There are many things we can learn from kids. There are many things we can learn as parents and implement to our leadership toolset. And finally, there are many things we learn as leaders and can and should apply to our parenting skills. One common theme is the language that we use. There are many situations and aspects that use of language matters. In this coffee journey, I am going to focus on one. We learned it during our last year trip to Zurich Zoo. I propose a leadership lesson from a visit to the Zoo. Wait. What?!?
I am going to take you to the series of blog posts about the son and dad journey from last year. We went on a week-long trip to the Alps. We wanted to take it easy, slow and sometimes not optimal. Contrary to busy networks or the fastest possible commute route of the usual day. This is the beauty of vacation. We don’t need to rush, we don’t need to be the most optimal, the most productive. This principle has led us to see one of the most beautiful, and sometimes hidden, spots during our journey. Let’s start, I hope you will find it enjoyable.
You decided to step into the people leader role. There is a good chance, however, you still have been helping your team with daily operations. At some point, you noticed that to accomplish all things that are on your plate, your day would need to have 26 hours. You may even look to time management technics, just to find out that you cannot manage time. You can only control you in time. Maybe it is a good moment to shift the focus? It is time to let the team run with daily operations and start to learn a new role. But how to start your professional development as a leader?
Very first thing you will notice as a new manager will be that you run out of time in a day. If you search interwebs for a term “time management”, you will quickly find thousands of tips on how to help you to manage your time more effectively. They are all wrong. You can’t manage time. It’s all about you, your choices, and how you can manage you in time. Time management is a myth.
Being busy is a choice. I think that busy is a decision. We do the things we want to do, period. If we say we are too busy, it is shorthand for “not important enough.”Debbie Millman
Simply put: you don’t find the time to do something; you make the time to do things.
Here you are, thinking to step up and apply for a new role. You want to lead people. Maybe you’re already a natural leader. You discovered the power of synergy, you found that helping others to achieve bigger goals is so satisfying. You are ready. It is excellent and probably every industry our there is in need for good people leaders. In the end, it is the same experience as parents have when they help their kids to grow: unparalleled satisfaction, sense of accomplishment and legacy that every one of us wants to leave behind ourselves. Similarly to parenting, becoming a manager comes with a full package. Some things are not so glamorous, will make you occasionally frustrated and will test your decision of becoming the people leader almost every day.
Do you know what the opposite of love is? Most people’s answer would be “hate” or “dislike”. The truth, however, is that the opposite of love is fear. If we fear someone, we will not be able to love this person. If we are afraid of something, it will consume all our energy and drain our thoughts towards the subject of our fears. In extreme cases, it will prevent us from thinking about anything else. It will paralyse our ability to move forward, loving other people or, in severe cases, live our lives to the full. Can we learn how to conquer our fears?
My younger daughter, who was “just” born, will start school this calendar year. I’ve been recently pondering on the fact that our kids grow fast. They don’t only grow but also learn a lot. However, we – parents – also grow with them. Every member of the family, despite the age, level of growth and development, they always give something to others. What parents and leaders can learn from children?
Some projects go pretty smooth. We see progress and reaching a goal is just a matter of well define time. Some plans are being dragged for months or even years. We don’t know where this thing is going, and what’s more, why we even bothered to start it. Usually, it is not because of the complexity, lack of resources or time. In these cases, we should look closer to the people who plan them and perform the execution of tasks. A few years back, I did an annual review and planning for the first time. I wanted to buy bicycles for my family. Easy? Well, It took me almost two years. Sip your coffee while I am going to share what happened.
Natalie was in a fantastic mood. She woke up early morning and was doing her stretch routine. She ate a small breakfast and drove to the registration point. It was her dream. She had been preparing for this competition for a long time. She dreamed to be a professional rock climber. And here she was. She completed all admin routine and stood in front of the high hill where competition took place. Next, she went through her checklist for the last time, breathed deeply fresh air and started climbing. She didn’t know, she wasn’t going to finish this wall and in fact she would need to stop her career as a professional climber.
It was 2010. I was sitting in a quiet coffee shop in the main square in Gdańsk. The main purpose of the visit was to attend a workshop about how to be an effective leader in local communities. I was sipping coffee and reviewing my notes. At the time, almost everything was a revelation to me, especially the part on being heroic leader:
- be a protagonist – a person who creates reality
- it is so easy to be an antagonist
- a person who is in the best scenario – a passive observer of life,
- in the worst-case scenario – actively disturbing actions of the protagonist
- be a leader – everyone can be a leader – even on a very small area of influence
- do not wait for golden opportunity that are given you on a silver plate – make sure you extract the gold from casual situations
- read more on “Heroic Leadership” by Chris Lowney.
I was just holding the recommended book and reading the first chapter. The book that changed my approach to many things. It also shaped my choices in my life, in both: professional and private domains.