Posts tagged Leadership
Going first

If the choice is clear, if the best is obvious, if the food is hot then, certainly, allowing others to go first is a generous decision.

If it's scary,
If it's unproven,
If it asks for vulnerability,
If it takes humility,
If it requires integrity,
If the outcome isn't certain,
If the way forward is unclear,

What a generous time to go first.

Leadership is about seeking out the opportunities to go first generously.

Rules, safety, and taking the leap

Rules are good at keeping us safe. It’s a foundational part of what they’re made for. And that’s a very good thing.

Safety, though, isn’t always the answer. Sometimes leaping is.

Rules are generally less good at encouraging us to leap.

So here’s the question — what’s the rule for? And what’s beyond it? Even if it’s a little scary, could the possibility be worth the leap?

We have to start by curiously imagining what might be past our rule.

Photo by Denny Luan on Unsplash
The journey is the reward

Adam Ondra — the current undisputed top rock climber on the planet — has a climbing philosophy that he’s become famous for. It goes something like this: it’s not the beauty of the route that matters most, it’s the beauty of the movements.

There is such a thing as a result that, on its own, appears altogether unimpressive and yet the path to get there could have been utterly remarkable. As marketers, saleswomen, managers, creators, and leaders the experience we create for our customers and people matters just as much as the results we achieve.

Adam Ondra might argue it matters more.

Raising the tide

How might we help others grow with us as we grow?”

This is what leaders do, isn’t it? They seek growth and ways to invite others into that with them, they share the wealth. How can we share the wealth? I’m sure there’s lots of ways, but one way in particular is that whenever we learn something, we find someone else to share it with.

In that spirit, here’s some things that I’ve learned:

Everything matters; we are always becoming who we will become.

It’s better to be running towards something than away from something.

Beautiful things don’t ask for attention.

Doing the right thing is always worth it.

Knowing who you are is nice, knowing who you want to be is better.

Our lives follow our affections.

We always have a choice.

Choosing not to decide is still a decision.

Love is stronger than hate (and apathy).

What have you learned that has made a difference for you that might make a difference for someone else?


We would be able to avoid an incredible amount of highway accidents — and maybe some of that gridlock too — if we were all willing to follow some simple principles in our driving:

Hold space for others.

Avoid split-second decisions and reactions, when possible.

Take only what you need (not everything you can).

Be generous when you can.

Progress more often happens through consistency than sporadic highs and lows.

Yep, I absolutely wrote this because I’d love a smoother morning commute. Guilty :) But these ideas get even more interesting to me when we start thinking about the other place in life where we experience high traffic density — the internet.

When I think about it in those terms, it all becomes so clear — we’re actually in this together. On the highway. On the internet. In life. A rising tide lifts all ships. How can we be the kind of people that lift the tide?

It's easy to be against things

But what are we for?

Take a second to think about that today. Come to some decisions that you’re willing to stand behind — with conviction and pride as well as curiosity and empathy.

Yes, of course, to be for something we by definition are most times against something else. But if we’re debating that then we’ve already missed the point. It’s not about logic, it’s about focus. Where do we focus our time, energy, research, intention, generosity, and care?

Is it towards the things that we’re against, or the things that we’re for? Only one actually helps the world become a better place.

The things that aren't said

As humans in the 21st Century, we have become masters at hiding in plain sight. The existence of the internet, more social media platforms than we can count, and endless amounts of data about each one of us, we have — as a survival instinct — learned the art of personal branding. And so we carefully craft public personas for ourselves that often reveal everything that we’re really proud of, and nothing that we’re not.

Much smarter people than I have written about the harm we unwittingly do to ourselves when we live this way.

Just as important though — the harm those we care about may unwittingly be doing to themselves. If the temptation exists for us to hide from the world, our world, the things we’re not proud of, then it probably exists for others. And probably much closer to home than we want to accept.

So what can we do?

Look for the hiding. We’ve been trained to mask our fears behind veiled hints and cryptic phrases, so as to look stoic and strong to a random passer-by. These things matter to us though, we actually want to get them out of us, we’re merely afraid. We could use some help. Repeated thoughts or words, personality tics, passionate opinions/reactions, they can all be signs of something bigger going on inside of us that wants us.

We can look for this in those we care for. Take the time to see them, listen, and press in with curiosity to the places that seem like they matter. They probably do. If we can create a safe place for others to be vulnerable, we can then begin to find a new place to stand with them as a different way forward.

Go first. We can make a difference for others by choosing to do the courageous work of modeling what healthy looks like. Rather than stuffing our guilt, shame, and fears deeps inside of us, share them with those we care about and trust. Reframe for them the belief that doing so is weak; it’s actually strong. In doing so, we take a step towards creating a safe environment for us to do it again, and for them to do the same.

It’s hard, it’s risky, and often, it’s terrifying. It’s also an incredibly generous gift to give both ourselves and others.

We might find that the things that aren’t often said are the exact things that make all the difference.

Let's try something together

What if we told three people in our lives today one way that they’ve changed us, that we’re grateful for them, that they made a difference for us?

What would that mean to them, for them?

How far could that go?

What if we did it again tomorrow? How far could that spread?

We, myself included, often say that we want to make the world a better place. Well here’s our chance to put our money where our mouth is. It’s not that hard to believe that if even a small group of us rallied around this idea, our world’s would be a little bit better.

What do you say?

Passive compromise a lose, lose proposition.

We lose in the short term because we can’t have what we really wanted. So we consider compromise and settle for a lesser or partial version of what we wanted.

And long term — we’ve just given ourselves an out. Here’s a quote I came across recently…

“Those with ‘something to fall back on’ invariably fall back on it. They intended to all along. That is why they provide themselves with it. But those with no alternative see the world differently.” -(David Mamet)

When it becomes too hard, or too much work, or too risky to accomplish our goals — we’ve now learned how to compromise and “fall back on” the comfort and safety of a lesser version. And we will fall back on it.

If it’s worth making into a goal, why would it be worth compromising?

If you’re anything like me, one possible rebuttal to this question is talking ourself into believing, “It’s the only way.”

The truth is though, we always have a choice.

Our rejection of that truth reveals a fear within us. Namely, the fear of freedom. Freedom feels scary because freedom means we’re responsible. If things go wrong, it’s our fault.

The thing is, we’re to blame either way — when we choose AND when we don’t. To not choose is to assuredly suffer; to choose is to adventure into the unknown.

Seems much better, then, to own our choice. It may not feel good today. Or tomorrow. But at least it’s ours. Narrating our own story starts with embracing the opportunity of Freedom right in front of us.