We have written over the past three or four weeks about coaching and leadership. Perhaps it is time to reflect a bit on this.
It all starts with each of us wanting to do a good job. That comes from active and passive participation in the work that we do and the life that we live. Perhaps the work portion of our lives is the easier one. The life we live can be either very challenging or you become a victim of circumstances and you let those circumstances dominate your life. In other words, you give up on yourself. That goes to the Nike tag line “Just Do It.” Jimmy Valvano, when he was in the latter stages of his fight with cancer, gives us a better approach. “Never Give Up.” No matter what you face you can overcome it if you give it a good and honest fight. Learn more, train more, practice more, listen more, dream more, care more.
Eleanor Roosevelt is famous for her quote of “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” It always intrigues me as to why some people let that happen to them. Why is that?
Curiosity is another attribute that I believe is critical to our beings. We can learn through asking “why,” and children spend more than a year of their early lives doing nothing but ask that question. Quoting Ted Kennedy at the funeral of his brother Robert, “Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.” This is something I believe we should take more to heart. Why do we do what we do? Why do we do things this way? How long have we done things this way? I came to an epiphany when I started studying change in a serious way. We are taught to resist change in every manner possible. From how we are parented with specific rules – don’t do that – to our schooling – this is how you do that – to our jobs – how we are taught to do our jobs. All of those lead us to be somewhat resistant to or suspicious of change. Japanese culture introduced me to Kaizen. Change everything you do, make it better or easier or more efficient, every day, if even just a tiny bit. That to me is a more reasonable approach to life.
Another aspect of leadership and coaching is that we must create followers before anything else will happen. That seems to be quite obvious but many of us fail at this when we start issuing mandates and “orders.” How many people will follow you because they want to if you are all about giving orders? Simon Sinek in his book “Leaders Eat Last” uses in the foreword a Lt General from the Marine Corps who describes meal time in the Marines. The enlisted men and served first and they eat first. Keep them happy and healthy and things will be alright.
I have a reading list on my consulting web site, www.rjslee.com, I call it the reading list for interested people. There are many wonderful books with incredibly meaningful suggestions and ideas to think about. Patrick Lenioni comes to mind with his books – The Three Signs of a Miserable Job and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Easy to read parables with incredibly helpful advice. There are many more books there to enjoy and learn from for interested people. There are also over twenty years of monthly columns, from Industry publications, on the parts and service and product support sales and marketing subjects.
However, in each of my classroom sessions I always ask how many have read a business book that will help them with their jobs. In the last month or quarter. Sadly, not many hands go up.
Another thing that I like to do at each class is to ask some questions. That is the Socratic method to teaching.
What is the definition of Ignorance?
What is the definition of Stupidity?
What is the definition of Insanity?
This causes some difficulty for the room. Ignorance is not knowing what to do. Stupidity is knowing what to do and not doing it. Insanity is continuing to do with you have always done expecting different results. I then tell them that at the end of the class they will no long be ignorant because they will know what to do. I leave them with the last two choices – Stupidity or Insanity. No one in the room is insane so in truth I am challenging them to take advantage of what they have learned and do something with it. If they don’t, well, that is plain stupid, isn’t it?
The Time is NOW.