This quote was written on the white board across from my desk as a reminder to get up and insert myself into where the work was being completed. I saw what it looked like when leaders made decisions without exploring the 2nd and 3rd order effects and this was a deeply rooted fear. By seeing firsthand the struggles and successes of our team, we learn their true needs. Only then, can we make decisions that better enable them to complete the mission.
Be visible, be interested, and be involved is my formula for trust. We can never truly know what our team brings to the table until we go where they are and experience what they are doing. Even though I worked the flightline for years in all of the elements and under harsh conditions, I still found myself humbled years later when I would go out with the team. Hanging out with them as they worked in the 110 degree desert sun, showed me a lot of opportunities to make their lives better. It gave me perspective when making decisions in the future. Just because you or I had to struggle, doesn’t mean we have to let others do the same. We know the value of each drop of water, of each effort our team delivers…let’s prove it to them.
Hard work does pay off; however, a lot of our hard work can be eliminated or reduced if we look to solve problems. When we take the time to solve a small problem in our area, it makes our lives better. I remember this cord that stretched to the desk many people used. If we moved anything near the cord, it would come unplugged. We all learned to work around it and “avoided” this problem. Eventually, someone replaced the short extension cord with a longer one and rerouted the cord. This was no longer a problem. Something so simple and yet no one else thought of how to solve the issue, instead we were simply looking for new ways to live with the problem. Solve problems, don’t nurture them.
So many of us get placed into situations that scare us. We are asked to brief the boss on a plan or a problem. We are asked to take over a shop that is failing. We are asked to supervise an amazing team. Change and the unknown scare the crap out of us. However, I bet if we all looked back on similar moments in our past, there were other times like this. Each time we did survive and we learned something valuable. Give it a go and be confident you will survive!
I agree and disagree with this one. Agree: if we want to be respected and be the leader others want to follow, we have to be respectful and earn their hearts. Disagree: there are many superiors in my past who I could not stand and hoped they would stub their toe often; however, I complied with their direction. I respected their position, not the person. We all have the option of being respected based on the stripes on our sleeves or based on the quality of our character. Which do you choose?
Ever see those people who have something to say at every meeting? Most of the time they are not adding an ounce of value and usually derailing the conversation. Why? So often we feel the need to chime in because we want to contribute. Next time you are about to speak out, think about if the group could still succeed without that comment. If they can, no need to say anything.
We are meant for great things. However, when the finish line of the race is designed to edify ourselves, we are missing the point. We have the gifts and talents that we do to further a cause or an ideal. We will all be pushing posies at one point, but the causes we champion will continue on. I already know you are a legend, no need to prove it to anyone else. Further someone or something and your work will live on forever.
I wish I was strong enough to never have negative thoughts about my own abilities. If I were, I would be writing and mentoring others full time. Our thoughts control our attitude and our attitude controls our actions. Driving negative thoughts from our mind is much harder than most of us would like it to be. However, we all know the other side of the coin is much shinier.
The moment I stopped worrying about what others thought of me and focused on helping young NCOs build confidence in their own abilities is the moment I realized I could have an impact.