Title: Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences
Author: Carey Nieuwhof
Copyright Date: 2019
Early in the pages of his every-leader-must-read book, pastor, podcaster, and thought leader Carey Nieuwhof in Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences, writes these sobering words: But a few years into my adult life, I began to notice highly competent people who became disqualified from leadership. These were smart, skilled people with great educations, incredible minds, and finely tuned skill sets who were at the top of their fields. One after another, they resigned or were forced out. From there, Nieuwhof unpacks seven realities of leadership that every leader needs to place on high-alert status: cynicism, compromise, disconnectedness, irrelevance, pride, burnout, and emptiness. For each challenge, he provides insightful and field-tested counsel on how to steer clear of these potholes and how to navigate back to wholeness.
This book needs to find itself on to every leader’s REQUIRED READING list. Here are a set of Book Notes that will more than whet your appetite for the benefits that await.
Founding Pastor of one of North America’s most influential churches, Carey Nieuwhof wants to help you avoid and overcome life’s seven hardest and most crippling challenges: cynicism, compromise, disconnectedness, irrelevance, pride, burnout, and emptiness. These are challenges that few of us expect but that we all experience at some point. If you have yet to confront these obstacles, Carey provides clear tools and guidelines for anticipation and avoidance. On the other hand, if you already feel stuck in a painful experience or are wrestling with one of these challenges, he provides the steps you need to find a way out and a way forward into a more powerful and vibrant future.
The way most people get into these unintended places is simple: They miss the warning signs. They don’t see it coming. The good news is that you can see it coming. This book is for people who want to see the signs that there’s a major life challenge ahead before it’s too late. LOCATION: 192
These warning signs, if recognized and heeded, are gifts from God to spare us from the self-inflicted sadness and heartbreak that mark too many lives these days. LOCATION: 199
Cynicism, compromise, disconnection, irrelevance, pride, burnout, emptiness—none of these need to be your final story. You can see them coming. You can identify them when they arrive. And when you name them, when you see them, they lose some of their allure as well as their power. LOCATION: 237
Cynicism isn’t just something other people experience; it’s something you sense growing within you. LOCATION: 284
Cynicism begins not because you don’t care but because you do care. LOCATION: 348
Most cynics are former optimists. You’d never know it now, but there was a time when they were hopeful, enthusiastic, and even cheerful. There’s something inside the human spirit that wants to hope, wants to think things will get better. Nearly everyone starts life with a positive outlook. LOCATION: 353
At least three things happen to the human heart as it grows cynical.
What I needed to understand is what you need to understand: cynicism is actually a choice. Cynics aren’t born; they’re made. Life doesn’t make you a cynic; you make you a cynic. LOCATION: 441
Cynicism is so cruel. When I was at my most cynical, the thing that died within me was hope—hope that the future would be better than the past, hope that the next time could be different, hope that my heart would feel again. LOCATION: 463
Cynics find hope hard because hope is one of cynicism’s first casualties. LOCATION: 466
The remarkable part of Christianity is not that we have a Savior who came to deliver us but that we have a Savior who sees us for who we really are and loves us anyway. Jesus stared hate in the face and met it with love. He confronted despair and made it abundantly clear it wouldn’t win. LOCATION: 485
How do you battle cynicism on the days when discouragement and despair are once again knocking at your door? That brings me to the little hack I’ve picked up to help me in the times I struggle to battle my creeping cynicism. An incredibly effective antidote to cynicism is curiosity. Yes, simple curiosity. LOCATION: 502
One thing I’ve noticed again and again is this reality: curious people are never cynical, and cynical people are never curious. LOCATION: 504
Here are five keys I’ve discovered to help anyone become more curious and stay curious throughout life.
