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Good Leaders Need Good Soundtracks 

 January 7, 2024

By  Evan

The things we tell ourselves matter. They have a direct impact on our decisions, trajectory, ability to achieve goals, confidence, and so much more.

This, at least, is the concept in the book Soundtracks by Jon Acuff. (Leaders Go Last is reader supported, which means if you click on some of our links we may earn a commission).

What’s a soundtrack?

Others describe them as “mantras” or “values.” In The Culture Code, Daniel Coyle calls them “catchphrases.”

Essentially, a soundtrack is something we tell ourselves over and over again.

It may seem too simple or corny, but the growing body of research shows that the short statements we say to ourselves matter, and they impact our choices, beliefs, and confidence.

Positive soundtracks can push us up, and negative ones can drag us down. For this reason, our soundtracks should be positive, thoughts that encourage action and growth. For many of us, however, we tell ourselves a lot of negative soundtracks.

Writing and listening to good soundtracks is an important process for every leader. If you want to learn more on Soundtracks, I highly recommend Acuff’s book – it’s short, funny, and super helpful.

But he is not the only one who speaks to the importance of good soundtracks…

Soundtracks in the Bible

The concept of soundtracks is not new. In fact, there are several examples in the Bible. Here are three helpful ones that you could consider adding to your playlist:

Be Strong and Courageous:

When Moses dies, Joshua (Moses’s assistant) steps up to lead the people into the Promised Land. God speaks to him in Joshua 1:1-9, and provides him with clear guidance.

On three different occasions, God calls Joshua to “be strong and courageous.” Joshua is about to lead Israel into a scary place – one that the previous generation refused to go because the local Canaanites were so intimidating.

Joshua led the people well, he meditated on God’s Word, and he was indeed strong and courageous.

Put your hope in God:

In both Psalms 42 and Psalms 43, the author shares some very difficult circumstances. Statements like “My tears have been my food day and night” and “My soul is downcast within me” paint a fairly bleak picture.

Three times, however, the Psalmist reminds himself of the truth with these words:

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.

Sometimes God can feel distant, and sometimes we may feel alone. During these times, it is important to remind ourselves of the truth and to keep praising him.

I will speak with wisdom and tact:

In the story of Daniel, a King’s officer visits Daniel to let him know that he and all the other “wisemen” are going to be killed. This is not the kind of news I would want to hear if I were one of the King’s wisemen.

But in Daniel 2:14, the Bible says that Daniel spoke to the officer “with wisdom and tact.” Throughout the story of Daniel, frequent mentions are made of Daniel’s wisdom – even King Nebuchadnezzar praises his wisdom.

People can have strong opinions and can easily be offended. When someone attacks you, it’s easy to want to fight back (just take a quick look at social media).

Great leaders know how to speak to their audience, and they speak with wisdom and tact. This is one of my constant prayers, and something I repeat to myself whenever I’m in a difficult conversation. “May I speak with wisdom and tact.”

A few other soundtracks

I’ve been thinking through the different soundtracks in my life, and I’m trying to rewrite and replace some old ones.

In addition to the three I’ve pulled from the Bible up above, here’s a few of them:

  • Keep taking the next step
  • Tell more stories
  • Humility starts with confidence, and confidence starts with competence
  • I don’t need snacks after 8pm
  • Help others be the hero
  • Value people over things
  • I’m good at infotainment and I’m going to keep getting better
  • Leaders are going to lead

What about You?

What about you? Do you have any soundtracks that work for you already? Do you have any negative ones that are holding you back?

What soundtracks are you playing in your mind this year?

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