About fifteen years ago I heard an expert suggest that most people end up being the average of the people they hang out with. Often a random insight works on me for years, and the idea that people are the average of the people they hang out with has been working away on me for some time. I slowly started to assess if the people I hung out with were the kind of people I wanted to affect my level of living.

I started to ask myself if my friends and colleagues were as kind as I would like to be. And if they were as accomplished as I would like to be. Did they love their family as much as I wanted to love mine? Did they have the kind of faith that I wanted to have?

Over time I started building relationships with people who I thought would impact me for good—and I also tried to impact them for good. Around a dozen years ago I reached out to my pastor, who I admired but didn’t know that well, to see if he would be open to having me coach him for free.

I did this because I had come to understand that being the lead pastor of a church is one of the most challenging leadership roles there is. I also did this because I suspected that by serving him in this way, he would also affect my growth in a positive way. This turned out to be very true!

When I think of our alumni, I have similar thoughts. Our team is committed to figuring out how to build a learning community of LEAD 365 alumni so that each of you people worth following will impact each other’s ongoing growth.

We don’t have this challenge figured out yet—but we’re working on it. The following are five areas of focus for our ongoing work toward building our learning community:

  1. Remind each of you of the topics we explored in LEAD 365 so you will continue to be challenged to lead in these ways.
  2. Expose you to new ideas so you will continue to grow in your knowledge of leadership—and we will too.
  3. Create networking opportunities to encourage relationship building where learning can be nurtured and natural accountability will be experienced. I suspect it is this natural nurturing and accountability that raises one’s level to the average of the people in their community.
  4. Provide a simple process for an annual self-assessment of your leadership so you will be aware of where you are doing really well, and also where you might want to target some intentional growth.
  5. Figure out ways to connect you to opportunities where you could make a positive difference in West Michigan—beyond your normal organizational leadership.

Some of the activities we are planning that fit into these five categories are:

  • This weekly blog, which we will do for many years to come.
  • Periodic gatherings with guest speakers who will share interesting leadership topics. We recently did this with “The Power of Story Telling,” and will do it again with Whit Mitchell’s presentation about building great teams on April 10.
  • Teaching some of you how to form and facilitate a small alumni group that is committed to continuing the LEAD 365 journey for another twelve months of review, reflection, and mutual accountability.
  • Making you aware of volunteer opportunities that will affect the well being of West Michigan. We suspect these volunteer opportunities will span from long-term commitments, like non-profit board leadership, all the way down to shorter-term commitments like building a Habitat for Humanity house or building a school playground.
  • Planning some fun actives for those who might be interested in getting to know more alumni. We’re thinking about organizing a ten-mile hike this summer that may require some fitness training in preparation. We suspect this would be fun for some of you, and a great way to get to know more of your fellow alums.

By figuring out how to build this learning community, I am convinced that you, our alumni, will continue to grow in your ability to lead well, and that together we will make West Michigan the most potent area in the country for great leaders!

We hope you find it helpful to learn of the different ways that we are committed to your continued growth. Please let us know if you have any comments or questions.

Lead well this week!

Image by barnimages.com. Used under CC BY 2.0 license.