How do we make sense of these turbulent times we find ourselves in? We read. We talk. We take action. We withdrawal. We grasp for some bit of information or some kind of traction that will give us a sense of control. The news offers little beyond death counts and closures. Most conversations just end up comparing notes on our shared uncertainty.
When I led the tune-up of a company’s volunteering program a few years ago, I ran myself into a brick wall. Luckily, the project itself was successful. We saw over 70 percent employee engagement in the company’s program; but my leadership wasn’t sustainable.
I’ve been investing a lot of time and energy on personal growth. It’s hard work. It’s revealed some tough, ugly truths. One of those truths is that I don’t like to spend a lot of time thinking and planning. I like to get stuff done. Thinking and planning feels like a waste of time. The problem is that I struggle with developing long-term strategies. Because I don’t make the time to reflect, I run the risk of focusing on the wrong things. I’m starting to see this character trait, both in myself and in some of the leaders I come in contact with.
My 13-year-old son Kael was babysitting my 10-year-old son Zeff last week. Upon my return from an appointment, I asked Kael how it went. “Zeff was pretty good, but he disobeyed me.”
Lately I’ve had three experiences that have led me to the same conclusion: it’s time to step up my game as a leader…
I looked back to the other side of the crosswalk I’d just rushed through. The rest of our group was still on the other side. Their faces reflected annoyance, impatience, and disappointment. I knew I had been pushing it to rush across the wide South Chicago intersection, and I thought others would be willing to do the same. I was a college sophomore in an urban immersion experience. In that intersection, I experienced a defining leadership moment.