But a few years into my adult life, I began to notice highly competent people who became disqualified from leadership. These were smart, skilled people with great educations, incredible minds, and finely tuned skill sets who were at the top of their fields. One after another, they resigned or were forced out…These people usually left their esteemed positions because of an addiction, an affair, abuse, embezzlement, greed, internal fighting, ego, or sometimes just being a jerk. Athletes, politicians, business leaders, actors, industry moguls, and pastors alike fall to issues like these month after month, year after year, decade after decade. And those are only the ones we hear about. Start looking for the stories that never make the news, and the onslaught seems endless. LOCATION: 652
So if competency doesn’t determine capacity, what does? Character does. All the competency in the world can’t compensate for a lack of character. Ultimately, your character is your lid. Even in a workplace that wouldn’t espouse any religious affiliation at all, character is the great leveler. You may be smart, but if people don’t like you, they won’t want to work with you. You may be the best software developer in your field, but if you lie, people won’t trust you. You may be able to bring reams of cash into the company, but if you mistreat the people who work with you, they’ll leave or they’ll make sure you do. LOCATION: 659
Lack of character kills careers, shatters families, ruins friendships, and destroys influence. And even if you never get fired or divorced over the compromises you make, your lack of character will limit the intimacy, joy, and depth you experience with God and with people. Like it or not, character, not competency, determines capacity. LOCATION: 663
Character determines so much more than you think. Ultimately, it not only dictates your capacity in work and in life but also becomes your legacy. Your competency leaves the first impression, but your character leaves the lasting one. The crowd is intrigued by your competency, but your family and close friends are influenced by your character. LOCATION: 669
When you’re no longer breathing, the legacy you’ll leave will center on your character. People will remember if you loved well, if you forgave easily, if you cared enough to be there for them. They’ll remember if you served or preferred to be served. They’ll know whether you thought life revolved around you or whether you really tried to honor God and others. They’ll remember whether you were generous or miserly, arrogant or humble, compassionate or indifferent. They’ll remember your temper or whether you learned the rhythms of grace. LOCATION: 682
Developing your character is never easy, which is why so many people abandon the pursuit. But it’s so worth it. Character matters more than anything because you bring who you are into everything you do. Your character determines the kind of spouse, parent, friend, employee, and leader you are. No matter how hard you try, you can’t escape you. LOCATION: 708
So what are some telltale signs you’re drifting, that you’re not becoming who you intend to be? Here are five.
When you keep compromising, eventually you craft a life that is almost entirely self-centered. And that’s the opposite of who you know you should be. LOCATION: 777
And let’s be honest: character development is far more painful than skill development. Working on your character forces you to go into the crags and crevices of your heart. It encourages you to look at your past to forge a better future. It makes you look in the mirror. LOCATION: 796
The antidote to compromise is simply this: work twice as hard on your character as you do on your competency. It could be that you need to work five times harder. Or ten times harder. I don’t know. Twice as hard feels doable, and it’s a reminder that I’m likely going to resist it, so I’d better pay attention. According to Jesus, very few people ever manage to do it. LOCATION: 827
If you do go through the deep journey Jesus invites you to take, you’ll stop compromising. Your outside will begin to look like your inside. You won’t need to hide because there will be nothing left to hide. You’ll be so consistent that there will be no distinction between who you are publicly and who you are privately. Keeping your word will be easy because your yes will mean yes and your no will mean no. LOCATION: 863
The process of changing your character from the inside out could fill this entire book, but here are three ways to get started.
Competency gets you in the room. Character keeps you in the room. For all of us, it’s our character that determines how we’ll be remembered. More important, it’s our character that God is most interested in. Reverse the compromise that’s happening in your life, and you will finally close the gap between who you are and who you want to be. Your interior life will finally begin to sync with your exterior life. Not only will you experience a newfound peace and even deepened humility and self-respect, but you will change your legacy. The people closest to you will become the people most grateful for you. LOCATION: 977
As a culture, the more connected we’ve become, the more isolated we’ve grown. This is our strange twenty-first-century paradox: we’re connected to more people than ever before and we’ve never felt more alone. LOCATION: 1017
Technology does a good job of revealing what’s already inside you. If you’re narcissistic by nature, social media gives you a new platform to express your self-centeredness. If you lean toward workaholism, you’ll always have access to your office as you carry your devices with you everywhere. LOCATION: 1034
In essence, technology is like money: it makes a terrible master but a wonderful servant. Technology can be used for tremendous good, and it can bring out the worst inclinations in us all. LOCATION: 1042
In my lifetime, I’ve noticed the decline—perhaps the near death—of two vital things I see sliding further into the abyss with each passing year. Their demise may be part of the reason people feel so distant from others.
