Bridging Leadership Lessons from the Workplace and Those Experiences Shaping Today's Youth and Tomorrow's Leaders
Most people are familiar with the English proverb, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” I have written about this topic several times with the most direct being Taking Action is Key to Breaking out of the Planning Loop. In these cases, I typically am talking about achieving a goal or finishing a project that is impactful to you and your company/family.
Today, I’m looking at the Impact you make in relationships with others, whether coworkers, family, friends, or complete strangers. Those moments in time where a simple gesture or word can create a ripple across multiple people. This anomaly became known as the butterfly effect based on the observations and writings of Edward Lorenz.
I am that “good intentions” guy. I think about sending a card to someone during times of grief - but I never do. I think I should reach out and give a person a call or text congratulating them on the promotion - but I don’t. I have these great intentions, these feelings inside of me that I know I should act on but because of fear, laziness, or anxiety, I don’t.
The book Leadership and Self-Deception by the Arbinger Institute talks in detail about Self-Betrayal in a very relatable story format. It was a punch in the gut when I read the book. The authors define Self-Betrayal as “an act contrary to what I feel I should do for another.” The book goes on to state that when you betray yourself, you start to look at the world in a way that justifies your actions/feelings or your self-betrayal. Then, when you start to see the world in a self-justified way, your view of reality becomes distorted. Wow. That’s me. A guy who thinks he is a good friend but in reality, tends to fall short of meeting my expectations. I intend to be a good friend, but I get busy and justify why I don’t reach out, stay in touch and follow-thru with what I know I should do.
I bring this up to encourage you to read the 3 books from the Arbinger Institute. They talk about Outward vs Inward mindsets. In the book The Outward Mindset, they write “...someone with an outward mindset holds himself accountable both for his own actions and performance, and for his impact on others actions and performance.” When I went back and re-read the highlighted portions of the book to support this post, I was blown away how my One Word for the year, IMPACT, was so prevalent throughout the book.
I saw first-hand in October of 2021 how the willingness to put yourself out there can have a positive impact on others. A coworker of mine was feeling stressed and struggling at work. I was at a conference in St. Louis and had exchanged some texts and emails during the day. The frustration was understandable and very evident in our communication. On my way home, I decided to make the call (yes, I actually took ACTION instead of just thinking about it!) and we talked. I shared my perspective and feedback that I had received from others on the value this employee brought to the company. He thanked me and I was happy that I finally chose to act instead of intending to act.
The next day, my coworker and I were talking when he asked me to shut the door. He proceeded to thank me and the sincerity in his voice was evident. It wasn’t easy for him, and it wasn’t easy for me to receive it either. But at that moment, the power of sharing oneself was never more evident to me. Seeing the way it made him feel and in turn how I felt was very powerful.
Two days later, during a Teams video meeting, I received a chat message from a different co-worker. He shared fond memories from the early days of working together in the company. Unbeknownst to him, that was exactly what I needed at that moment in time as I was struggling with my own positivity and mindset. I sincerely thanked him for reaching out and sharing and honestly, I probably made him a little uncomfortable as I’m sure he couldn’t comprehend the IMPACT those messages had on me. If my coworker, two days earlier, had not shown the heartfelt appreciation, I probably would have blown off the comments with a funny response or some thumbs up. But knowing how it made me felt, I knew I had to show this person the same courtesy and respect.
German philosopher Friderich Nietzche said “A ‘thing’ is the sum of its effects.” The effect of taking action instead of just intending to take action has a tremendous IMPACT on the three people in those two different interactions. Who else was impacted by the ripple of reaching out, choosing to share a little bit of yourself and making sure that your IMPACT is felt 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.