I’ve been in a reflective head space lately. A significant chapter of work is coming to a close at the end of 2019 and it’s made me think about the big leadership lessons that have formed me into the person I am today.
Six lessons stand out from the past few decades…
I recently worked with a team in the midst of a major change. Their company was acquired. Everything is in flux. Questions like “Who will be redundant and let go? and “What will the ‘new normal’ look like?” were frequently posed. In the midst of this uncertainty and chaos, it was Kairos’ role was to help them have a healthy conversation to air their fears and determine a path forward despite the disruption and uncertainty.
Through all of the fears that come with transitions, however, I witnessed a few universal themes play out.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret…
I hate failing! I hate looking like I don’t know what I’m doing or that I wasn’t adequately prepared. I usually try to avoid that at all costs. I was reminded of this pattern just a few weeks ago during a staff meeting. During a spirited exchange of ideas, I just sat there. I had thoughts and opinions running through my head, but I was silent. In that moment, I realized 3 things about my relationship with failure.
I’m the Co-Founder and President of Rare Bird, an internet marketing firm. I’ve recently had the opportunity, if you will, to experience a pretty significant sea change in my world, and it allowed me the chance to reflect on how we react to changes of all kinds.
A few months ago, one of my business partners left the company after 18 years. He was the very definition of a key man: with me from the beginning, he was an integral part of the way we ran the business, the success we’ve had, and the decisions we made. When the opportunity to run a family business came up, he discussed it with several trusted advisors and decided to make the leap. From my perspective, it was the right choice, even though it would require huge changes for his entire family — not to mention being incredibly disruptive for Rare Bird.
As the New Year begins, many of us are filled with hope and excitement about what this next year will bring. That is definitely the case for all of us at Kairos. Last year included quite a bit of change which helped us prepare for where we are today. Seeing as change is one of the core services we provide, it was quite fascinating to watch how we reacted to the changes we went through. Helping organizations respond, adjust & thrive in change is something we do all the time, so you’d assume it would be easier for us, right?
I’m pretty sure I was awake for almost every hour of the first 6 weeks of our oldest daughter’s life. As a brand new parent entering the uncertain and sleep-deprived world of caring for a newborn, I still recall the distinct and visceral feeling of what we call the Neutral Zone. This change plunged us into a transition – the ending of one stage of life and the beginning of another. In between the Ending and the Beginning is the Neutral Zone: a place where one is not quite acclimated and thriving in the new normal and is definitely no longer in the role of the past. Honestly, the Neutral Zone can really stink. But it doesn’t have to.
I had a lot invested emotionally in the name Catalyst OC. The name of the company I founded had become part of my identity over the past 9 years. Even though I am now excited about being Kairos, a few months ago I wasn’t. Initially I rejected the name Kairos. In fact, I rejected the idea of changing the name at all.