Confession is the part of prayer and life where we come before God and one another to admit all that we aren’t: our shortcomings, our intentional sins, and myriad unintentional sins. When we confess our brokenness, we admit that we are not all we pretend to be, hope to be, or could be. We own up to the fact that we are a mess. LOCATION: 1144
Here’s what I’ve realized in my life: confession and progress are inexorably linked. You won’t address what you don’t confess. If you think about this more deeply, it’s the things that you refuse to confess that grate on the relationships that matter to you. LOCATION: 1161
When you stop using your past as a justification, you’ll also begin to realize that maybe, just maybe, you have problems for which you are responsible. LOCATION: 1204
When you take an interest in others more than in yourself, it’s a very small form of dying to yourself, something very close to the heart of Christ. When you give your life away, something greater rises. LOCATION: 1225
We hear a lot about our accelerated pace of life and for good reason. The speed at which we travel is exciting but also problematic. I have discovered that a hurried life leads to an unexamined and disconnected life. Hurry kills intimacy with God, with family, and with friends. LOCATION: 1272
Love has a speed. And it’s slower than I am. There’s a good chance it’s slower than you are. Love pauses. Love lingers. Love offers full focus and gives far more than it takes. When I run too fast, I outrun love, and the people I love pay a price. LOCATION: 1277
Irrelevance can be cruel as it silently squanders your influence. Most of us spend considerable energy and effort in our younger years trying to influence the people we care about and advance the causes that matter to us. Irrelevance sabotages that influence. Without ever telling you why, people quietly dismiss you as someone who doesn’t quite get it. They write you off as quaint, outdated, and even insignificant. LOCATION: 1338
Rick Warren said it well: “When the speed of change around an organization is faster than the speed of change inside the organization, the organization becomes irrelevant.” That’s also true for people. The gap between how quickly you change and how quickly things change is called irrelevance. The bigger the gap, the more irrelevant you become. LOCATION: 1344
The goal is not to chase culture, morphing into a different person every season. No, the goal is to understand the culture well enough that you are able to speak into it. And that, of course, requires change and adaptation. LOCATION: 1350
You’re ready to change because the pain associated with the status quo just became greater than the pain associated with change. That’s the moment most of us change. LOCATION: 1451
The brain has a bias toward what it already knows. LOCATION: 1511
Surprisingly, success makes you conservative. The more successful you are, the less likely you are to change. LOCATION: 1516
In addition to being aware of why you’re biased against change (which we’ve just seen), here are four insights and strategies to make sure you stay current.
The best years for leaders who are able to communicate with the culture often seem to happen somewhere between age forty-five and seventy-five. If you don’t navigate these years well, these are also the years where irrelevance accelerates. But if you pay attention to the things we’ve discussed, these can be not only your peak earning years but also your peak contributing years. LOCATION: 1588
The difference between change and transformation is powerful. On the outside, they look similar. Looking at a person who’s changed versus one who’s been transformed, you won’t see a big external difference. But inside, the transformed person is significantly different. What’s happened? The transformed person no longer wants to go back to the way things were. Unlike the story of Moses and the Israelites, the slaves no longer want to go back to Egypt. When true transformation occurs, the person embraces the future more than the past. LOCATION: 1608
Change is hard, but the right kind ushers in so much good. You may prefer to do things your way and keep everything the same. But for the sake of the next generation, for the sake of contributing meaningfully throughout your entire life, don’t just intend to change. Actually do it. Because unimplemented change will become regret. LOCATION: 1622
The most obvious form of pride is narcissism, which is an issue for some people but not most. How do you know if you’re in that category? Narcissists really do think they’re God’s gift to humanity. They demand to be the center of attention; they dominate conversations, interrupt people, think they’re better, have to stay on top at all costs, can’t celebrate the success of others, and always have an excuse if they’re not first. They’re obsessed with themselves because they think they’re oh so awesome. LOCATION: 1681
Pride at its heart is an obsession with self. It generates the desire you feel to protect, project, manipulate, jockey, advance, pretend, inflate, and brag. LOCATION: 1689
Pride will snuff out your empathy, stifle your compassion, create division, suffocate love, foster jealousy, deaden your soul, and make you think all this is normal. LOCATION: 1699
Pride will lead to cynicism and accelerate burnout. It will leave you feeling disconnected and can cause you to become irrelevant. And by the time it has run its course, pride will leave you feeling empty, despite everything you’ve accomplished. Pride will cost you friendships, intimacy, respect, lost opportunities, rest, peace of mind, wisdom, and even money. It’s hard to imagine the stakes being much higher. LOCATION: 1703
Pride sneaks in even among the insecure and drives a wedge between who we think we are and who God thinks we are. LOCATION: 1721
One sure sign of insecurity is that your opinion of yourself rises and falls with how you perform or what others say about you. Your identity should be more secure than your latest results, but for many of us, it’s not. LOCATION: 1742
Proud people end up being controlling people. If insecurity drives you, you’ll always want to add your little bit of knowledge, insight, or even an anecdote to everyone else’s story. It won’t feel complete if the other person gets the spotlight and you get overlooked. LOCATION: 1768
Let pride run its course, and it will deaden your heart. Pride inoculates you from the counsel of others and the stirrings of your conscience. It makes you think that the rules don’t apply to you or that you can violate them without repercussion. LOCATION: 1784
Which begs the question, What exactly does a hard heart look like? Glad you asked. There are at least four characteristics to watch for.
