In his book, The Slight Edge, Jeff Olson talks about the ability that each of us has to grow just 1% each day. To get better in incremental steps.
We’ve all seen images like this before. The monarch butterfly caterpillar changing into a chrysalis. I watched a video on this just now. I had forgotten that the caterpillar split and the chrysalis came from the inside. And eventually the monarch butterfly will emerge from the inside.
What a great illustration of transformation!
I see a lot of new leaders trying to do certain things to demonstrate their leadership. But much of what I’ve seen, and I’m sure you’ve seen, are the changes that somebody makes only on the outside. Things that people readily see.
Transformation begins on the inside.
If you are reading this and you are a leader, I hope you desire to grow. But it’s not merely doing the acts of leadership that makes you a great leader. It is the transformation from within that provides the motivation, “steam”, the energy to propel your leadership to greater influence.
I recently picked up John C. Maxwell’s new book, No Limits. I’ve been reading it for the past couple of days. Here’s an excerpt from his chapter entitled “Emotional Capacity.”
“Emotional capacity is the ability to handle adversity, failure, criticism, change, and pressure in a positive way…However, emotionally strong people are able to manage their emotions and process through difficulties. That allows them to increase their capacity and moves them closer to reaching their full potential.”
“Emotionally strong people do not expect immediate results. As they approach life, they know they are in it for the long haul. As they face struggles, they do so with energy and fortitude. They understand that genuine success takes time. They try new things and fail. They run into obstacles but persevere. They keep going, keep working. They focus on the right decisions they need to make, and make them quickly. They realize that they may change their direction overnight, but they won’t arrive at their destination overnight. They keep their eye on the big picture, and they don’t quit.”
“Controlling what you can and not wasting energy on what you can’t is one of the most important lessons we can learn in life.”
“One mark of resilience is learning to tell which pain deserves our attention paying attention to every pain, all the time, doesn’t lead to resilience. It usually leads to whining.”
On my way into work this morning, I was listening to John Lee Dumas’ podcast, “Entrepreneur on Fire”. In the episode I listened to (#1482 from November 11, 2016), John was interviewing Rob Moore, author of Disruptive Entrepreneur. I would highly recommend taking time to listen to EOFire. Whether you are striving to become an entrepreneur or not, you will learn valuable insights into yourself, your work, and your world.
During an interaction, Rob pointed out that John had emphasized the word “responsibility” as “response ability”. They had a great exchange following that. For obvious reasons.
This past Friday, my company held its 3rd annual all-employee education day. It was a great time to learn, collaborate, and stretch. But now it’s Monday morning. What are we all doing with all that information we were exposed to?
Studies show that probably only 5% of us will actually act on new insights we’ve been exposed to. That’s it! Only 5%!
But dove-tailing off of EOFire this morning, you have the “response ability” to do more with what you learn.
- You read an article that directly applies to your line of work. Take time to share it with someone on your team. Find out if your work should change based upon new ideas you discovered.
- You read a book about personal growth. Create an action plan to put what you’ve learned into practice. Today.
- You attended a seminar that got you all pumped up. Journal about what you learned, how you felt, and what you intend to do about this new insight.
In other words, when you learn something new, TAKE ACTION! That’s your response ability. As Jeff Olson in The Slight Edge says, take daily, disciplined action toward your goals and you will succeed.
Are you taking responsibility? Make a plan. Do the plan. Don’t let great insight and experience go to waste.
You can’t do everything yourself. Yet, the moment you start adding people you have–by definition–people problems. And dealing with people problems keeps you, the entrepreneur/founder, away from the things you are good at–finding new markets and implementing new ideas.
As a result, your company suffers. It loses market share or stops growing because you are forced to spend too much of your time looking inside your company, instead of searching outside for new markets.
Perhaps even worse, you are dealing with personel problems at exactly the same time that the problems of managing growth are coming at you faster than you ever dreamed of.
As a result of all this, you are spending too little time doing what you should be doing, determining how to increase sales and profits.
Obviously, the solution is to create layers of management that free you to think bigger thoughts than who should go on vacation when. But it is not that easy. Even when an entrepreneur is willing to delegate, and actually tries to, there are potential:
1. Communication problems. What you say and what your managers hear are not always the same.
2. Style problems. No two managers are the same. And no manager is exactly the same as the boss.
3. Employee resentment problems (I). When you bring in a new leader, the first reaction from the orchestra is likely to be “why wasn’t I chosen to lead the band?”
4. Employee resentment problems (II). If you join Apple today, you don’t expect to waltz into the CEO’s office any time you choose. But at small companies, it is different. Employees expect that kind of access. That is especially true of an employee who was there when the company was formed. He is not going to like it when he finds the door to the boss’ office is suddenly closed and he is told to see someone else–someone with a less impressive title than CEO.
Interact with Paul at the link below:
Paul B. Brown is the co-author of Just Start published by Harvard Business Review Press.
What you were trained to do: wait for a good, generous, munificent, tasteful, smart boss or client to tell you what to do.
If that doesn’t happen, blame the system, blame the boss, blame the client. If the work is lousy, it’s the client’s fault. If the boss doesn’t see or understand your insight, that’s his fault. You are here to serve, and if they don’t get it, well, that’s too bad for all concerned.
What you might consider: Lead up. (Thanks to Pat Tierney for the phrase).
A great designer gets great clients because she deserves them. One of the ways that she became a great designer was by leading her clients to make good decisions, to have better taste, to understand her insight and have the guts to back it. That doesn’t happen randomly. It happens when someone leads up.
A successful middle manager gets promoted when she takes the right amount of initiative, defers the right amount of credit and orchestrates success. That success might happen despite (not because) of who her bosses are, and that’s just fine, because she’s leading up.
In many ways, we get the bosses and clients we deserve. If they’re holding you back, change them.
We have an astonishing amount of freedom at work. Not just the freedom to call meetings, make phone calls and pitch ideas, but yes, the freedom to quit, to find a new gig, to pick the clients we’re going to take on and to decide how we’re going to deal with a request from someone who seems to have far more power than we do. “Yes, sir” is one possible answer, but so is leading from below, creating a reputation and an environment where the people around you are transformed into the bosses you deserve.
When you do this with intention, it gets easier and easier. From afar, it seems impossible, and it will be until you commit to it.
Do it on purpose
Tell stories that resonate with those in charge
Demand responsibility, don’t worry about authority
Reflect credit, embrace blame
Earn the right by taking small steps
Convene, organize, learn, teach and lay the foundation
If they don’t get it, go somewhere that does [slash] hire better clients, regardless of the fee