Bowling Pin Leadership

Leadership lessons from the bowling pin?! 

Bowling pins are the target of constant, repetitive and relentless abuse. Somehow, despite the oppressiveness of their environment, they show themselves to be resilient. They keep showing up seeking to bring out the best in those who stand before them. 

If you’ve ever felt, disrespected, like you’re standing still, anchored into a spot watching the troubles of life being continuously hurled at you, then you know what it’s like to be a bowling pin. If you’ve ever noticed that even if the whirling sphere of life misses you, it may hit someone else and then cause your life to tremble or topple as a consequence, then I think you know what it’s like to be a bowling pin. If you’ve ever thought, I don’t know if I can bounce back up from one more hit, then you know what it’s like to be a bowling pin. If you’ve ever felt like you’ve been positioned in a place, not of your own choosing, then you know what it’s like to be a bowling pin.  If you’ve ever wondered why your heads too small or your hips are too big, then you know what it’s like to be a bowling pin. 

What are you made of?  Leadership is often forged through long difficult seasons; allowing yourself to be pressed and shaped for your over-arching purpose. 

“Pins are made of Hard Rock Maple wood…This is because of the winters, trees that are subjected to winter do not grow as fast as the trees that can grow all year long. The trees that have to shut down in the winter seem to be denser (it also takes twice as long to grow) and this makes the wood harder.”

There are potential leaders that are neglected or give up on themselves because of difficulties, hurdles, obstacles and failings.  They may be hidden on a resume, but they shape who we are and the way we’ll serve in leadership. These hardships should not necessarily be viewed as negatives to leadership growth, rather they can be viewed as  development of leadership potential. 

The virtue of devotion begins with the concept of REST. Unfortunately, for many, the pace at which we run our lives allows little time for rest.  As a result we can begin to view the demands of people to be an inconvenience or distraction to our leadership purposes. 

Not so for the bowling pin.  Most bowling centres will have multiple sets of pins. If they only used one set of pins, then they would need to replace those pins before the end of the season because of wear. However with even one additional set, the operator can rotate out the sets throughout a bowling season and allow one set to rest while using another set. If this is done consistently, the rotation helps the set endure from less than one season to more than three. The life of the pin, the responsiveness of the pin is extended. 

As those who serve in leadership, we must learn to take ourselves out of the rotation at a regular rhythm, in order to develop our “in the moment” effectiveness and long term usefulness.”

This also infers that long term sustainable leadership is done in teams. You won’t find  these leaders alone, they always gather in multiples, in groups. Which is important, for when they get knocked down, they get back up. When they rest, they are preparing for what comes next. Each part of the team helps to extend the leadership capacity of the others.

Over the course of these last twenty years I have found that life is often lived at a hectic pace. Sometimes by my own choosing, some through the circumstances of others. The principle of rest or Sabbath, has become invaluable to my life. Knowing that I can and do communicate with God all through the day, there is something greater, counter-intuitive and absolutely vital for in my life. An hour a day, a day a week, a week a year. A hour a day where it’s just me and Jesus, a day a week where it’s me and Jesus and a week a year that is the same. 

When I fail to do this, I feel myself overwhelmed by the simple things, incapable of decision making. For me, I need the Sabbath principle in my life for it moves me from “rest from” regular activity and further into my relationship with God. 

The virtue of devotion begins with rest and moves to this Divine relationship, through which we learn to see beyond self and toward the needs of those among whom they serve, within and beyond organizational reach. 

In yesterday’s post we observed that rest is important for bowling pins; perhaps then it could be beneficial for our leadership capacity?

What difficulties helped shape your leadership ability? 

How hard is it for you to rest?

What’s your rhythm of rest?