New leaders, in my day, were given 3 pieces of advice. These words were to guide us throughout our business careers. These words could also be a gauntlet for any leader. They have been known to demolish the morale in an organization and destroy someone’s reputation and career. We were told to never get involved in conversations regarding sex, politics and religion.
A new leader had many areas to grow and we did not need to be distracted by these very volatile topics. We can debate the relevance of this advice today, but I would like address one of the topics in a positive way. We frequently hear about the desire for employees want to bring their entire selves to work. We cannot deny that spirituality is important for many people.
Spirituality is a key part of our makeup that defines who we are. Organizations may not discuss religion in the workplace, however many of them will provide space for people to reflect, study and pray at work. Organizations should be sensitive and aware enough to encourage religious expression, outside of proselytizing (recruiting) and making others uncomfortable.
Spiritual Leadership in our 31 Day leadership gauntlet refers to the way our spirituality influences our decisions and our interaction with others. It also covers how we express personal values that align with corporate values. Creating a climate where morality, respect, responsibility, integrity, caring and forgiveness are practiced, is essential for a respectful workplace.
Developing new skills requires a change management mentality. New skills must be practiced and reinforced over time, with continuous application. The more powerful and experiential the training with total immersion in the new skills, will result in new behaviors that are sustainable.
However, you must deal with inertia, which is resistance to change. Secondly you must contend with the temptation to resort to previous behaviors in the face of difficulty. Observation and experience reveal that in a crisis, if the new skills are not firmly embedded in the subconscious, we revert to previous behavior. We retreat to what is known, comfortable and firmly established. We may discard the new information, new practices for the comfortable behaviors of the past.
If change is not fully incorporated into your rote memory or natural rhythms, you may easily relapse. Therefore, it is important to have powerful implementation procedures that are rapidly reinforced repetition to replace the memorized subconscious behaviors.
Additionally, you must firmly believe in your people and adhere to your leadership pledge to their success. In the heat of battle, turmoil or a crisis, remember that your long-term effectiveness as a leader may hinge upon the following. Your ability to be steady, call while refusing to relapse and abandoning new programs and practices for the old way of doing things.
We appreciate those who perform for us, especially actors and actresses. In a world where authenticity and transparency are encouraged, we honor those, who make a living, assuming another identity and playing different roles. William Shakespeare wrote, in the play As you like it,
“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,”
There are instances, where we assume certain traits and behaviors that initially feel awkward. They are not a natural part of who we are. We may be in the early stages of development. Therefore, we must fake it until we make it or act as if we have the skills, until they become a part of us.
When someone consistently plays a role, we can anticipate their actions and this predictability draws us into their character. This reminds me of us. We are vulnerable and share our personalities, so others can anticipate our actions. This predictability builds comfort, awareness and trust.
I was a part of a drama team at church, where we were trained by degreed professionals and practitioners, in the art of the theater. My manager questioned my hobby. I remember thinking, “you are asking me to act day at work, and least I can get some training to do it better.”
We are asked to act and play a role or different roles every day. We should at least play them with authenticity and transparency, until they are natural, realistic and believable.
In our role as leaders, there instances where we must act as a leader, until we put on the full mantle of the mindset and the role.
Survival is our strongest need, according to many philosophers. Abraham Maslow lists it among our basic needs, which we must fulfill before we move on to satisfying other needs on our list of priorities. Survival is dependent upon making the necessary adjustments to changes in our environment. We must include these adjustments, as a part of our evolving skills.
The quality of survival is linked to our adaptation ability, therefore our success in making adjustment to competitors in the marketplace or whatever environment surrounds us. Our objective is to aim higher , rather than barely making it. We do not want to do just enough to get by. We want to thrive and prosper. A standard of living above the baseline of existence is a desirable goal. But to achieve this enhanced quality of life, we must make continuous adjustments to our behavior.
The poem Adaptation addresses the adjustments we need to make educationally, relationally and professionally to improve our prospects for higher earning power and fulfillment of purpose. Charles Darwin wrote about the survival of the fittest and that holds true in the development of species and in developing a personal profile competitive enough to make it in the business world. Adaptation encourages the survival of the fit; those who take the time and make the effort to anticipate challenges and respond to change. Only progress is satisfactory. Movement is essential to momentum.
