March 27, 2017
Recently, I was asked to chair a committee whose job it was to gather information, provide information and ultimately, make some recommendations back to a governing body. The topic was one about which some people have deeply held and passionate beliefs. It’s also one that has caused some deep divisions in our society. Let me share a few of the personal leadership learnings from the past year.
When asked to chair the committee, my intuition screamed, “Say no, say no!” And then the words, “Yes, I’ll do it” came out of my mouth. I truly felt “called” to say yes. And here’s what I’ve learned about going against my intuition.
- Pay attention - You need to be on high alert. Something (or perhaps many things) may be about to happen that will require significant thinking and action…you just don’t know what it is…yet.
- “A” Game - The topic at hand was one I personally wasn’t highly vested in, and I was far from an expert on the subject, so I needed to do my homework, and I really needed to watch my intensity level to keep myself energized and appropriately engaged. Most of the people on the committee were passionate and highly opinionated about the topic. It would have been unfair for me to not bring my “A” game to the meetings.
- Hold the Reins – When discussing politically charged issues people bring a personal story that they often feel compelled to share – whether it serves the purpose of the committee’s agenda or not. Remind the group regularly and clearly of the task at hand.
- Perspective – As a society we’re becoming less and less tolerant of “the other”, whether it’s red state-blue state, religious differences, sexuality, or any one of a myriad of topics. There are few things so intolerant as a group that demands tolerance. When confronted with solid logic in opposition of my opinion, it’s highly likely that I’ll not say, “thank you for helping me see it your way”, but rather take a step back so I have plenty of room to dig in my heels and defend my current ideology. So as a committee chair, it was essential for me to realize that I shouldn’t hope to see sweeping change in people’s thinking, but for me to keep a healthy perspective of knowing exactly what the environment would be like.
- Feelings Rule – As we make our way through these post truth years, leaders need to realize that most people’s primary motive is “happy”. Our feelings lie to us, regularly. The human animal is the only creature capable of lying, and after doing so for long periods of times, begins to actually believe the lies. Alleviating pain* in the easiest possible way is highly prized. So you have an environment where only a few people see the value in holding the tension of diverse beliefs and opinions.
In closing, trust your intuition, and if you go against it, that’s okay, but keep your eyes and perspective wide open. In challenging circumstances, don’t expect it to be easy. And don’t expect to be appreciated. Expect it to be difficult, important, challenging…and an awesome learning experience that may just yield some very important results for you and your community. And know that staying aligned with your core values is vital to your long-term success. I know that my intuition is right about that. Keep going!
*According the CDC, prescription antidepressant use has risen by 400% in the last twenty years (1 in 10 Americans have prescriptions).
This blog shares my perspective on how we all have the ability to create new endings to our stories that are meaningful, powerful and filled with hope. I facilitate transformational change processes helping organizations achieve maximum mission impact. Also, I provide leadership coaching to help executives and aspiring leaders become the fullest expression of who they’re intended to be.