This is the final installment in John’s series on Self Assessment for leaders . To read from the beginning, click here.
The power of self-assessment as a tool can be lost when one’s insights are not written down. I started journaling consistently just after I got married. Until then the only journaling I had ever done detailed major trips I had taken. Now, however, the first thing that I do five days a week is answer in my journal 3 questions about the previous day. I cannot explain briefly all the changes in my life due to this journal. I vividly remember being insecure and anxious about, even angered by, the most trivial things. Through the discipline of journaling, however, all different types of circumstances have become opportunities to allow God to speak to me. It is my own personal (partial) version of the prayer of Examen. Since making this a regular habit my emotional resources have multiplied beyond what I could previously have imagined.
Leaders face a multitude of problems every day. Each day leaders react and respond to these issues in both good and bad ways. Having a vocabulary to define and describe emotions, time to reflect and allow God to speak into situations (two skills covered in part 1), along with the written record, allows a leader to learn from both successes and failures. Each circumstance faced then become a chance to reflect on feelings which naturally arise. These reflections, once written down, build the leader’s emotional maturity.
Albert Einstein reportedly worked to keep his mind clear of what he deemed to be unnecessary details, thereby leaving it free to focus on physics and formulas. One telling example of this is the fact that he never memorized even his own phone number. In our pride we want the prestige of memorizing many things, but in reality it is not what we remember that builds us up the most. Rather, it is the acts of exposing and processing our thoughts and feelings that will further emotional maturity the most.
Freedom to serve (a side effect)
As I continue to train the leaders of tomorrow, I want to equip them with a vocabulary that will help them develop greater emotional maturity. My goal is to provide them with a healthy way to process their emotions; to realize that “bad” emotions are not necessarily bad for them when they are understood. Leaders with deep emotional security no longer need external sources to provide the emotional energy they need. Using what they have to help others, emotionally mature leaders do not become narcissistic parasites, feeding on their followers. No longer focused on themselves, these leaders are able to better focus on the communities they lead.
TCKs enter college and adulthood with an “ace in the hole.” They have seen more of the world than most, and can usually adapt to most situations with relative ease. Watching students return to their home culture for college has been interesting for me personally. Upon their return, TCKs typically encounter one of two extreme reactions: they thrive, or they shrivel. It is hard to know which students will be the ones to thrive – the mystery of resilience remains.
Despite this mystery, it is clear that teaching TCKs to build greater emotional maturity through regular self-assessment will serve them well. TCKs typically return to their home countries over-prepared in academics, but emotionally struggling and left to learn on their own. Encouraging these youth in the methods and disciplines discussed in this paper will boost their chances to enter adulthood self-aware and ready to handle the difficult transitions ahead.