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| Bob Bumgarner |

Behind the Curtain: Balancing the Inner and Outer Worlds of Leadership

As leaders we all have a front-stage life and a back-stage life. Our front-stage is the public world of our leadership. It is what people see us doing and hear us saying. Our back-stage is our private world. It is where our soul exists. It is the invisible and eternal part of us. It is more about who we really are than what we do. It is primarily about being. 

Our front-stage life and back-stage life cannot be separated for long. Mother Teresa described their relationship like this, “To keep a lamp burning, we have to put oil in it.” If we neglect our back-stage preparation eventually our front-stage performance will falter. The truth is what happens back-stage facilitates what happens front-stage. 

The common challenge is we all have back-stage clutter. As leaders we must decide what we will do with our unique back-stage clutter. Some of our toxic clutter comes from outside sources. The expectations of others, the success messages of our culture, destructive criticism and dysfunctional leadership cultures attempt to derail us from the outside in.

Internal clutter is even more dangerous because it is less obvious. We actually bring it to the party. Personal insecurity, unhealthy ambition, people pleasing, excessive busyness, fear of failure and relational isolation are all forms of internal clutter. If they are allowed to stay they will poison us from the inside out.

So, how are things back-stage? If you allow your back-stage to stay in the same condition it is in now, where will you be ten years from now? If you don’t like the possibilities try this three step strategy. 

Take An Unedited Leadership Selfie: Take the time to reflect honestly about the clutter that is a threat to your soul. Don’t make excuses, it is what it is! Remember the truth only hurts once. Self-deception hurts everyday. Create a list of the things that need your attention.

Take Small Steps That Make A Big Difference: Once you have created the list  of threatening clutter, prayerfully prioritize it.  Put your list in rank order based on the clutter that most negatively impacts your desire to hear and respond to God. Don’t address more than the top two for the first thirty days. 

Tell Someone About Your Journey: De-cluttering the back-stage is a journey of life change. If you are serious about change tell someone what you are trying to do. Tell them how it is going and why it is important to succeed. Ask them to pray for you and what they have done to de-clutter their own back-stage. Maybe you can learn from them.

If we allow ourselves to have a cluttered back-stage that causes an unhealthy soul we are not living well. And if we aren’t living well the odds are we are not leading well either.

Lead Missional Strategist

Bob Bumgarner