Dealing with Resistance

Anytime we do important work, we WILL face Resistance

It is pretty much a guarantee. 

People won’t like what we’re doing. They may even let us know (to our face). They’ll cheapen our hard efforts and make us feel bad. And a common tendency would be to compromise — to give in and give up. Some of us may even take those comments personally.

Sometimes Resistance is loud. People will tell us they don’t like what we’re doing and ask a million questions about our motives. They may hold some kind of campaign and protest. Or they’ll suggest that what we’re doing isn’t important. 

Other times (maybe more often?), Resistance is quiet and passive. Nothing specific is said, but there’s a lack of involvement or excitement that shows us they don’t like what we’re doing. Resistance can even take place in our own mind.

SO... what do we do about it?

Before I offer a powerful tool to keep us on track, here are 4 steps for dealing with Resistance:

1. Recognize Resistance is inevitable. It will show up. It’s not going to go away. Ever. That means what we are doing is starting to work and it’s being noticed. 

2. Embrace your team and community. You have a group of people right here in this thread who wants to help you succeed. If you’re taking something personally, LET US KNOW. You are not alone! We are here for you! If you face resistance, we can be praying for you, and help you lead.

3. Greet Resistance when it shows up. The worst thing we can do is ignore the Resistance. Begin by saying “hello Resistance!” when it shows up in whatever form it takes. And in your head, just whisper to yourself “I think I’m facing Resistance right now.” This simple phrase activates the part of your brain that is more deliberate and thoughtful rather than fast and thoughtless. 

4. Stay focused on our end game. Specifically on Sunday morning’s our end game is that people would think “I’m coming back next week.” We must stay focused on this and remind ourselves and our team members that every Sunday is someone’s first Sunday and we want to eventually bring them into a growing relationship with Christ. 

A powerful tool for staying on track... 

Clarify the win. 

Another way to deal with Resistance is to clarify the win. Everyone wants to win. When we are clear on what it looks like to win, people can better evaluate what we’re doing. Most people are already evaluating what we are doing based on their own inner-defined win. Sometimes this is what there’s Resistance — what we’re doing doesn’t match THEIR win.

Your role: Restate the win frequently. It may feel like we are a broken record at times, but this just means what we are saying is starting to spread. We must remind people why we are so fanatic about making the Sunday experience “irresistible” so we can let God do the work only he can do. 

QUESTION: Have you experience Resistance in your role as a leader? 

QUESTION: Are you prepared to greet Resistance this week and next? (And the week after that?) 

QUESTION: How do you deal with Resistance when it shows up?

(Inspired by Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art and Andy Stanley’s 7 Practices)

A cog in the system

Nobody wants to be a meaningless cog in the system.

It is reliable. It gets the job done. It’s strong and doesn’t let its personality get in the way. It doesn’t complain. It supports the system and the bigger machine to produce a manufactured end result. And it works — over and over again.

In leadership, we DO have a lot of “systems” — each of our teams have unique complexities and things to — but we do not want to treat or think of our team members as cogs in the system. 

Your role as a leader is to remind people that we’re not just doing a bunch of “things” but we’re a part of something much bigger than our selves. Love them when they don’t get the job done. Help them when they’re weak and their personality is spewing everywhere. 

Don’t get me wrong: tasks need to get done and there must be a standard of excellence.

Question to ponder: How can you remind people that they’re not a cog and show them that they matter?

What are ways we can love and lead people?

Who are you learning from?

Here’s a question for you to consider: Who are you learning from?

For our roles in our lives, each of us should be able to point to a person or group we are learning from. It is exciting and humbling to think that we are probably not the first people to encounter the issues we are facing—so why not see how others have dealt with the same stuff?

We live in an incredible time where there are more free articles (if you like reading), podcasts (if you like listening), and videos (if you like watching) to help us grow. Sometimes, you have to take what you learn with a grain of salt, but if it helps you think, then it may be worth it. 

  • Are you seeking out new ways how to do stuff? 
  • Are you seeing what current trends are working for other leaders?
  • Do you have a desire to want to learn new stuff?

