On Saturday, we continued to prepare for our move. In a post entitled De-clutter Your Leadership, I wrote about some of the items we might want to rid ourselves of in order to lead more effectively. Today, our moving saga continues…
I knew I needed to work in our basement. Although portions of it were presentable, others contained pockets of chaos. I understood instinctively - many of the contents needed to go before I could restore order to this part of our world.
In the rubble I found…
- Old paint cans – a lot of them
- Numerous pieces of electronic equipment, including a VHS recorder from the 80s
- The football helmet I wore in the 8th grade
- A broken lamp
- Extra door knobs for the closet (you never know when you’ll need these)
- My wife’s first bicycle
- What appeared to be all the baseball gloves I’d used throughout my entire life
- And much, much more!
In the midst of this cleanup project, I thought again about my leadership. I know I accumulate practices and activities I shouldn’t – they’re what I wrote about in the de-clutter post. While I drove to the dump, I began to think about “WHY?” Why do leaders accumulate unproductive, outdated activities in our lives? For me, there are at least four reasons.
Lack of Vision – Today always pushes out tomorrow. Diligence is required to maintain a future focus. If we’re not careful, we can get caught looking at today, or worse yet yesterday, vs. tomorrow. The past matters, but it’s not the future. And, as Marshall Goldsmith so accurately stated, “What got you here, won’t get you there.” Without vision, we’ll hold on to yesterday, and all its trappings, far too long.
Failure to Innovate – Sometimes, we may hold on to today’s methods because we don’t have a better idea. If we fail to innovate, we’re destined to maintain what will eventually become outdated approaches to the work. That’s why Reinvent Continuously is one of the five core practices of what every great leader does.
Fear of the Unknown – Like the people we lead, sometimes we become fearful. There is much about the future we don’t know. Therefore, outdated activities can create a safety blanket of sorts. The only way to know the future is to create it – and even then, it will be full of surprises. This fact alone can cause good leaders to cling to what is known.
Lack of Rigor – Sometimes, it’s just easier to accept what is known. It’s hard work to break new ground and find new solutions. As I’ve taught young leaders over the years, one constant has been their amazement at how hard leadership really is. This reality can cause us all to cut corners and pursue efficiency over effectiveness. It can also lead us to maintain antiquated methods until forced to do otherwise.
On my way home from the landfill, I felt great. My spirit was refreshed; not because I’d been to the dump – I think it was because I knew I’d done the right thing.
Yes, we did keep the bicycle and the ball gloves, but we shed ourselves of a lot of things we didn’t need. As a leader, that’s what I try to do on a regular basis. The less junk you accumulate, the easier it is to move into the future.[GLS_Shield]
What do you need to take to the dump?