Thoughts on Building a Bridge

“In order to build a bridge, I must have anchors in both sides of the canyon.” This quotation is inspired by some thoughts I heard in the latest Andy Stanley leadership podcast. While I don’t believe this was actually said word-for-word, they definitely brought out this idea. If we are to impact people and ever help them to improve, we must focus on building bridges to them . . . and building bridges requires that we have anchors on both the side of the canyon we are on, and an anchor on their side.

The alternate can be compared to shooting arrows over the canyon. We do this by pointing fingers at “them”, by speaking in judgmental sound-bites towards or about “them”, and/or by using our words and position to target “them” to change — without ever realizing that we have no credibility or influence with “them” to begin with.

Anchoring on “Our” Side of the Canyon

Once we decide to build a bridge, we must begin by being certain of where we currently stand. What beliefs and ideas do we know to be true, and what beliefs and ideas do we want to lead those we are trying to reach towards? We don’t need all the answers, but we need the certainty to be solid in where we currently are. An anchor runs deep, and before we are able to even help others, we need to be sure that we don’t have a “log in our own eye” that is blinding us from seeing the world clearly.

Personally for me, this means I need to change some things in my own life. While I am solid in my beliefs, I am not as visible with them as I could/should be. When a bridge is built, the more time passes and the project progresses, the more obvious the place where the bridge leads is evident. If I am not open with others about where I stand, then that makes it very difficult to lead people anywhere, because the “where” has not been defined.

People are unlikely to follow someone (for long) who doesn’t have a clear picture of where things are headed. Any leader who is worthy of followers must have a clear conviction of where they currently are, and where they are headed — and the better they are able to communicate this to their followers, the better. Conviction about a truth will work initially, logic about the truth will last a little longer, but it takes experiencing the truth to solidify it in any follower’s life.

Shooting arrows over a canyon does not lead to any life-changing experience. The only things it leads to are hurt, resentment, and greater distance. Bridge building instead leads to connection, relationship, and new experiences.

Next week, we will look at the next part of bridge building: Anchoring on the far side of the canyon.

In the meantime, would you share your thoughts about bridge-building, about anchoring on the near side of the canyon, and if you have ever shot arrows instead of built bridges.

Thanks in advance! I’m anxious to read your thoughts and experiences!