There is a lot of jostling going on at the moment.  The world is being shaken up and is not as we know it.  Some kind of new normal is on its way or perhaps it’s already here.  You can’t scroll down a feed for too long before you find people adjusting themselves and trying to figure out what comes next and where they fit in.

In the last week, I’ve had the benefit of some next-level discussions with my 14-year old son which, for anyone that’s been there, you’ll appreciate can be fairly experimental and testing every first-time round – especially for a Mum.  It’s given me pause to stand back and appreciate who he’s becoming and what he needs.  To “sit back” and listen.  To appreciate everything he brings to the table and what he’s trying to add to that.

I’ve also had the pleasure of being part of building a new team on a new venture which has, in many ways, been a somewhat similar experience.  Over the last week or two we’ve sat back and listened to each other.  We’ve explored what each of the other team members might bring to the whole.  We’ve started to reconsider what it is we ourselves might bring, so that we can figure out how to build a strong foundation with our overlaps and add to driving challenge with our differences.  We’ve started to assess where our strengths cover each other, and where we may have gaps to be aware of.

Last week, we talked about the fact that anyone can lead from where they stand, taking ownership and making a difference for themselves and those around them.  This week, I’ve been super aware of the number of incredibly qualified members of the aviation community who are doing just that – reconsidering what it is they bring to the table, and how it is that they can use their powers for good in which ever avenue next presents a need.  This post from Emma Tellesy is a fine example; as is this article from David Rees.

If you take the time to look at these examples, you’ll see people who aren’t taking the changes we’re going through lying down.  They’re aware of their gifts – not only their qualifications, but even more so, their life experience and skills – all of which would provide powerful additions to any team, as we shuffle and reconfigure our world.

I’ve long believed that each one of us is uniquely gifted, not only with the intricacies of our own personalities, but the multiple layers that we add to this the further we journey through our lives – the experiences of our lives and what they add to our understanding of how we work, and how the rest of the world operates around us.  I’ve also long believed that if we’re aware and open to our own uniqueness, then we can appreciate the same in others, and that that appreciation is what makes us diversely strong as a human race.  Enough overlap of common values and beliefs, with a healthy appreciation for our diversity, is what’s needed to build any great team.  My fascination for the beauty of this is what drives me in the work I do, and what gives me joy every time I see a team of people renewed in their understanding and appreciation of each other and their joint mission.

When was the last time you sat back and did a thorough stocktake of your life experience and everything you bring to the table?  Not just your CV, but the journey you’ve walked.  The stops you’ve made along the way.  The thought processes you’ve taken the time to expand upon, even if you’ve never shared them.  The good, the bad and the ugly that have formed you as a uniquely useful human being – one that there is not replica of in the whole entire world.  When was the last time you refreshed what it is that really drives YOU.  What gives you a sense of purpose?  What is it that’s made you supremely happy in your lifetime, and contrastingly, what’s made you sad or sapped?

All of these things are pointers that tell us what we’re here for.  All of these experiences add something to the layers that make up each of us.  In the video I linked to in my article last week, Jocko Willink talks about learning to lead, and compares it to mastering woodwork.  He notes that to lead, you must first learn to use the appropriate tools.  Then, you must appreciate that there are various different types of wood to work with, each with their own distinguishing characteristics.  Further still, every piece of wood is unique within itself, regardless of its type.  I thought that was a fabulous metaphor and perfectly describes how beautifully made each one of us is – each of us with different grains and knot holes.

When our entire world is being shaken up, and nothing is where you left it, or how you expected it to be… when it doesn’t look like you practised for, and you’re no longer sure where you fit in – rest assured that that does not diminish your value.  When it doesn’t look like you trained for, then a reconsideration of the mission may be needed; but that makes you no less qualified or capable of undertaking a new mission.

Not everyone is prepared to stand and lead, whether that is from the front, or quietly from the middle – but everyone is capable of it.  No matter your age, your background, your upbringing, your experience – it is 100% guaranteed that there is not another one like you.  Each of us is powerfully constructed within our own right, and absolutely necessary – else we wouldn’t be here.  Whilst where we fit in and what we’re supposed to be using our powers for next may sometimes be in question, it’s not the first or last time that will be the case, and there is ALWAYS an answer.

Reassess.  Take stock.  Run back over everything that has equipped you and examine the pointers that tell you what drives you specifically.  Do the work to assess what you bring to the table.  And then look for the table that needs you.

by Christen Killick

August 24th, 2020

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