“Gosh, right now my jokes are funny and I’m the best looking guy in the world, but I know as soon as I lose, all that will change.”

This quote came from a man who was recently granted the position of head football coach for a major NCAA football team. If you’ve been in leadership for any length of time, you either grinned or shook your head in agreement. You know leadership is demanding.

Leadership is demanding and often times stressful. As a result, leaders burn out. Their behavior becomes less predictable. They begin making more mistakes. Some are actions unbecoming for a leader. Some mistakes are due to a lack of action. They stop taking care of their own person – mind, body, and soul. After a while, they find themselves in a really bad place. Bad habits, irritation, confusion, and truck loads of stress.

Yep. I can relate. Through the years, I have created and adopted a five step process for shaping leadership within myself and those I have the privilege to serve. The five steps follow the acrostic SHAPE. The “P” in the acrostic represents the Path Principle: Purpose, Planning, Practice. Learning and applying this principle greatly reduces stress while increasing leadership performance.

The Path Principle was birthed out of a biblical proverb: “The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, shining brighter and brighter until midday” (Pr. 4.18).

The Path Principle:

Purpose: Know your purpose and the purpose of your organization. I believe the best purpose statements will center around two words: an “ing” action word and the objective word. For example, my life purpose is to serve by Shaping Character in the lives of leaders and organizations. The “ing” tells me that shaping is what I’m constantly doing. Shaping what? Shaping the total “character” of the person to become who they were created to be. This purpose helps me align my activities with my mind.

Planning: Too many of us allow the circumstances and priorities of others to direct our day and ultimately, our life’s path. This is highly unproductive and most often off course from our chosen direction and purpose. The other common mistake we make as leaders is that we have too many goals. Yes, that’s right. Too many goals. If all your goals are of highest importance, then none of them are important. In our training, we teach the concept of One Purpose, One Goal, One Focus.

Practice: Like the game of golf, too little practice leads to poor decisions (bad shots), wasted resources (lost balls), and double bogey performance (bad score). Leadership requires a clear purpose, effective planning, and relentless practice.

I know this article does not do justice explaining how each of these Path Principles works in daily life, not to mention, the entire SHAPE process but please know that we at Lead Today are dedicated to walk alongside those who desire to walk the right path.


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