5 thoughts on “Moving from Passive to Active

  1. Great post Chris. I am a passive person and often fight to get to the point as I fear coming off as aggressive. My favorite takeaway from this post: "Just spit it out, man". Adding that to my list of "to do's this year" right under "Just say NO".

  2. One of the areas I find myself to be mostly passive is in interpersonal decision-making. For example, deciding what/where to eat for dinner with family and friends. Often I'm content to defer to their preferences, so I remain passive. Of course this gets maddening when everyone else does the same and no one wants to take the active, decisive role.

    As a fellow leader I echo your hopes of inspiring those we lead to become more actively integrated into the actions of the company / community. One place I often find myself struggling, though, is when it comes to my need to be actively pursuing ways to help encourage and inspire people to become more active themselves, and not just passively expecting them to do so! It's easy to get discouraged when such growth comes slowly, but if it's something that I as a leader am wanting to nurture I have to remember that it takes my active involvement too.

    With regards to encouraging people to live out individual capacity and use gifts without being told (or asked) to do so, I think traditional cultural dynamics concerning leadership work against us. I find it's really easy to quash such efforts from others when I give negative feedback, even if I consider it honest, constructive, or in the best interest of the organization. I'm constantly trying to find that fine line between being "the leader" and sharing leadership with those who are willing to contribute their gifts even when their ideas and suggestions might run counter to the way I envision it all working out in my mind.

    In a way, this is a kind of second-stage movement to action - instead of passively sticking with my preconceived plans and visions, actively incorporating the feedback and direction of others into the larger organization I'm tasked with leading. It's not easy, especially for a type A, task-oriented person like me. I want people's contributions, challenges, and improvements, but ultimately I find myself want people to only contribute and challenge the things I'm already comfortable with. Being actively vulnerable in my vision of what is the "right" action is an incredible challenge at times.

    Thanks for your inspiring post and the opportunity to share where my train of thought is leading 🙂

  3. @Bobbie: Good luck with your to-dos this year! I'll test you at some point by asking you a question that you FEEL like you should say YES to but that you should ACTUALLY say NO to.

    @Rachel: thank you for holding that up. As someone who often takes a long time to make up my mind about things that matter to me, it's hard to be mistakenly classified sometimes as indecisive or passive. So I definitely agree that someone shouldn't be thought of as uninformed or ignorant just because they're contemplative.

    @Matt: Thanks for sharing all of these thoughts! The challenges you outlined - finding ways to actively draw out engagement and application of gifts, finding ways to provide feedback that's honest and useful without being oppressive, and being able to let go of cherished outcomes in the name of collaborative success - are all familiar and ongoing ones. Thank you for naming them! I'll send you some more thoughts/notes privately.


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