Have you ever had one of those moments where someone says something during a conversation that knocks you flat on your rear-end and those haunting words or that phrase or that plaguing question reverberates in your mind for days and weeks to come?
I recently had one of those experiences. I was talking to my Grandmother–a godly lady that is full of wisdom and insights from traveling the world, constantly working with people, serving on the board of an accredited educational institution, working the late night shift at a hospital way past her retirement age…you get the idea.
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit her. As we stood in her kitchen around her island, just talking about life and experiences, success and failures she said this to me, “Ryan, you have a target on your back. The more you accomplish and the farther you go, you’re only making it more visible and easier for the Enemy to hit.”
My world froze as those words came out of my Grandma’s mouth. She continued talking not realizing the sheer force that those words had on me. Her voice trailed off as I thought about what she had said and really what she had meant by “a target on your back.” Most of the time, you expect your grandmother to give you “attaboys” and “I’m so proud of you…” And though my Grandma is very encouraging and supportive, this was a roundabout way to say, “Watch out and don’t let what you’ve done here on earth go to your head, because as soon as you do, you will crumble and fall.”
The Mighty Can Fall
If you are in a position of leadership or have some authority or power or even money, it can be easy to be consumed and overwhelmed by the accolades that you lose sight of the things that are most important in life. As you accomplish more–whether on a small or large scale–you naturally feel this sense of entitlement. You hold your head a little higher and walk with your shoulders back and chest out. All the while, a target is growing increasingly larger on your back. If you are not careful, right when you feel you are at your pinnacle of success, you will be knocked down and humbled so quickly. You will not know what hit you.
A Wake-up Call
Those insightful and incredibly powerful words my Grandma shared with me are so true. As leaders, we need to always be on guard. We need to exercise humility and realize why we are where we are. We need to surround ourselves with others who have gone before us and can guide us in our leadership journey as we move forward. Once of the wisest men I have ever met said this to me once, “Ryan, as soon as you think ‘That will never happen to me.’ is when the opposition will strike.” And I’ve never forgotten those words. We need to be accountable and humble in our successes and realize that we are human and we indeed can fall short of the mark.
There is nothing wrong with having a target on your back. It just means that you have to be extra careful in making decisions because the bigger you are, the harder you will fall. Don’t ever forget your armor. Equip yourself with tools that are necessary to keep your power in check. Whatever you do, be very aware of the target on your back.