We live in a tremendously noisy world, and leaders suffer the pull of overlapping time requests more than anyone. After getting sucked into many things I wished I hadn’t as an emerging CEO, it took me a while before I really learned how to sense when to move on quickly when something or someone was distracting me from great work getting done.
This powerful quote comes from the biblical story of Nehemiah, whom God tasked with rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. And it’s just as helpful today as it was then.
While the Jews had been gone from Jerusalem, other groups moved in and took possession of the land. When Nehemiah showed up with his plan, these men were not so happy.
Nehemiah knew these walls that were eventually necessary to fortify Jerusalem. God called him to the work, and he listened.
This was thousands of years ago, and people showed up with the same strategies as they would today in an orchestrated attempt to suck Nehemiah down the proverbial rabbit hole.
They told Nehemiah they didn’t think he could do it; what Brené Brown would call “cheap seat feedback.”
They threatened to rebel against him, and when that didn’t work, they told him he was wasting his time.
They criticized him. They made up stories to pull him away and distract him.
They even tried to kill him.
Yet, his answer, every single time, was “I am engaged in a great work, so I can’t come. Why should I stop working to meet with you?”
Pretty straightforward, right?
If there is one thing I have learned is that we need this same exact focus to do great work.
Great work is:
Being still enough to hear God.
Creating direction and clarity for our teams.
Mentoring and teaching others how to lead.
Understanding the why before jumping to the what.
Seeking out mentors and wise counsel when making tough decisions.
Creating enough margin in our work to connect with our kids and spouses.
Holding space for hard conversations and being open to what we contributed.
Honoring truth in every situation.
Being impeccable with our word.
Most times, the harshest voice is the one in our own minds. As soon as I hear it, I try to remember to respond as Nehemiah did.
”Sorry, I’m doing great work.”
Because a with little awareness and focus, the voices grow quieter and great work manifests into something vivid, joyful, powerful and, ultimately, real.
drone video by Laura Meyer- taken with DJI Spark