A new story from Leading Saints Podcast
And then is there a story behind you being called as a stake president? Yeah. And probably it's long enough to merit its own podcast. Yeah. So I'll give you the clip notes version. Suffice to say, I thought I was kind of in the clear when it's time for a state reorganization came up back in July or June, beginning of June, I look, I'd only been in the mission presidency two years. It's a three-year call. You serve the length of the time with the mission president. And I had some really great men that I recommended that could be really good for that, who are now my counselors in the stake presidency. And it just kind of, boy, every other calling, Kurt, I've kind of had a feeling or a sense that some change was coming. I just didn't know what it was. This one blindsided me and caught me off guard. So it took me the first month just to kind of settle into some imposter syndrome and figure out what I'm doing here. But anyway, it's been a fun ride for four months. I've loved it so far. That's cool. Anything worth noting as far as just like walking into that calling, like any surprises or you're just like calibrating yourself and your effort to that role? Yeah. A couple of surprises. One, I'd been a counselor before in a stake presidency, I've been a counselor then in a mission presidency. I learned that I'm a really good wingman. Like I'm super good at being a counselor. Give me a leader with a vision and I'll go make that thing happen. I'll be the best support in the world. But to actually be the guy with the keys that has to kind of make some decisions and I just thought, wow, I'm going to have to really tune in. Like I'm going to have to just up the ante on revelation and just be really in tune and be open to what God wants me to do because I've got to make some really kind of difficult, challenging calls. I also realized I didn't know what a stake president did, despite the fact that I was a counselor to one for five years, I never really understood. And now that I, when I got the download from the former stake president of all the things he was working on that weren't part of working with organizations, I thought, wow, that's a huge ministry. It's a lot of ministering. So it's all about the one. Love it. And then in your day job, you continued to coach or, I mean, how do you, how do you describe your job? Yeah, it's funny you asked that. So I launched my business eight years ago, we've scaled up and hired some full-time executive coaches who do leadership training and coaching, and it's freed me up to have a lot of flexibility in my schedule to the point that I didn't really make a dollar for about the first six weeks of being a stake president. I was working like 30 hour weeks as a stake president, just pouring myself into it, trying to kind of learn. And one day I woke up and I had this really clear prompting of Dustin, you still gotta make money. Like there's gotta be balance in all things. It's not good to be all in on stake president. And so I told my wife, I think it's time for me to go make a dollar again. And she's like, yeah, you need to make some money. So yeah, I'm spending time coaching and training still and doing workshops and then balancing that of course, with family time and with, with stake president calls. So, so far so good. We've been able to kind of strike that balance. Well, you're definitely one of those names and figures I want to have a sort of cycling through here every, every so often. So hopefully isn't our last time we talk on this platform and cause you always have just a perspective both from your, your day job, but also from your Sunday job, your Sunday callings or whatnot that really, and you do a great job sort of mending those two things together in a helpful way. So maybe just introduce your, the topic that we hope to explore today. Yeah, we, and I kind of thought of a couple of things that have been helpful to me since I became a stake president that are leadership principles. And one really rose to the surface because it's really made a lot of sense lately. The concept is called the law of the lid, the law of the lid. And I'll tell you kind of how I discovered it. You know, a big gap in most organizations that we serve is that their senior leaders come in and they hire an organization like ours and they say, Hey, we need you to train our mid-level leaders. If our managers could figure this out, we'd be more effective. So we swoop in and we train all the mid-level leaders when in reality it's the senior leaders that need the training, right? And so we create this training gap where the mid-level managers all have their own language, they're highly trained and the senior leaders continue to kind of struggle along. They don't speak the same language now, they don't have the same level of training. And so a guy named John Maxwell coined a phrase or a maxim for this called the law of the lid. And the law of the lid essentially says that an organization will rise no higher than the effectiveness of its leadership. In other words, leaders are the cap or the lid on an organization's effectiveness. So if you're hiring trainers to come in and train your mid-level, but you're not getting any training yourself, you're going to become the lid on that