If it is undefined, it is unknown, and therefore untapped
The numbers. Never the full story.
If not for my mistakes, failures, and setbacks, I have no message worth sharing with you.
The times when you truly learned about who you are, and who you are capable of becoming.
I share these stories, and people share them back. Trust is formed, and when people talk about the experiences that define them, they inevitably refer to a time of struggle.
The time they went inwardly deep, to outwardly grow.
The world constantly reminds us that we might not be quite who we thought we are, and as painful as it is, we are somehow grateful.
We find wisdom.
Such is now.
Such is leadership.
Look around. Everywhere you see ambiguity and uncertainty. You feel the friction. The polarisation of views, mainly as it relates to decisions of which we have little control.
This anxiety is being amplified. Daily. There is no escaping it, and we become drawn to it. An excuse to be distracted.
Leaders at all levels are carrying a great weight, and they have probably never felt less able. The struggle is palpable.
They need to go deep. Find something.
Going deep is hard, and there is a playbook of excuses not to. For starters, there are plenty of people to blame. Deflect responsibility by pointing critical fingers at distant leaders who may or may not be, depending on who you ask or where your bias sits, doing what needs to be done.
Your blaming, criticism and deflection will find friends easily, get plenty of ‘likes’ for your LinkedIn post or your Twitter feed, but offer nothing for those who need much more from you.
To be better. The role expects it of you.
As Steve Pressfield says, you need to “Turn Pro”.
“The amateur tweets. The professional works,” he says.
The professional works hard, no doubt, but they always seek means to make hard work easier to make space for more hard work. They do not wait for motivation to strike; they operate in expectation of it. They are ready for it. They have a system.
It begins with a small action. Start now. Space to think, but real thinking hasn’t happened if a pencil is not scratching paper, a marker is not sliding along a whiteboard, or fingers aren’t tapping a keyboard. Be intentional. Be purposeful. On purpose to find purpose.
Write down the question:
“What does this situation expect of me?”
Then write down four words:
Record your thoughts under each word. For example:
Do you have the humility to stay curious? Knowing that you don’t know what you need to know to go to a place that is unknown and unknowable.
Are you brave enough to take that uncomfortable step, a step often only you know you need to take?
Are you calm enough to allocate the appropriate amount of emotional response? Pause. Take a breath. Let the anger subside. Don’t press send!
How about your compassion levels? Starting with you. Look at yourself, and like what you see.
The future vision requires imagination, what Owen Eastwood describes as the creation of ‘forward memories’, to ignite, motivate and bond individuals into teams through a shared future and journey they will undertake together. This is a fundamental responsibility of leadership, so often left to chance.
Imagination requires courage, and therefore a need to cross a bridge called vulnerability.
Pete Carroll, coach of the Seattle Seahawks, describes it succinctly by asking his team this question:
“If it was really good…what would it be like?”.
There is an opportunity to share the responsibility with your team. Not as an abdication of your leadership responsibility, but a means of connecting them to the vision, so it becomes part of them. They will bring the colour, the nuance that will be critical to its achievement.
We only ever bring one set of eyes and ears, but most significantly, one imagination to any situation.
Then, with every interaction, reference and remind the team of where you are heading, celebrating the ‘small wins’ as you build the capability to achieve it.
Remember, ‘if it is undefined, it is unknown, and therefore untapped’.
This is your responsibility.
This is what the moment expects of you.
There has never been a better opportunity for leaders to lead.
“If you’re not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback. If you have constructive feedback you want to give me, I want it… But if you’re in the cheap seats, not putting yourself on the line, and just talking about how I can do it better, I’m in no way interested in your feedback.”
From Brené Brown: Why Your Critics Aren’t The Ones Who Count
Turning Pro – Steve Pressfield
From the book:
How your life changes when you turn pro?
When we turn pro, we stop running from our fears. We turn around and face them.
How your day changes when you turn pro?
When we turn pro, everything becomes simple. Our aim centers on the ordering of our days in such a way that we overcome the fears that have paralyzed us in the past.
How people change when you turn pro?
Turning pro changes how we spend our time and with whom we spend it.
How your mind changes when you turn pro?
Turning pro is like kicking a drug habit or stopping drinking. It’s a decision, a decision to which we must re-commit every day.
…and a timeless song lyric:
The Cruel Sea – Better Get a Lawyer
I wasn’t doin’ nothin’
Just what is it that I’m supposed to have done?
With bloodshot eyes and bleedin’ hands
I put my new suit in the cleaners again
I took the first bus
I didn’t look back
Lungs long blowin’ like a smokestack
Hair fallin’ out as the wind blows through it
My horse ran second
Just like I knew it would
Then the officer said
Better get a lawyer, son
You better get a real good one
Better get a lawyer, son
You better get a real good one
CEO & Founder
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