Leadership with heart, mind, and soul

#006: For the First Time

Added on by Sam Davidson.

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

As leaders, the temptation creeps in to just do the things we’re good at, which often means doing things we’ve already done before. This is important, certainly, but do it too much and you’ll stagnate and plateau. Eventually, then, your leadership will stop.

As a leader, you must find time to do something new, even if it feels awkward, unsafe, or odd. You need to be in a place of learning and trying. Otherwise, you’ll never again be in a place of growth.

And a leader who isn’t growing isn’t one worth following.

Take up a new skill. Try learning a new language. Manage your people with a new mindset. Read a new book. Pick up a brand new hobby. Dare to improve your performance in a critical area by flexing a new mental muscle.

Do something for the first time. You’ll feel dumb. But that’s the only way to get to a place of mastery and intelligence.

(I was inspired to write this after reading this article on LinkedIn.)

#003: Ask a Delicious Question

Added on by Sam Davidson.

I don't believe that leaders are those who have all the answers. In fact, I firmly believe that leaders are those capable of asking what I call "delicious" questions.

No one has ever said that a fast-food burger is delicious. Prepared hastily and affordably, it's chief aim is efficiency, not nutrition. 

Contrast that with what your grandma makes at Thanksgiving. Or the home-cooked meal your partner prepares nearly every night, crafted from a recipe book kept in an old hutch. Those meals are delicious because they took time and care to prepare. You'll enjoy them slowly at your dinner table.

Those meals are events, and they are delicious because of it.

And so it should be with the questions you ask as a leader. Challenge your team (and yourself) with questions that can't be answered instantly, with puzzles that take time, energy, patience, research, and ambition. Those questions can be daunting and big and scary, but they are the only ones you'll truly enjoy and the very ones your team needs most for growth and development.

Ask questions that require time and focus and you'll find answers that result in meaning and connection. 

#002: Tear it Down to Build it Bigger

Added on by Sam Davidson.

My daughter and I were doing the hard work of Lego engineering last Friday night (yes, times are wild over here). She wanted to build a store she had already diagrammed on paper, complete with checkout lanes and cash registers.

There was a slight problem: we ran out of blocks.

Our only option was to dismantle the small hut we'd built a few weeks ago. We needed it for parts.

As I dismantled the structure, we then were left in an in-between place, where nothing was built and destruction was all around us. We now had no complete buildings, but just a heap of Legos at our ankles. But that was the price we had to pay, the premium charged on building something bigger and better than we thought possible.

Leaders face the same choices. We see where it is our companies or nonprofits can go, but sometimes, the only way to cross that threshold is to take apart something that seems to be working quite fine, to pick apart the status quo in view of some great big ambition. 

The work of a leader, then, is two fold:

  1. to paint a vision large enough that people are willing to sacrifice what's comfortable for the sake of what's meaningful, and
  2. to start dismantling with care and sensitivity so all the pieces stay in tact for what your team is building next.

The foundations of great big dreams are usually laid in the rubble of good small ones.