You may think that you are just a “small match”, but what you forget is that with that one small match you can make a huge impact; an EXPLOSION.
Last summer I traveled with my immediate family to Rhode Island and New Hampshire to be with my extended family for a wedding. All the activities were amazing and fun, but I think one of the best parts and a part that I always look forward to is the time I spend with my brother. As I have written before, my brother and I always end up on some adventure; usually more than what we had planned for.
I wrote a blog a while ago called "Watch & Listen: That's Leading?!" about how impactful just watching and then listening can be for a leader. I also stated that I was not very good at it. I recently had a performance evaluation and one of the blind spots I have is that I am not a very good listener. I think I knew this, but this definitely became reality as I listened to my evaluators share examples of when I wasn't truly listening. I really took this to heart and want to get better so I have begun a journey to improve my listening skills.
I was visiting a friend and her husband in Denver earlier this summer and we decided to take a hike up Mount Falcon. It was a great day for an Indiana "flat-lander," to just enjoy the amazing character of the Colorado Mountains. On our hike we came across the tree that you see behind the title of this post. It was amazing how it was able to grow around and over the rocks beneath it. I thought to myself that it had to have gone through some challenging storms both in the spring and winter seasons on top of this mountain. How did it hold on through all those challenges in its life? As I was sitting at the Global Leadership Summit a couple of weeks ago, Bill Hybels, a well-known pastor, author and speaker, talked about something that made me reflect on that unique tree on top of Mount Falcon. He stated that there were five aspects of intangible leadership. One of the aspects was "grit," which he fleshed out for the leaders in the audience.
John Muir once said, "In every walk with nature, one receives far more than one seeks." I totally believe this because I love seeing leadership intertwined in nature. There are so many views of leadership to reflect on, and I know I must miss a ton as I wander down paths and creeks depending on what I may be going through or have experienced most recently in my life. One view of leadership that I have seen a lot most recently has been the view of of humility. The picture behind the title of this post spoke to me and inspired the title because you can see that there is a tree on top of the hill ("the leader"), but that is not where the focus is. It is on the flowers ("others") that are all around that tree. I believe as leaders that this is exactly where our focus should always be. It should be on others around us and not ourselves.
I read an article the other day while sitting in the Dentist's office. It was called "What If Humans Had Eagle Vision" by Natalie Wolchover. I would have to say that it was interesting and was not what I had ever thought about when I had seen many eagles on my adventures. The article talked about how the eagle's eyes would allow humans to have a sharper focus, a central magnifier and also superior color vision.
The last few weeks have been a challenge for me since I only have a short amount of time left at my current workplace. It has been a challenge setting up my team to be in a position where they will be successful, but even more challenging has been the times of saying good bye to those people that I have worked with for six and half years. While it has been a challenge, it has also been a blessing. It has been amazing how many people have communicated to me how I have influenced them in their leadership. I hope that I don't come across as egotistical, because I am not trying to, but I want to share with you my intrinsic joy that I have felt as dear friends and co-leaders have thanked me for inspiring them. This has allowed them to lead their people in new ways, and then (this is the awesome part) seeing their people lead the same way.
Last night, my mother-in-law talked with me about the loss of her husband and about all the "stuff" that he accumulated like tools, notes from his Bible studies, knick-knacks and other things—they really don't matter now. When we go through his stuff, we throw most of it out. It was a numbing thought, but then we talked about what did matter. There were a few physical items that mattered only because they help us remember my father-in-law when he was here with us, but as we discussed what really mattered, it was obvious that it was the relationship that we had with him. The memories of him, of his face at certain moments, in times of pain and in times of immense joy. The times in the truck with him when he would let me drive. The times when I would do something well and he would pat me on the back and give me a word of encouragement.
I was reflecting the other day on where leadership happens. Where does inspiration take place? Where is the example seen? Where does the coaching with a pat on the back transpire? Have you ever thought about that before? Where has your true leading or influencing happened with those people at work, those in your home or those you just come into contact with? Hadrian, the 14th emperor of Rome, was known as the third of five emperors who ruled justly. From 117 -138 A.D., he was determined to consolidate the borders of the Roman Empire. In 122A.D., Hadrian began building a wall around his empire.
Sometimes it amazes me who inspires another person to live, to lead, or to win. What is amazing is that it doesn't have to be someone who has incredible attributes of physical strength. It doesn't have to be someone that has the ability to even use all their physical body parts. My experience has been, in almost all circumstances, that what inspires people are actually attributes that you did not initially see.
Stop trying to plan and just live 10 seconds at a time.
Wow! Did I just say that? For those of you that know me personally, you know that I am a HUGE planner and I never thought I would EVER say those words. A close friend of mine, Mike, who I respect very highly left me with those words a couple of weeks ago when I saw him in Dallas and I have been reflecting on them ever since.