If someone has not seen you in several years, what change would they notice?
How has your business environment changed?
What adjustments have you made or must make to keep up with new demands in your profession?
How have you adapted to the technological demands of your profession?
How do you stay on top of matters that require your attention?
Alvin Toffler mentioned that technology has accelerated in this world of high tech, but we have not changed that much socially, in something he calls high touch. How are you socially keeping up with the times?
How are you adapting to find time for the ones you love?
The opening quote in my book the Isle of knowledge states that “I feel pressure from my purpose to align my passion with my potential.” This sentence illustrates my internal struggle to find my purpose and ensure that it is connected to my passion, so that I realize my potential, and my desire to make a difference in the world.
What is your purpose? We wrestle with the realization that we are blessed and may have talent and opportunity that is not fully utilized. We tend to go with the crowd as it relates to our careers or to align ourselves with what is popular or the most financially rewarding. Information came out recently about the top 10 jobs for the future, which indicated technology was the dominant career choice. Are you a technologically driven person? How do you align technology with your purpose?
You may be in a job that is not rewarding or fulfilling, but it is a job that pays the bills. When you determine your purpose, can you provide space to pursue it and keep your day job? Pursuing your purpose may require you to develop a ‘HIT’ list (Hobbies, Interests, Talents). This may provide the vehicle for you to address and fulfill your purpose.
Your purpose can sometimes be recognized in the things they give you the most excitement or feeling of value. Oftentimes, purpose is not about you, but what you can do for others. Through purpose you may find your significance. During your leadership gauntlet you may encounter a variety of distractions that derail you from finding and fulfilling your purpose. But you may find that within your purpose is God’s plan for your life.
Imagine cruising along in your current reality knowing that life is good or at least predictable. You have become complacent. Life appears to be working well for you. The challenges are manageable and under control. You reside in a comfort zone because difficulties and hardships do not exceed your ability to handle them. And you are not worried about the future for it promises more of the same.
Inertia, that natural resistance to change is keeping the necessary objects of your world in orbit. The results are predictable, as you act consistently to match your values and beliefs. It is fortunate to be insulated, protected and feeling no pain.
Eventually, you might become frustrated with the status quo. You are surrounded by sameness and mediocrity in a mundane and environment. You may want a fresh perspective, adventure and excitement. You may want a breakthrough before life/work breaks you.
Your current state, sometimes referred to as normal, “the way it is”, “business as usual,” and the status quo will remain stationary until something bad happens to negatively rock your world. Sir Isaac Newton said that an object at rest will stay at rest and an object in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. When the outside force strikes it may throw you headlong into a crisis. Therefore, it is wise to land a breakthrough before it becomes mandatory or too late.
Theodore Levitt, the esteemed marketing guru, spoke of planned obsolescence. He said if you don’t make your product or service obsolete, somebody else will. To paraphrase, if you don’t plan to achieve a breakthrough, someone else may achieve a breakthrough that puts you out of business or leaves you behind the competition. Today is the day you began to make steps toward your breakthrough. If you look within the word, you may find that the word “rough” which may be an accurate depiction of the journey, but it will be worth the effort.
One challenge on your Leadership Gauntlet will affect you personally, as well as those whom you serve. They are time wasters.
Time is a treasure and a resource. There are 24 hours in each day and 168 hours in a week. How you use the time given to you is your choice. How you manage your time will contribute or take away from your ability to be successful. We are individuals who craft time to our benefit or detriment. We are time crafters and consumers of time consumers. We vary in the total distribution of this amazing gift over our lifetime, but each day, our allotment is the same.
The way we manage time can influence the amount we have, but there are factors that are beyond our control. However, if you take a class in time management, they will discuss time wasters. These are elements that absorb the time you have for meaningful activities and shift them to meaningless tasks. Time wasters are as empty calories. You consume them, but they have no intrinsic value. They are people or activities that distract you from doing something that has a higher priority. A time waster for one person may not be for another. They can be individualized.
Identify the time wasters in your life; the things that divert or take your time from more import tasks and minimize and eliminate them. Alan Larkin, the noted Time Management expert says the following about time. “Time is life. It is both irreversible and irreplaceable, to waste your time is to waste your life, but to master time is to master your life and to then make the most of it.”