organization's growth. And so this is kind of, I discovered this a number of years ago and we've applied it continuously in our business practices, but I started to see some application in the church as well. And I thought, wow, you had a lot of literally plays out. One obvious connection that I saw is back when I was in the stake presidency about a decade ago, we started to teach this to our bishops because we noticed that bishops would really want their members to be praying more, studying their scriptures more, fasting more fervently or with more intention, going to the temple, serving their callings. And yet we found that sometimes bishops or bishoprics wouldn't be doing those things themselves, right? They're too busy, Dustin. They're too busy to do it. We just don't have the members. And so we started to teach this and we said, hey, this is called the law of the lid. You can't ask people to do something you won't do. The ward or the stake or the relief society will rise no higher than the effectiveness of its leadership. And so that's kind of really where this came to be. And you know, this, I just was at lunch with a guy talking about, you know, church leadership and whatnot. And I truly believe this, but I also recognize my bias as the, you know, quote unquote leadership guy as you know, in the church and I'm the host of the podcast, right? But really there's only one problem. This comes from Sterling W. Seal that he always said, there's only one problem in the world and it's leadership. Like if we can get the leadership right. Like it's amazing what problems just magically seem to fix themselves, right? And so it's so easy to look externally as the leader and being like, well, I can give you a list of problems, but it's hard to look internally at times realizing that we're sometimes stimulating those problems to exist. Yeah, I love a quote. I think Warren Bennis said it, but I might be wrong on that, but the statement is the hardest person you'll ever have to lead is yourself. And when I get in a coaching session, you know, oftentimes people say, well, if this person would do this or if this person would do that, and this happens in the church, right? If this leader would do this or if this person would pay more attention or if this person was more organized and yet the hardest person you'll ever have to lead is you. If you just would focus on yourself, I oftentimes tell clients I can only coach the person in the room. The other people aren't here, it's just you. And so how can you become more effective? How can you increase your personal effectiveness? And if we can just solve, like you said, that leadership dilemma, a lot of things clear up. Another sort of dynamic that comes to mind, and maybe you can bring some more context to this, or that it's so easy for members who aren't in the leadership positions to hear the law of the lid and be like, oh, Dustin, absolutely. I mean, I see how inept my bishop is. And you're right, we can't succeed in organization because he just doesn't get it, right? And so then we use that as an excuse of us not leading ourselves, right? As if we're the victim to the law of the lid, when in reality, I truly believe that there's no adjustment of the handbook needed, no policy, no program needed for us to flourish as the kingdom of God, as the restored church. Even the members have a law of the lid that we don't have to sit around and wait for our local leaders to discover the law of the lid to find success and see change and transformation happen in our own community. Yeah, the law of the lid trickles down. And it trickles down to every individual. You could say that a family will rise no higher than the effectiveness of the parents. You could say that an individual will rise no higher than their own personal effectiveness. In other words, if we're not improving, we're flatlining or declining. And so that's what the law of the lid is really all about. How do you keep improving? You don't wait for somebody to listen to podcasts and start to improve. You start the improvement with yourself in your own sphere. And that can be just you. It could be your family. It could be the organization you lead. It could be just simply in your calling. But the law of the lid has some serious power. Yeah. So where do we start? Or what's the next step as far as unpacking this and applying this in our own life? Yeah. So an interesting thing happened. So I'm released from the stake presidency. I go to become a branch president of a Spanish unit and I'm thinking about this law of the lid. And so we're all in on scripture study and prayer and fasting and tithing and all these things. And an interesting thing occurred. I had a really hard first year as a branch president. It kicked my butt. I mean, that was probably the hardest calling we ever served in. And the reason why it was so challenging is because I was sitting with individuals and families who had really complex issues, really difficult things. They would come in to me for counseling and to work with them. And I just would feel so like empty. Like, how do I help these people? Like, how do I even begin to solve somebody whose marriage is falling apart or they can't war on me? It really taxed me. And I thought I started to feel like, wow, I'm