The problem with success (even a small bit of it) is that you get addicted to all the trappings. And pride will convince you that you are entitled to it all. LOCATION: 1889
How do you tame the raging beast of pride in all its forms? Through humility. Nothing kills pride like humility does. Only humility can get you out of what pride got you into. LOCATION: 1890
The more you have, the easier it is to lose your gratitude. Scarcity creates gratitude, and most of us live in relative abundance, globally speaking. LOCATION: 1929
Gratitude fosters humility because it moves you out of the role of the star in your story. LOCATION: 1945
Helping others succeed and sharing the stage with them doesn’t make you less valuable; it makes you more valuable. When you’re humble, you realize the overall mission is more important than you are. LOCATION: 1990
Just know this: Of all the lies we tell, the ones we tell ourselves are the deadliest. Unconfessed and unaddressed, they will continue to damage the people around us (and us) indefinitely. Level with yourself and with God. Everyone else knows your weakness. So does God. Why not admit it? LOCATION: 2025
I’ll describe eleven signs and symptoms I personally experienced as I burned out. If you recognize one or two of them, you’re likely not burned out. Consider them warning signs. If you show six to eight, you may be in low-grade burnout or heading for the cliff. If you resonate with most or all of them, you’re likely in full-fledged burnout. I hope these signs can help you see the edge before you careen past it.
The truth is that we all struggle with unresolved problems. And the sooner you deal with them, the better off you and everyone around you will be. Your unresolved past will sink your future unless you deal with it. LOCATION: 2219
So how do you recover from burnout?
Pride and fear are villains in the burnout story. They keep you first from admitting and then from telling. Both will tell you there’s still too much of a stigma attached to burnout, anxiety, and even depression for many people to feel comfortable talking about them. LOCATION: 2375
Workaholism is the most rewarded addiction in America today. You may get fired for drinking too much, but working too much usually gets you promoted. LOCATION: 2612
Overeating is another crippling form of self-medication our culture has embraced wholeheartedly. And when I use the word crippling, it’s not in the metaphorical sense. Globally, obesity now kills three times more people than malnutrition does. And even if it doesn’t kill you, it can significantly affect the quality of your life. LOCATION: 2624
Ready? If you want to beat emptiness, find a mission that’s bigger than you. As long as you keep making your life all about you, you’ll experience one round of emptiness after another. LOCATION: 2696
One of the reasons 70 percent of employees are disengaged at work is because people don’t understand the greater purpose or mission behind what they do, and most managers and leaders never try to move people toward something greater. LOCATION: 2708
Selfishness looks good only to the selfish in the same way that pride is attractive only to the proud. Humility will win you what pride never will: the affection of others. And that’s exactly what selflessness will do. Other people naturally gravitate toward people who live for a cause beyond themselves. LOCATION: 2760
Self-aware people have a conscious knowledge of their motives, desires, feelings, and character. They are also in tune with how their actions affect others. The more self-aware you are, the more likely you are to see it coming. LOCATION: 2808
One way to test your level of self-awareness is to figure out what self-aware people know that others don’t. In my experience, there are four things.
And so it comes full circle. Without knowledge of self, there’s no knowledge of God. And without knowledge of God, there’s no knowledge of self. LOCATION: 2875
Chuck OlsonAs founder and president of Lead With Your Life, Dr. Chuck Olson is passionate about inspiring, resourcing and equipping Kingdom leaders to lead from the inside out. To lead, not with the external shell of positions, achievements or titles, but from an internal commitment to a deep, abiding and transparent relationship with Jesus. Serving as a pastor and leadership coach for over forty years, Chuck has a track record of building these truths deep into the lives of both ministry and marketplace leaders.
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Compiled by Chuck Olson
Compiled by Chuck Olson
Compiled by Chuck Olson
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