The power of checklists

This may sound obvious, but it turns out that checklists are a super powerful tool for getting things right. I heard a great interview about the power of checklists in hospitals on NPR — if you’re interested check it out here:

For each of our areas, I want us to think about creating some great checklists that allow us to create “I’m coming back” experiences for every guest, each week, regardless of volunteers. 

Atul Gawande explains in his book The Checklist Manifesto that there are two kinds of checklists: (1) DO-CONFIRM (2) READ-DO

DO-CONFIRM
A person or team performs the work, then review the checklist to confirm all of the steps were executed. If not, the pause the checklist provides is a chance to get right what wasn’t.

READ-DO
These checklists are more like recipes. They are slower to execute but you go down each item line by line and DO the item before moving on. 

GENERAL TIPS FOR CHECKLISTS

  • Usually no longer than 9 items (in line with how much the human brain can remember)
  • Leave out things that are implied 
  • Wording should be simple and exact
  • Use familiar language of the area
  • It should fit on one page
  • Free of clutter and unnecessary color
  • Uses upper and lowercase type for readability 
  • Tweak and perfect the checklist as issues arise

THE POWER OF CHECKLISTS... 
Checklists allow us to not rely on one person or even our own brain. Put simply, checklists become our external brain that we can rely and trust to remember what needs to happen.

Checklists allow us to grow our teams and train new members how to do a role. 

Checklists allow us to be able to take a day off and not worry about what needs to happen!

Checklists allow us to make great first impressions.

Checklists pave the way for consistency. 

I am going to work on some starting point checklists for each of us to consider for our areas — but I’d also encourage you to be thinking about what needs to happen each week and putting that into a simple, concise checklist for your area. Looking forward to seeing you all soon! I’d love to schedule a leaders-only meeting and check in with everyone to see how you’re doing and areas where you might need help.

Communicate early and often

I’ve experienced it and I’m sure you have too. You’re getting close to a deadline for a project and you’re waiting on 12 essential details to complete everything. 

You’re so close to the deadline that having any conversations or communication will KEEP you from completing the project

So what do you do? 

You skip them... and get to work. 

Seriously though... who has time to communicate early and often when you have a deadline to meet? 

It’s easier to go silent and communicate less when there’s a big event or deadline right around the corner. However, one of the strategic behaviors I want all of us to consider as leaders is this:

We communicate EARLY and OFTEN.

Part 1: Communicating EARLY

This means we talk about stuff while we can still make plenty of adjustments. When you communicate late, there’s often no time left to make changes. On Nov 13, I wrote about how we plan in advance so that ‘lack of time’ is never an issue. Around CFC, we don’t want to fall into the “I didn’t have enough time” trap. That’s not a good excuse! By communicating early, we can keep each other in the loop before it is too late.

When you communicate early... you can let your team know about stuff while there’s still time to figure out key details and other solutions. 

When you communicate early... you allow time for proper planning. See my post from Nov 13 for more planning tips and tricks: https://public.3.basecamp.com/p/HonuXbbxWwdGMvnDsXg1nJXG

Part 2: Communicating OFTEN

This just means we’re in the pattern of a consistent conversation — not a irregular monologue

So far my personal attempts to achieve this have been:

  • Monthly volunteer training meetings (Saturdays) 
  • Weekly(ish) posts here in Basecamp (like this one)

But I’m sure there’s more I could do and that we could all do... 

Next steps...

  • What, if anything, do you have to communicate that would be better for your team to know SOONER than later?
  • How often have you communicated? 
  • What can we do better to make sure communication is happening EARLY and OFTEN?

Who is your replacement

You may be just walking into your role as a leader or maybe you’ve been at this for a while. The best leaders are always thinking forward to how they can make themselves replaceable.

If you know you your replacement might be...

  • What responsibilities or projects could you delegate to them sometime soon? 
  • How might you intentionally bring them into your world and how you think through things?
  • Is there a way for you to take them out for coffee or lunch... have them over your house?

If you don’t know who your replacement is... 

  • Just keep this idea in mind over the coming weeks... “who is my replacement?”
  • Who might you recruit that might be a leader for the team one day?
  • Ask some people on your team if they’d ever consider being a leader...