ineffective. And these people are on the log jam to their effectiveness. Right. So about a year goes by of struggling through this. And I'm talking with our stake president one day and he says, Dustin, you seem really like weighed down. You seem really kind of, I don't know, tired. You've only been doing this a year. Buckle up. You got a few more years. Don't give up on me yet. And I said, man, this has been really tough, president. Like, I just I'm really struggling. He said, tell me about that. I said, you know, people are coming in with these really big problems and I just don't know how to help them solve those problems. I'm trying this and I'm trying that. And he listened patiently and then he said, Dustin, I'll tell you what's going on. The problem is that you're trying to solve their problems. I said, what do you mean? He said, they're not your problems to solve. You are becoming the lid because you don't have the ability to solve their problems. They're not yours to solve. I said, oh, yeah. Say more about that. Whose are they? He said, it's not yours to solve. It's the saviors. Only Christ can help them solve their problem. And I thought about that and I thought, yeah, that feels good. How do I do that? And he said, you've got to point them to the savior. Like, yeah, what does that mean? He said, you literally point them to the savior. You listen to them. You listen to their thoughts. You ask them questions and then you point them to the savior. You point them to prayer. You point them to the scriptures for answers. You point them to fasting. You point them to temple. You point them to places where the savior is and you let him solve their problem. You let him work through their problem with them. And you're the guide. You stand alongside them. You don't leave them. But it's not your problem to solve. The reason why that was powerful to me, Kurt, is because I realized as long as leaders believe that it's up to them to solve the problems, you are always going to be the lid. In fact, it's a little bit of a scary concept to think that the bishop or the Relief Society president is the lid on their organization. That means that your group will be no more effective than you. That's heavy. Yeah. But what if we look to the one person who doesn't have a lid? What if we say, wow, Jesus Christ never had a lid. He has no lid. And if we point people to him, the people we have stewardship over will become way better than us. They will progress way faster. They will rise above us even as leaders because they're following the true leader, the savior who doesn't have a lid. Yeah, that's so powerful. And, you know, this is the this is really where like the rubber hits the road with what we believe in our testimony, like it's easy to sort of be the leader that stands up and testifies of Christ or makes it, you know, even or any member of the church making a comment in Sunday school that, you know, Christ is the great healer and whatnot. But so often in application, we'll remove him from the equation with the best intentions. Right. It's like, OK, you know, I've seen the bishop and the bishop's thinking, well, you know, let's get you some good therapy and here's, you know, this book and that book. And why don't we meet together? Have you prayed? Maybe try praying three times a day or, you know, we sort of get trapped in these these efforts, these behaviors, these resources. But do we really believe that Jesus is the healer, that he can really do the healing? And of course, you know, this isn't some backwards way of saying that they don't need therapy or that, of course, those resources that are needed. But to really say, like, I'm going to point you to the savior, I don't entirely know what that looks like for you. But let's work together to figure out not necessarily your problem, but how to get you pointed to the savior. Right. Yeah. And as you're as you're sharing that, a thought comes to mind that we oftentimes point to the mechanism or the vehicle as the thing that's going to help them heal. Prayer, scripture study, the temple. I even said this just now, but it's not actually those things that provide the healing. It's like we're leaving out the key words, which is pray to God, study the scriptures to hear his voice, go to the temple to feel his presence. It's him that's going to heal, not the mechanism or the vehicle. And so this became really powerful for me in that presidency. I started to think, OK, the key here is that I've got to help these individuals hear God's voice. And the way to hear his voice is, again, prayer, studying the scriptures to hear his word, attending the temple, going to church, seeking revelation. It's that quote from President Nelson. Right. In the coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directoring, comforting, constant influence of the Holy Ghost. And why is that? Because if we're turning to man, if we're turning to our leaders, if we're turning to our sisters who lead us to solve our problems, they won't get solved. Only Christ can solve them. And that was revelatory for me. It kind of turned everything in that presidency. And I started going into these meetings, I started to share with people and a couple of really powerful things happened. First thing that happened is people hated it.