Never was I struck by the obstacle of ego more than with a recent group I was coaching. Some members were so mired down by the need to hold onto control that they failed to look beyond what they already knew. In so doing, they fought for being “right” and missed key opportunities to propel themselves to the richer, fuller lives they claimed to want.
The one key thing that all leaders need to get out of their way is… themselves. That’s it. That’s so simple, right? If you want to grow, then you’re growing into something that you’re not already. To do that, you have to do something (or think something) that you haven’t already. So what needs to get out of your way? You.
Leaders learn. They lean in and are aggressively hungry for new knowledge, new experiences, and new applications of what they're taking in. Real leaders aren’t spectators, vaguely curious about how something might turn out. Most of you know that I’m a fan of Curious George. He’s really my muse as (true confessions time) I carry a little stuffed monkey with me wherever I go! Yes, it’s true! He keeps me smiling and always acts as a reminder to stay curious. And beyond curious, I’m hungry for more. I want to learn more, to drive more, and to engage more.
To do that, I have to get out of my way. I have to acknowledge that what I know is pretty darn good and, to get better, I need to keep learning. And so do you. When you stop learning, you’ve started dying. You’ve started playing it safe and you’ve begun to give up. You might have gotten tired. You might have decided that you’re “fine” just the way you are. Things might not be fully comfortable, but they’re tolerable.
But that’s not you. You don’t come here to give up. You come here because you know there’s more IN you that has to come out. There’s greatness that needs to be shown to others because your unique gifts cannot selfishly be shut in. To get them out differently, you have to learn more. To learn more, you have to get out of your own way. You have to recognize that there is a perspective that you don’t have right now, whether that comes from someone else (a trusted coach or advisor) or from inside yourself by looking at your situation differently. And, you have to be willing to take action on what you are learning.
As your coach and advisor, I’ve got a really GREAT exercise for you.
Really… try this now!
What situation are you struggling with right now? It could be sales. It could be leadership. It could be a personal relationship. Think about your current struggle right now….
Really…. Don’t just keep reading till you think of one.
Okay… ready? Use your journal or, now out loud, explain your situation to a four year old. You’ve got to get through to that four year old so they understand what you’re dealing with and “it’s complicated” doesn’t cut it.
Try it. Really. Try it!
Want to go deeper? Explain your situation to an adult as if YOU are four years old.
This is a tough one because a four-year-old wants to be understood, but doesn’t have the capacity that adults have.
Try this – on paper or out loud – try this!!!
Want to have some fun? Try this at your next senior staff meeting. Pair up and take turns explaining your issues to a partner as if he/she were four years old. Then trade off. Then, take turns explaining your issues AS IF you were four years old. Work at getting all of the points across.
And what you earn from participating in this awkwardly odd exercise is perspective. Just one new shift in the way to look at your own situation, that is, simply shifting perspective allows you to get out of your own way and to really learn from a different vantage point.
This is only one exercise and this can be pretty potent if you practice it. There are plenty others and to learn more, I’d invite you to click this link to look around at the DynamicLeader website.
To your success and Significance!
~ Dr Wayne Pernell ~