am I only learning this at sixty-nine years of age? Lord, give me some years to realize this change in my life more fully. Hopefully, as I work with others, they won’t have to wait until they are almost 70 to see similar changes in their lives.