Exhortation is the last of the four F3 Leadership Skills (VAPE). It is encouragement on steroids. Not to say that encouraging is bad, or that Leaders don’t encourage. They do, but that is not what separates a Leader from everyone else. It’s the Exhortation that does that.
Animals That We Are, We Seek To Avoid Pain
Having Visualized and Articulated a Vision sufficiently that people understand it and are Persuaded to Movement, the hard part really begins. There is a reason why the Status Quo remains as such a compelling place in the heart of the procrastinating man that we all are. It is there, as compared to Movement, that the pain that necessarily results from change can be avoided. And we, animals that we partly are, do not like pain. We are programmed for survival to avoid it. Movement causes change and change results in pain. Thus, the body screams at the brain to stay right the heck where it is. And the brain usually obeys.
Obstacles Cause Pain
What is the source of the pain brought upon by change? Mainly, it’s the Obstacles encountered outside of the protective bubble of the Status Quo. Let’s take the most simple of Movements, that of the Fitness. A man Persuaded that his sedentary life is to his own and his family’s dis-Advantage decides to leave the Status Quo of his bed for an F3 Workout.
Because we start at 5:30 (that’s in the AM) on most weekdays, he will have to get up a lot earlier than usual—that’s painful. Because our Workouts take place outdoors in a publicly accessible location, the FNG he will find himself exposed to cold, heat, rain, cigarette butts and all the other things God and man puts outdoors—that’s painful. Because he’s been sitting on the couch (or plodding along on the elliptical trainer in the nice warm YMCA), the raw intensity of an F3 Workout will initially take his breath away, and maybe even make him throw up—that’s painful. Finally, because the men the FNG will find there have already gone through what he is experiencing, he will find himself bringing up the rear at first—that’s painful, emotionally painful.
So, between being unfit (where he was) and becoming Fit (the place to which he has embarked to Move) there are several painful Obstacles for the FNG: less sleep, the outdoor elements, the vomit and what he perceives as the shame of being last. Each of these Obstacles is sufficient to stop an FNG freshly sprung from the Status Quo in his tracks. That is why the Q has to do more than just encourage him to drive on. To get him through the Obstacles takes more than that. It takes Exhortation, loud and persistent. And this is why we say that F3 is not an Organization with Leaders, but an Organization OF Leaders. That is what is necessary to spread a Movement with as many Obstacles as we have. It’s not like starting a book club, where vomiting at the first meeting is possible but very unlikely.
Empathy Comes First
How do Leaders become highly skilled at Exhortation? There are probably as many factors as there are Leaders. But we do believe there to be a common underlying element to all Exhortation, and that is empathy. A Leader knows what the FNG is feeling because he felt the same way when he started out from the Status Quo. All Effective Exhortation starts right there, with an expression of “I know how you feel Brother. I was there, right where you are and I know how that feels. I have not forgotten. But, there is hope and that hope is how I feel now.” In F3, we call this the an expression of the Was-Now, which stands for there I WAS, then this happened, and here I am NOW.
Telling a man that the pain he feels is natural is critical to Exhortation, but it’s not the whole story. Exhortation also requires the Leader to dispense the hard kind of love that says yeah, we love you, but too much to leave you the way we found you. It’s the kind of love that responds to “I can’t”, with “bullshit, you just won’t”.
But Not Self-deceit
When I look back at the Leaders who have most IMPACTed me in my life, I realize that they were all a bunch of jerks. Not jerks in that they abused me, but in the sense that they declined to let me wallow in my own excuses for non-Movement and jerked me out of my cloud of self-deceit. They were the kind of jerks who called bullshit on my desire to procrastinate. The forced my lips off of the Crack Pipe Of Mañana so that I could inhale the clear pure air of right-the-heck-now.
When you try to picture a guy like that in your life do you find yourself resorting to movie characters? We ask that because true Exhortation is a very rare thing. It is much more common for people who call themselves leaders and mentors to accept excuses rather than reject them. What we lack in real life we create for ourselves in fantasy life.
Thus the question about Exhortation. Can you name a man in your life who is an Exhorter who exists outside of a celluloid fantasy? If you can, you are lucky. If you can’t, maybe its high time you became that kind of man yourself.
They are in short supply.