2019 is now well underway and, in my article last week, I asked you to decide how this year was going to go for you: Who you were going to present yourself as, and how you were going to lead. Life tends to dump us in the deep end, and as many resolutions and plans as we make, life tends to get in the way. Because this is a given – it’s something that affects us all – this week I’d like to remind you: By all means BE HUMAN…but remember your team.
It’s human nature when the going gets tough, when the ball starts rolling faster, when the heat increases for us to do the thing we feel we do best in a position of leadership – and take control. It’s human nature when we feel out of control in one area, to try and regain a feeling of control in that area or another compensating area. Very few of us deal well with feeling out of control. And yet….we’re only human. And to remind you of the baseline principle of control – the ONLY thing we have full control of is ourselves…
A few months back, I wrote a short article entitled The Value of Teams in which I quoted a list of reasons we have a team. They ranged from them providing multiple perspectives on how to meet a need or reach a goal, to being able to maximize a leader’s potential and minimize their weaknesses, to helping keep those leaders accountable for the goals set. This article was based on the premise that there’s very little we can solve alone and so much that we can solve together.
And yet, for some reason, when the going gets going, we tend to forget that we have a team and try and do so much in our own strength.
There was a defining moment for me in February last year when I was sitting at the hospital watching my then-11-year-old son fall apart next to me. He’d just watched me give my Step-Father CPR. He’d initiated the phone call to get someone to help us, and then he’d dealt with the ambulance crew – furnishing them with information over the phone; waiting for them on the road at the house and guiding them in the gate, and then watching them help me continue CPR. He’d listened to me give shaky updates to various family members spread over the globe and taken pride in the fact that he “didn’t know he could help in a situation like that!”, and now he was descending into appropriately 11-year-old distress.
I knew I couldn’t leave. I knew he couldn’t stay. But do you think I could think of a single person to call to come and fetch my child? It wasn’t that I didn’t have people. It wasn’t that I didn’t have a team. It was that I was so unused to asking for help that in that moment, I couldn’t think. My MINDSET was not predisposed to asking for help. That moment has caused me some serious thinking since then, coupled with new recognition for a few things, and a serious shift in mindset. I’ve reconsidered what I viewed as “strong”. I have new recognition for the number of people I COULD have called in that instance that would have leapt into action on my behalf. New recognition for the people that stand ready to support me. And new recognition for the empowerment I now recognize when I allow a team to support me so that I can ACT! A new mindset that acknowledges that we are more powerful together than I can ever be alone.
Now, here I am, taking a joyous running leap into the next chapter. My son is going to school in another country (his choice). My business is expanding past where I dreamed it could go. And both of these things are happening because we have teams of people to support us. People to receive us who know the way we need to take better than we do. People to provide advice and assistance and encouragement. People to provide support – filling in the blanks and taking up the duties that allow life to keep rolling whilst we step into unchartered territory. We are surrounded by support that allow us both to be the strongest and most focused we can be as we take on what awaits us.
Trust yourself. But not yourself alone. Trust that you have the strength and ability to do what you know you need to do – even if you’re not always sure of the “how”. Trust that you’ve surrounded yourself with the right people and take advantage of the fact that you have a team. Give others the chance to step into their own strengths. When you do so, you both give them an opportunity to use their gifts, and to know that they too are part of a team.
When the going gets tough, remember that to lead, you must be part of something greater than yourself. Part of a greater set of strengths just waiting to support you. And yet we so willingly try and do so many things alone when the curved balls come thick and fast.
The final paragraphs of Richard Bach’s book “Nothing By Chance” have always stuck with me:
“At last, the answer why. The lesson that had been so hard to find, so difficult to learn, came quick and clear and simple. The reason for problems is to overcome them. Why, that’s the very nature of man, I thought, to press past limits, to prove his freedom. It isn’t the challenge that faces us, that determines who we are and what we are becoming, but the way we meet the challenge, whether we toss a match at the wreck or work our way through it, step by step, to freedom.
And behind it lies not blind chance but a principle that works to help us understand, a thousand “coincidences” and friends come to show us the way when the problem seems too hard to solve alone. Problems for overcoming. Freedom for proving. And, as long as we believe in our dream, nothing by chance.” – Richard Bach, Nothing by Chance
by Christen Killick
January 14th, 2019