Bridging Leadership Lessons from the Workplace and Those Experiences Shaping Today's Youth and Tomorrow's Leaders
I tend to be an optimist, so much so that it seems to bother my wife and daughter when I try to throw in a positive spin on something. This may surprise some of my coworkers who feel my tendency is to point out areas for improvement…but I view that as looking for the positive potential! I have spent my lifetime being steady when it comes to stress and skillfully hiding it from my family and others, skillfully tucking it away deep into the inner recesses of my heart, mind, and soul. This might be connected to My Day of Impact that resulted in a defibrillator being installed!
So, when my frustration finally bubbles to the surface, the change in me becomes evident by those who know me - not just in the words I say, but in how I say them. It’s in my demeanor and it’s in what I don’t say. I don’t go to this dark place very often, but when I do, it can be a debilitating place that drains the energy, enthusiasm, and passion from me, which for me and who I am, is one of the worst feelings I can have.
But it is during those times of darkness when the impact you wish to make moves from the positive to the negative when you must really do some self-reflection. But sometimes, even that time of self-development can reinforce the frustration and continue to spiral into helplessness. Amazingly, things seem to happen and voices rise when they are most needed and people are placed before you to help you stay afloat. My last post, Pivot Towards Your Goal, highlighted those people who had been impacted by my blogs and have shared their stories with me and their feelings to inspire me to write even more blogs.
During a stage of frustration, I received an email from a friend sharing a personal poem that they wrote. It caught me off guard for a couple of reasons. First, this ex-military, outdoorsman didn’t pass the stereotype that exists for a poet and second, it was such a personal and vulnerable glimpse into his emotions and his mind. It was truly a blessing to receive something so private and precious. He entrusted me with this piece of him, that he had no clue was exactly what I needed at that point and time. I highlighted the power of Vulnerability in Impact Others by Sharing Yourself. That Impact came full circle.
Later that day, I was having a 1on1 with a coworker, who had been sensing my frustration. Because of our relationship that we had built over time, she was courageous enough to point out that she saw I was struggling. But it wasn’t enough to point it out, she provided specific examples and how what I was doing wasn't normal for me and was below my expectations, but also HER expectations for me. She recited my own words from the recent training classes I had given and highlighted the tools that I had used in the class that was critical for me now.
She also opened up about how she faced a dark day in her own past and she reminded me that on that day, I had challenged her and helped her find a pathway forward. She said that while that day was the most challenging for her, it was also the day that began her biggest growth. Again, that vulnerability and that Impact came full circle.
That evening, a friend I greatly admire, shared my blog post on social media encouraging others to read my blog as he found it beneficial in a lot of ways. This person took the time to share with others and with me. A moment of positivity and caring that he didn’t know was needed, but it had an Impact.
The next week two coworkers, who used to be part of my team, continued providing leadership lessons to me as they stepped forward on different occasions to encourage me, to challenge me, to demand better of me, to care for me. We talked about my approach and how that can cloud my impact. My words detract from my actions and my intent. The respect and trust that we had built, empowered them to talk about sensitive topics with someone like me who has a strong personality. But I trusted them, so their words, their friendship had an Impact.
That evening, my wife and I are sitting on the couch, and I am sharing all these amazing moments that have had an impact on me. It was hard to share these moments without becoming emotional, because it came from special people at a critical time. My wife looked at me and simply asked, “could you try and care less?” She wasn’t suggesting that I look at what I do as a job and not care about the outcome - to just punch a time clock. But what she was asking was if I could find a way to filter out the things that I can and cannot control. I can find acceptance in those areas where I am empowered and instead of worrying about outcomes, can I enjoy the process of making an impact. She asked me to seek gratitude. She asked me to find the blessings that appear when you need them most.
When people you care about and respect come forward to challenge you, you must listen. When they reference your own words and your own training classes as examples to challenge you and your approach - you have no choice but to listen. I could ignore them. Become defensive. Tell them to go to hell. But how could I possibly do that? When they care enough to challenge me? When they have enough respect for me that they want to help me? I have no choice but to honor them and listen to what they have to say. Without them knowing, it was their IMPACT that I needed to get Beyond Today.
Tom Brown - a husband and a father who is simply trying to make a difference. Using my experience as a Manufacturing Executive to connect leadership from the boardroom to the hardwood to help teams grow and develop to make a difference in the lives of others.