One of the greatest gifts I’ve received I would not wish upon anyone. As one of approximately 10% of the population I have a learning disability, dyslexia. Just the word dyslexia is agonizing. What cruel person creates a word, so incredibility difficult to spell, to label a disability of people who struggle with spelling. Even Noah Webster, I believe, would ask for a do over on this one.
Today, there appears to be a subtle drift as to how people, in general, understand leadership. The confusion stems from two opposing points of view regarding a foundational tenet of what it means to be a leader. On one side is the idea of “Forced-Authority”; on the other, “Authentic-Influence.”
In a world obsessed with being heard we find ourselves surrounded by multiple streams of communication every waking moment. The bombardment of words into our mind is nonstop. Written, spoken, or sung we are encircled by words. They express our thoughts and feelings and impact our behavior.
In my last letter to the younger me I reminded myself of the importance of leading with love. Life as a father is more enjoyable when you keep in mind the simple insights I left in my last note: Give the benefit of the doubt, balance your counsel, and vulnerability builds character.
Speaking in front of people is not always easy for me. Even with two decades of experience and a deep joy once I get started, speaking publicly still takes my breath away at times. Anyone who has given multiple presentations can tell stories of horror from a public speaking moment.
In an effort to dig deeper on the idea of making common sense more common, I enlisted the assistance of my friend, Carol Jenkins, PhD, to help bring some sense to the mystery behind the lack of common sense. When I first approached her with the question, “Why is common sense so difficult for people?” I received the classic affirming smile, which reassured me I asked an important, yet intriguing, question.
Is it just me or has common sense become less common? For some unknown reason, we are losing our ability to think and act with good judgment. Have we entered into a disastrous spiral of social apathy? Have we become so self-centered we have lost our ability to consider others? It seems we have allowed our selflessness muscles along with our good judgement to atrophy.
In the hard driving world of business a person would be hard pressed to find an organization not focus on growth. Many a wise sage have quoted the maxim, “If you are not growing you are dying.”For some leaders the idea of growth, most commonly measured in terms of year-over-year progress, is an all-consuming ambition. The very heartbeat of an entrepreneur is to undertake an idea and grow it to its fullest potential.
Once in the air in route to a three-day weekend getaway my bride asked the all too familiar question, “What are we going to do this weekend?” to which I replied, “Nothing.” With a gleeful tone in her voice she replied, “Awesome, what are doing first?”
Putting down the book I was reading I responded with a bit of curiosity, “What did you have in mind?” Then it happened, the do-nothing list was presented creating an overpowering sensation in my currently overworked mind.
Each day we awake to a new chapter in our life’s journey. How we chose to write our story is truly up to us. There are days along the way which feel out of sorts, disjointed, and at times hopeless. To minimize these days you should check in on your journey along the way. Here are a few simple insights to consider.
Personally I have experienced days where my wellbeing is low. The daily ebb and flow of life can create moments of wellbeing deficiency. What I have learned is this; to protect myself from extended periods of anemic wellbeing I need a two-step approach to energizing my life.
In my first letter to the younger me I reminded myself of three very simple principles of life; I am here for a purpose, life is complex find the simple, and I can direct my destiny. With Father’s Day approaching I felt compelled to provide some additional wisdom to the younger father version of me.
Below are my study notes for a talk I had the honor to give at the Irving Bible Church Big Man Conference. I wanted the notes to be available for the 100 men who attended as a take away. So, I began preparing a handout to give the group. Then I was asked an interesting question.
Since the classic movie Back To The Future first appeared we have been obsessed with time travel. The fact Doc Brown may have been on to something has been a true fascination. Given the demographics of the vast, every expanding readership of this platform, it is within reason one of its many readers has in fact had a Doc Brown moment.
In the world of leadership, the principle of connection ranks close to the top of the list. The basic idea of leadership is about influence. The effectiveness, efficiency, and sustainability of our influence rises and falls on our ability to connect with others. Our ability to successfully communicate with others is directly related to our ability to connect with our audience. Yes, connection is vital.
Burnout. At some point in our life we will all face periods of burnout. The sad reality is we rarely recognize when we are in burnout mode until it is too late. By then the damage has been done. An extended period of burnout creates “purpose creep”, which is the slow drift away from our center to a place of frustration and disengagement.
In The Kingmaker the center character, Kyle Ellis, has a conversation with one of his Kings. The conversation centers on the Empire State Building. Construction of this magnificent building began in 1930 and still stands proudly today.
“The story I am writing in my head about us has changed from the early days. The story began with purpose and a passion to help others achieve their greatest dream, which included me. That story has changed, Kyle. It is no longer driven by purpose. The story that is being written today is one of only you.”
Life is challenging at times. Even during times of struggle it is possible to be on purpose.
What I have discovered is there are four important areas to consider when dealing with setbacks in life. These important considerations will help you as you focus your energy on improving in any area of life.
Having spent time as a leader in HR, I encountered countless people seeking career advice. The questions almost always come around to purpose and passion.
When you understand that purpose is about why you are here and where you are going and passion is the energy that drives purpose, it becomes easier to crack the career code. It is not uncommon for someone to approach me complaining about their job and how it doesn’t fulfill their purpose.
As leaders at work, in our community, or in our home we should realize each day we have a choice to make. The choice, as with many choices in life, is simple yet not always easy to execute. We must choose today the storyline of our day.
I am excited to be starting a new, eight-part series called The Difference-Maker Leader. We’ll be looking at what that means, why it’s important to your success, and how you can achieve it…how YOU can be a difference-maker leader.
The first trait of being an effective Difference-Maker Leader is:
The comfort zone is perhaps the most dangerous place for a leader. It’s the place where dreams die. It’s the place where nothing changes. Sure, there are perks to the comfort zone: fewer headaches, less risk, and no heart-stopping moments of panic. But there’s also no growth. A difference-maker leader does not spring from the comfort zone, but is borne by trial and error, risk and reward.
In a recent talk to 500 business leaders I began with a statement about the hospitality industry I consider a basic principle of service, “The guest experience will never exceed the team member experience”. If we expect our people to deliver a quality service, product, or experience for our guests we must first, as leaders, deliver a quality experience for our team. Yet, this concept seems to escape many leaders around the world expect for the true Difference-Maker Leader.