Self-awareness. This is probably one of the most difficult one as it’s difficult looking into a mirror to see yourself as others do. I can see myself, but it takes a lot of work — and not to mention amazing friends — to tell you what you don’t want hear. One question I’ve been challenged with and begun asking is, “who are you trying to impress?”
Behavior from Childhood
Another question: “what behavior from my childhood is seeping into my actions today?” I heard a speaker give examples of successful CEOs that made rash decisions because of childhood tendencies. It made complete sense in their heads since that’s how they made decisions from their childhood. Example: successful female CEO leads a nonprofit through much growth…but when there is fighting on the board for the next strategic steps…she resigns. Why? Whenever her parents would fight, should would take flight and run.
So what behavior from my childhood is dictating my actions? How do I see those? How do I overcome? Low self awareness can cause repeat issues and doing the same mistakes I made as a kid….Am I tethered to the decisions I made as a kid? In cases, yes. In others, I’ve grown. But what are they?
We all have them. Most of us have three. If anyone doesn’t have a blind spot, I’ve been told they have four. I think I am excelling in an area and then find out (likely through one or more friends) that I’m failing. Miserably. That’s why having honest, true friends is such a crucial issue for leaders. Without them, we fall.
Without knowing my blind spots and being aware of my childhood tendencies, that will ruin relationships. Let us not allow these to ruin our wonderful relationships we’ve spent so much time cultivating!
It demands feedback from friends. “Tell me the brutal truth. Do you think I have some blind spots? What would they be? Don’t edit them”. When our friends answer us, don’t fear. These are coming from people who are rooting for you. They are cheering you on and want to see you succeed.
Fail. But fail fast and learn. Grow. See this as a journey and not a scantron exam to try and ace. We will never ace is because people are messy, but being a terrific leader can create real change.
Grit. Passion and perseverance over the long haul.
Am I really willing to take it on? To pursue even when tired, worn out, or ready to throw in the towel? Grit. That’s what I need to pursue. That’s how, over the long term horizon, I’ll attain.
If grit is what it takes to finish it, the opposite is ease. That’s the Sirens’ Song from Homer’s Odyssey. It’s what calls to us when we’re weak and we decide to yield to their call rather than focusing on getting home.
Growing grit in one area leads to added grit in other areas. Playing basketball on the weekends allows me to push myself physically and push myself to win. That, in turn, teaches me to be gritty in other areas — say, work. It’s one way we can over-deliver and simply avoid doing the minimum. Team activities, like basketball or Riskalyze, sharpens one another…when we work hard, we achieve and fail. In turn we learn from our accomplishments and mistakes and become grittier, more determined, and better people because of it.
Grit. It’s what is necessary in a leader and what I desperately need.
I’ve been discussing aspects of leadership for a short jaunt but I’ve been reminded I need to think much more deeply about this.
This will be the first in a mini series on what intangible attributes we, as leaders, must have to prevail. I’ll cover the attributes laid out at a recent conference with one specific question in mind: how does this affect my leadership?
Bill Hybels — a pastor in the Chicago area — in a room of clergy, businessmen, and government leaders stated this one line: “Armed with enough humility we can learn from anybody.” I’ve not forgotten that. Though it’s hinge is humility, I’ve begun asking myself with the question of whether or not I can swallow my pride to truly hear what others are saying.
Conversely, it’s really easy to say, “yeah, yeah, yeah. I know” whether or not I “know.”
I was recently posed with the question: “Is it possible that we’re actually at our best when we know the very least? When we’re new…we are rookies.”
For me, I’ve already outlined that I felt inadequate to blog because I entered a new career, a new area, a new…you get the point. Yet it’s in this fog and confusion that I can really shine — not when I’ve got all the proven facts and abilities.
For most of us, we want to move down the learning curve to become better at our jobs, roles, projects, etc. This is important. It has it’s place. But some downsides are that once we have knowledge, we tend to make assumptions. We see the patterns, so we fill in the gaps.
The upside of inexperience is that although we have a long way to mastery, we tend to work in pioneer mode because we’re desperate. We’re on the frontier and we’re working in scrappy ways. The way it was put to me is this: with a small, easy challenge, are you really satisfied? Yet we do great work in this awkward state of emotion to reduce the tension. Sort of like why we, as teenagers, wanted to grow up quickly so we’d stop being dorky forever.
A better explanation of the learning curve is thus:
Early on we’re confused, but we build steam and eventually, unless continually hitting new challenges, become bored. We then tend to put in less effort. We don’t see the game as challenging. We become frustrated. We lose interest.
I got my wish. To many out there this will sound ridiculous, but to me: giddy with joy.
I got to listen to Horst Schulze speak. The former president of Ritz Carlton. In my role at Riskalyze, I’ve much to learn. There are so many areas I want to push beyond what is accepted and what I’m capable of.
Some key takeaways I hope to grow in. Although stated by everyone, he had the emotion behind the statement: we don’t talk to businesses, we talk to people. They are your neighbors. People are your employees, your vendors, your customers.
Every employee has a major role — although companies simply hire someone to wash dishes, they take it very seriously. On average, they interview 10 people before the select one. Ten. For someone to wash dishes. That is commitment and caring for the customer that I wish I had!
Why is it that important to him? Why do they go to such extremes? Because, in Horst’s mind, service is your product. You may go to a bank and get a defect-free product, timely service, but if it’s poor service, what will you remember? What will you tell others?
In the case of a bank, a hotel, an airlines…the service is the product. The type of caring that employees give. This is how we create loyal, loving, trusting customers.
I hope one day to get close to this level of focus on the customer.