I assume that you are busy. Most everybody I know is. Even people who seem to have plenty of time fell the need to act like they are completely busy.
Ever see the movie “Office Space?”
Busy Busy Busy
So let’s all agree we are busy. What should be the top priority of a leader if she is going 100 miles an hour? Well, I would argue that priority #1 is to develop the best possible relationships with those she leads. I recently read a quote from Jeffrey Cohen and Jay Moran’s book entitled Why we are so bad at picking leaders. They said, “You can define leadership by the strength of their relationships.” Wow. If that is true than how I lead has everything to do with how I build and develop relationships with those that I lead.
Here is the one action step that I have learned over and over again. If I want to have strong, thriving relationships I have to do one thing: INITIATE.
I go first.
I pick up the phone.
I pick up the check.
I set up the tee time.
Whatever it is, I initiate. Every time I initiate, I increase the strength of my leadership and influence.
I hate surprises. Well hate is a strong word. Truth is, I had a surprise party gone wrong at the age of 21. Three huge guys in ski masks ran into my dorm room punched me, grabbed me, tied me up and took me to a lake where 30 people wished me a joyous day. Not the best party…
Enough of my therapy inducing past.
Have you ever noticed that in the important initiatives of your life there is often a “Surprise”? By Surprise (capital S) I mean something that is unwanted and unexpected. I’m not complaining, no, just stating a fact. The unexpected comes… and at least in my life, it’s quite often.
I think I suffer from chronic ‘best case’ thinking. I expect things to work just like I planned. Silly expectation really, because things rarely turn out as schemed. Sometimes better, but most of the time there is an unexpected obstacle. “Surprise!”
I’ve noticed that as soon as I start to experience a “Surprise” that I get totally self-absorbed. The natural inclination is just to think about ME. This obsession actually paralyzes me from moving forward.
So one of the great lessons that I have learned from my “Surprises” is actually a principle I learned from George Costanza of Seinfeld fame. His whole life was a “Surprise” so he decided to do the opposite of everything he would normally do. Even though that’s not a great lifestyle, could it be that the antidote to “Surprise” is counter intuitive? “Surprise” screams be selfish. Problem is, it doesn’t work.
Here’s the challenge for myself and anyone else who experiences a “Surprise”: When things start to unravel, GIVE. Give money, give time, give whatever away. Not only does it feel good, it actually crystallizes my thoughts back into the ability to solve my problem.
For the past few years my friends and colleagues have been on me to start a blog. Ok… here goes. But why now? I think it has everything to do with this image.
In this simple picture I see three things that drive me forward.
1. Learning and Leading go together. What we learn needs to translate into the influence of others. Everything that has ever made a difference in someone else’s life was at some point shared learning. Why should I learn anything new and keep it to myself?
2. Learning and Leading are next to each other. They fit into the same picture. Most of the lessons I have learned over the course of my life have never really taken root until I applied it in the context of relationships with others.
3. Learning and Leading don’t happen automatically. They are like buttons that need to be pushed. On purpose.
So here is my next level: Learn… maybe like never before. In every situation where I am stuck. In every role that takes me out of comfort. In every relationship. In every opportunity… Learn. And then Lead.
Every Lesson requires Leadership. yep, that’s my next level. Could it be yours too?