If you are in the business world, you have probably heard of a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. A SWOT gets leaders thinking about everything that could potentially impact the successes or failures of a venture or project.
I have personally done this exercise at least 25 times over the course of my career. And, the funny thing is, the process you use and the factors you come up with tend to evolve as you grow older and more experienced. In other words, you get better and better at assessing what the real factors are that can either create success or lead to failure. I suppose some would call it “wisdom”. It’s things you learn with experience.
As you grow in your business career, you start to learn how to mitigate common threats and how to capitalize on common strengths. You learn to write business plans, come up with financial models, and start to really understand how to assess risk and make “calculated” bets.
This all being said, it has only been recently that I put a certain item in the SWOT analysis. Me. I have learned that if I am honest with myself, this part cannot be left out. And, when I say honest, I mean REALLY honest. The biggest threat to any venture or project I tackle, is quite simply, me. I am my own worst enemy. My flaws, fears, greed, temperament, flaws, pride, habits, and hang-ups have a HUGE impact on outcomes. This is not something they teach you in business school but let me assure you that it is material to business.
On the flipside, my strengths can have a HUGE impact on outcomes as well. If I choose to be realistic about them, know both their potential and their limits, and stand confident in the face of adversity or criticism, they can lead to great things and positive outcomes. However, these can all be quickly destroyed by my weaknesses sabotaging everything, no matter how calculated or planned out things were.
Is there anything wrong with admitting weaknesses? Our society would say yes. Our pop culture would say yes. But I say no, absolutely not. I believe that being honest about BOTH your strengths AND weaknesses is both strong and courageous. It’s honest and authentic, and that is attractive to anyone.
Knowing your weaknesses and limitations allows you to be strong. It allows you to see clearly. It allows you to think clearly. It allows you to make decisions and plans that will not certainly fall victim to those weaknesses.
In a wider sense, outside of just the business world, it has been my experience that people that understand themselves, know who they are, and are at peace with it, are supremely confident (in a good way), and are very effective, content people. This all stems from truth. Truth is the light. Truth will always, eventually, win. Living in the light is much more peaceful and fulfilling than living in the dark.
So, what does this have to do with Jesus and/or leadership?
If we talk Christian theology for a minute, let’s you and I assume that Jesus was without sin. Was he “perfect”? Well, in one sense, maybe. In that, he perfectly obeyed God’s law. But, I believe that Jesus did indeed make mistakes. Remember, this man was a carpenter the first 30 years of his life. I am certain that he did his work without sin, and that he made “great tables”. But, I would bet that he made mistakes. He may have hammered a nail incorrectly or accidently got sawdust in his eye. And, he was a carpenter for a reason, that wasn’t because God made a mistake or just left it to random chance. God designated him to be a carpenter. Do I dare suggest that there may have been things that Jesus was just “bad” at? In this way, he was very much human. We may never know for sure, but we do know that his work changed after he began his 3-year ministry.
Further evidence of this “imperfection” was that Jesus had to spend time in the wilderness to figure out who he was! This time taught him and shaped him. In this respect, his journey on this path to knowing himself was similar to that of yours and mine.
It’s impossible to know who you are unless you are tested – unless you are “tempted”. While Jesus was in the wilderness, the Devil tempted Jesus several times. He offered him power, riches, and even food. After 40 days of being tested in the desert (which I assume was hot, dry, and miserable), Jesus was no longer seeking. He knew who he was. And, he knew what he had to do.
After this time spent in the desert, Jesus began to use the words “I am” when he was describing himself to others. This was because he knew exactly who he was, and he had no uncertainty about it.
Now, remember what this man actually accomplished, as we discussed in last week’s blog. There is NO way that he could have accomplished this if he was not confident in, and sure of, who he was. If he waffled, said he “thinks” he is the son of God, or showed any sort of hesitation whatsoever, the whole thing wouldn’t have worked.
This is the same for a leader of any business. You have to know who you are, and you have to be confident about that.
I am not suggesting that you have to be “confident,” in the sense that we have sometimes twisted the word, to signify someone that is void of weakness, but I use the word “confident” meaning that they have certainty of who they are, both good and bad. Confident leaders are healthy leaders. They are both attractive to others and effective when driving toward a vision. Jesus NEVER broke this confidence. He knew exactly who he was, was consistent, and he did not waiver. He knew that his flesh was vulnerable to things like hunger. And pain. And he ended up enduring a lot of it.
Any leader could learn a lot by how Jesus’ confidence played a role in building a following.