You Tell Me

I recently heard some colleagues taking about a potential new hire they had just interviewed.  During the conversation, one of the team members turned to their supervisor and asked, “So, are you going to hire this person?”  To which the supervisor replied, “You tell me.”

From a leadership standpoint, I loved this supervisor’s response.  In those 3 short words they conveyed to their team that:

  • This was a decision the team would make, not just the leader.
  • They valued the team’s input.
  • They trusted the team to know best whether someone would be a good fit.

As leaders, it’s important to seek input from those we lead when their insights can aid in the decision making process.  When we do, we not only help our organization make better decisions, we also increase the likelihood that those involved in the decision making process will buy in to the decision as well.

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Different Perspectives

It’s easy to put a plan together when you’re the only person creating the plan.  As soon as you get another person involved in the planning, it gets even more difficult, because the other person has their own thoughts and beliefs about how the plan should look.  And you can be assured that their plan is not 100% like yours.

The larger the group, the more challenging it becomes to reach agreement because there are so many different ideas, beliefs, and perspectives that are shaping each person’s idea of what an ideal plan or strategy should look like.  This gives me an appreciation for the work required of a large group to come to an agreement.  And by “large group”, I’m referring to any group with greater than 1 person.

Being aware of differing ideas, beliefs, and perspectives in a team environment reminds me that just because someone has a different idea or plans than I do, doesn’t mean that they’re against my plan or ideas, or that they “just don’t get it”.  Rather, it reminds me that they likely have a perspective that I don’t or a belief that I don’t hold.  Whatever the case, they are bringing a proposal that aligns with how they see the problem, and also how they believe it should be solved.  And that’s good, because without their input, I would not have considered their perspective.

The next time you’re in a group of people that are trying to create a plan or make a decision, resist the urge to become frustrated when people don’t come to the same conclusions that you do.  Instead, see it as an opportunity to understand how another group or person might view the situation.  Who knows, you might even have your own perspective changed.

Becoming More Mature

“Maturity does not always come with age.  Sometimes age comes alone.”

~ John C. Maxwell

We often think of maturity as the natural byproduct of getting older; as something that just happens on a parallel track with our age.  However, there is a big difference:  maturity comes from being intentional, while age is automatic.

Becoming more mature is something we can do at any age.  For example, we can:

  • Be aware of how our actions impact others, as well as how they impact us.
  • Evaluate our different life experiences (learning what has worked for us and what hasn’t) and apply what we’ve learned.
  • Fill our minds with positive content that will help us become the type of person we want to be.
  • Extend gratitude, compassion, and grace to those around us.

While this isn’t an exhaustive list on how to become more mature, it’s a good starting point.

Maturity doesn’t just happen.  We’re fortunate that becoming more mature is a choice we can all make for ourselves.

Let’s choose wisely.

Cursed With Knowledge

We all possess knowledge that we’ve had for so long it seems like second nature.  As a result, it’s easy to assume that what is common knowledge to us is the same of everyone else.  There’s a name for this mindset.  It’s called being cursed with knowledge.

While it’s good to possess extensive knowledge of a topic, the challenge comes when we attempt to explain or teach that topic to someone who doesn’t have the same level of knowledge.  What is elementary information to us is newfound, and potentially confusing, information to someone just hearing it for the first time.

If we’re cursed with knowledge, we can easily find ourselves brushing over basic foundational information because we assume everyone “just knows this stuff”.  This causes frustration for the learner who can’t grasp the basic concepts (because they’re not hearing the basic concepts!).  It’s also frustrating for the instructor who wonders why they just aren’t getting it.

Unfortunately, I’ve been on both sides of this scenario.  As a learner I find it helps to ask a lot of questions and not worry about looking ignorant.  (If we’re learning something new then, by definition, we are ignorant; but we won’t stay there.)  As an instructor, I’m working to be more aware of the curse of knowledge when explaining concepts to others so that I’m not needlessly frustrations someone’s efforts to learn.

It all comes down to knowing your audience.  Seek to communicate with people at a level they can understand.  Your audience will thank you.

Moving Past Fear

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”     ~ Theodore Roosevelt

It’s easy to read Roosevelt’s words and think “to dare mighty things” is referring only to monumental undertakings.  I think this quote also speaks of living a life with willingness to step out of our comfort zones and try new things, even with the possibility of failure.

Here’s a nugget of truth that is applicable for all of us:  we are going to fail.  At some point, we’re going to fall short, do the wrong thing, say the wrong thing, or lack the skills, experience, or wisdom needed to succeed.  There’s no escaping it.  It’s part of the human condition.  But failing does not mean we are failures.

I find that liberating!

President Roosevelt’s words remind us that successes, victories, and triumphs often come through our failures.  Being willing to move ahead, even after failure, is how great things are achieved, and how a fulfilling life is lived.  On the contrary, playing it safe, in order to avoid failure, does not lead to success. Rather, it leads to regret and a life that knows neither victory nor defeat.

Where are you holding back because of a fear of failure?  What step can you take today to break through the fear that is holding you back?  Take that step, without being concerned about failing but rather be focused on giving your best effort.

Who knows, you might be wildly successful.