Long ago I discovered the power of the language…within it lies the ability to conjure up vivid visions to hide from reality or in fact create new realities. As a learning professional words are a medium with which to connect with the learner – a way in which to make a point or learning element land. As a leader language gives us the ability to inspire and set direction.
As a blogger language and words take on a whole new meaning. Writing is a way to articulate, organize and examine thoughts with a beginners mind. It is a way to explore more deeply something that caught my eye – in many ways it’s a way to indulge the “ooohhh shiny thing” moment. Writing allows me to learn from that. Why did it catch my eye? What is important here? What can I learn from this? At its core it’s a chance to reflect and as leaders that is a “luxury” that many of us put aside in order to focus on the here and now.
And that’s what I have been doing for the last six months. Focussing on the here and now of a new role, fully engaging in real-time learning and fully immersing myself…well, in the here and now. And not coincidentally I have stopped writing. I have very rapidly allowed myself to be caught in the daily demands of my role and in doing so have set aside the very thing that allows me to bring the best “me” to the table. Reflection.
The result? Well I am in demand. I am sought after for my expertise, my time, my opinion and my support. I am adding value. I am drowning. In my desire to prove value I have stopped adding the value that my organization most needs…that is, to bring to the table an enquiring mind that looks at how we can shift…to do things differently so that we can continue to grow in service of our clients and our employees. I have stopped reflecting and allowed “doing” or “busy-ness” to drive my day, mornings, evenings…waking thoughts, night-time insomnia thoughts… I have, through no body’s fault but my own, stepped into the pervading culture that is my organization.
The step into that culture was an easy one for me and in many ways very comfortable. It is important to me to add value…but I am starting to learn that I am seeking to prove value. It is not something I naturally accept as bringing to the table. I want to make a difference and in doing so don’t effectively set boundaries that would allow me to make a more significant impact. I do not say NO easily because I see the possibilities. I get excited about the potential and forget that implementation may be a more arduous task. I stretch thin. I flex into my personal time to ease the tension. I start to blur the lines between me and work and family. I lose sight of me. I do it easily. I am starting to learn that this behaviour is not new.
Thanks to my current love affair with all things executive coaching (and you will soon see a shift in Courageous Learning as a result) I am asking myself a few powerful questions…
1. what type of leader do you want to be?
2. what would be different if you focussed more on reflecting first?
3. how would your team, manager, organization benefit if you focussed on “you” before you focussed on “do”
4. how might your life look if you defined who you “want to be” and then worked towards that end?
As a leader I have the choice to continue on the current path where things will get done and it will be good or I could define what great looks like and then go after it with a single mindedness that will allow for a significant shift for me personally and through that my family, my team and my organization. As I type the words I can feel the excitement and the energy that the mere concept ignites in me.
Imagine what it would be like if all leaders bring to their workplace a passion and a vision that radiates and inspires great things. This passion and vision starts from a place of “me first”.
Over the coming weeks and months I will share some of my thoughts and learnings as a result of my journey to “be” an executive coach…an exercise that started as a functional exploration on behalf of my organization and one that has now shifted into a rich and life altering “me first” journey that will reap benefits we did not imagine when we set down this path.
I invite you to take this journey with me. As leaders we have the opportunity to make an incredible difference to the people around us… how will you shift your paradigms to allow for that impact to be meaningful and rewarding for all, including yourself?