I was attending an event where some young, emerging leaders were wanting to take pictures with some well-known people in the room. They were strategizing about how they were going to approach them. I overheard them, approached them, and said, "Act like you have been here." They looked at me and you could tell they were thinking, "What in the world is he talking about?" I went on and told them, as God begins to unleash your leadership you don't want to be seen as the 'fan boys,' you want people to respect you don't need a picture for social media clout!
Vince Lombardi said in 1967 to kick returner, Travis Williams, when Williams danced after scoring a touchdown: “Travis, the next time you make it to the end zone, act like you’ve been there before.” In other words, don't be surprised with the success you get because you worked hard to get there and you must expect good things to happen. Small wins matter, but when your lifelong faithfulness to your mission turns to fruitfulness - act like you have been here!
Leaders who live life unleashed know that success, promotion, and elevation can change you. It can adjust your typical response mechanics, inflate your ego, and even allow you fake celebrations.
Don't be surprised at success.
If you have been diligent and consistent you should not be shocked when your leadership becomes celebrated. As you walk into rooms with people you don't think you deserve to share the same oxygen breath. You would not be there if you did not belong there!
Success finds it's way to those who work for it. The Bible declares, "Remember the LORD your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful ..." (Deuteronomy 8:18). That does not mean God just magically makes you an overnight success, but it simply means He gave you the capacity to use your ability to become what He designed you to be. And when you find success, act like you have been here.
Refuse to allow small moments to distract your from your specific mission.
There have been times in my leadership journey where I have allowed really small things, in the scheme of mission, to be more celebrated than the success of my mission. I would celebrate this invite, or that opportunity, but they distracted me from fulfilling my specific mission. For example, I am a pastor. Because of that reality I don't do foreign mission trips! I stay local and loyal. Everything I do, schedule, plan, or invest in must be to build my local church! Every business leader, CEO, stay-at-home-parent, or barista needs to stay loyal to their mission. Don't get distracted by the sideshow opportunities.
Strong leaders celebrate small wins, but they will not make the small wins their mission. They always push toward mission critical objectives. Too many leaders develop, what I call, lateral leadership syndrome (LLS). LLS is simply a leadership toxin that keeps a leader moving laterally instead of forward. I see it in every genre of leadership. They have activity, but not progress. Movement does not mean advancement. Don't get infected with LLS.
Preparation should be your priority. Leaders are preparing every day for what could happen and when it does they act like they have been here!
Surround yourself with people who have been there before.
Yep, this matters. If you are spending so much time with self-promoters or self-elevators you will become the same. Those are the individuals who always need a picture, always need a quote, always need affirmation. If you are around them you will live for the affirmation of others. And when you do, you also die for a lack of it. Surround yourself with leaders who are living at a higher level. Before you know it, you will be living at a higher level.
As your influence increases so must your maturity! That's why you have to act like you have been here! No matter where your here is act like you have been there before! Stand confident in who you are. Walk in your calling, gifts, and talents. If you are in the room, God put you there! That means you belong in the same room as those you want to be more like.
Let me just say this: Be confident, never cocky. Don't let the opportunities in front of you raise your pride level. Stay humble as your leadership gets unleashed. I know this, if you stop acting like you have been here, you probably won't be there much longer. Other leaders will see right through the facade of false humility. So, just be confident, never cocky.
God is about to unleash your leadership! Act like you have been here!