When I first entered the world of travel and speaking, I was giddy with the fact that I was now in control of my own life. It was such a rush knowing that I would never have to attend a board meetings or answer answer to any committees again.
I took offense when I met a friend at the airport one day and he asked me this question. “To whom are you accountable?” With a defensive pride I answered, “I am my own boss. I am accountable to no one!” Before the plane reached 30,000 ft my pride had turned to fear. And within just a few years my Lone Ranger style of living my life almost led to disaster.
Here are 4 critical reasons not to live or lead like the Lone Ranger.
1. As a lone ranger we will always be tempted to forget where we are going.
In College I submitted to the friendship and authority of a professor who cared about me. One day he called me to his office and admonished me for failing a test. He reminded me of my spoken commitment to be everything God wanted me to be and pointed out that my lazy lifestyle and sloppy preparation were not consistent with that commitment.
I will never forget how difficult it was to hear the caring words he spoke as I left his office. “You are capable of passing any test I give you. Live up to the potential God gave you and don’t ever fail one of my tests again.” I never failed another one of his tests. And although I have failed several tests in life since then, I have always been drawn back by my professor’s challenge to keep my commitment. “Be everything God created you to be.”
2. As a lone ranger we will easily be discouraged.
Trusting others to keep you accountable in life can also bring great benefits during the difficult times of life. When tragedy strikes or the road gets difficult every one of us needs someone to encourage us to keep going.
I tell this story in detail in my book Fully Alive. Several years ago I found myself near the top of a mountain, totally exhausted. Lightning was striking all around me. We had been hiking for hours and I could not find the strength to make it to safety.
When I finally crumpled to my knees and cried out that I could not go any further, my friend and adviser Danny de Armas, pulled me up by my arm. “You can do it Ken,” he shouted over a clap of thunder. “One step at a time Ken, one step at a time.” The fact that you are reading these words is proof that, because of his encouragement, I made it…. one step at a time. When discouragement paralyzes, supporting friends can help you take the next step.
3. As the lone ranger we will always have to wear the mask.
One of the benefits of growing older is that I no longer want to wear the stupid mask. I don’t want there to be an unreasonable gap between my public image and my personal reality. Some gaps will always exist because the perception of the public differs from reality.
Spotlights, pulpits, platforms, microphones, and fame all tend to blur what is real. But every man and woman needs to have friends and associates who know what they look like without the mask. A group that practices tough love and challenges them to be stronger where they are weak and celebrates their strengths.
I need more than fans. I need friends who love me blemishes and all.
4. As the lone ranger we will be vulnerable to the one who seeks to destroy.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1Peter 5:8)
On several occasions throughout my life I have ridden at a full gallop down some side trail that led away from my calling. Some of those trails were leading to places of disaster and shame. Every time… every single time… it was the painful intervention of friends or caring associates that saved me and got me back on the right trail.
I ride with more confidence today than ever before because I have a posse that rides with me. Still today they occasionally point out behavior or distractions that do not fit my ultimate goals in life. It is still as uncomfortable as it was decades ago, and it is still just as valuable.
More importantly, I can enjoy the ride because whether my posse is working hard to keep me on the main trail, or celebrating a victory at full gallop, I know I am not riding alone.
So I toss mask to the wind, throw back my head and with a hearty shout of “High Ho Silver!” I ride toward whatever adventure God has for me today.
Do you have a posse?
Have you ever felt like the Lone Ranger?[reminder]