What Are Your Hills?

Choose the hill you will die on.
— (unsourced military strategy)

I am not completely sure where I first heard this expression, but it has become one of my favorites.  When I typed it into my google machine, I thought I would find an incredible lineage of utterances in crucial military circumstances.  What I mostly found was that some misguided NHL official had quoted it in the context of a league lockout and was drawing considerable fire as a result.

Nonetheless, it is still a very powerful statement.  The hill you will die on is the place or position you will fight for with your very last breath.  It is the ground that will not be surrendered… you will do everything in your power to advance and preserve.  It is the songs you have committed to your Father to never stop singing.

I’ve found myself using that expression on a more regular basis of late, but it has been reserved for some very specific things.  There is something about this saying that evokes the much more significant beginnings of where it was likely first uttered.

I think it is crucially important to know what those hills are for you.  Here are a few of mine:

  • Everyone is uniquely created and wonderfully made.  God meant something when He meant us.  We bear the image of God uniquely and specifically.
  • Organizations (corporations and small businesses included) exist to make the lives of people better… employees, clients, and everyone else they interact with.
  • Facts tell and stories tell.  Sharing powerful stories of transformation (especially in your own life or organization) is the key to changing the lives of others.
  • Marriage is a glorious and powerful vehicle for modeling Christ’s great love for us (the Church).  It is, meant to make us more holy, entered into as a covenant with God and has huge consequences when it is broken.
  • We were meant for relationship and community.  We cannot go it alone.  Family is not defined by the house we were born into, but by the collection of believers we choose to do life with.
  • Children are a heritage of the Lord.  We have a stewardship responsibility to not make them successful as the world defines, but to make them holy.  Our primary objective is to hand them over to their true Father and establish that right relationship.
  • As we age our focus should narrow, but our impact should increase.
  • Everything and everyone was created for a single purpose; to glorify God.  Helping individuals and organizations figure how they can most powerfully do that, should be the defining objective for all of us.

These are some of mine.  These are the ideas and concepts that I have committed my life to preserving and advancing.  I will fight to see them established and work to see them flourish in the life of every leader and the families and organizations they lead.

I most recently used this with a prospective coaching client.  They wanted to establish a clear set of Vision, Values, and Purpose for their organization and establish and initiate a new leadership team.  They said they’ve had a parade of consultants come through their company for years and each had produced some flowery words and grand plan for their path forward in a nice document.  Each had been dropped in a file and had not been referred to since.  I told them that the hill I would die on is to make sure that all God’s grandest and uniquely defined intentions we uncover, would be realized.  No matter what it took.

As we stumble into a new year with all the challenges and unforeseen bends in the road awaiting, getting clear on your “hills” has never been more important.

  • What are the hills you will die on?
  • Are those you love and lead clear on what those things are?
  • What are you willing to sacrifice to hold that ground?