I have a friend who had a bumper sticker that reads “Practice Kindness.” More that later.
At my workout today, we did sprint work. I haven’t sprinted since I was like 20 years old. Heck, I do these silly workouts so that if a situation arose, I wouldn’t have to run 🙂 Something that stuck out today, however, was a simple statement. The leader of our class said that we were going to practice sprints so that we can get better at them. Not really a mind-blowing statement, right?
However, being me, I pushed myself through those workouts but found myself thinking philosophically about this the whole time. We’re sentient, condition-able beings and the more we do something, the more we develop that behavior as a part of our being. I began to ask myself “What do I practice each day?”
If practice makes us more able to do something, wouldn’t it make sense to practice things that matter?
Do I practice communication?
Do I practice listening?
Do I practice leading with equity?
Do I practice time management?
Do I practice anything?
Do I practice kindness like my friend’s simple but wonderful bumper sticker?
And what does what I practice matter to the big picture?
Good questions to mull over on a beautiful Spring morning.
Here are 4 recent movies that featured leaders with some noteworthy characteristics (in no particular order):
1. The Dark Knight Rises Bruce Wayne/Batman is a hero but not the bubbliest of of heroes. In fact, in spite of Batman’s awesome abilities, I definitely would not let a batman-type ever babysit my kid. However, Bruce Wayne typifies a character of integrity. His passion to right any wrongs and to do what is good is indicative of a characteristic all of us should aspire to.
2. 42 Jackie Robinson had some courage to take on the color barrier and racial injustice in the way that he did. Jackie lead from the front, by example, and demonstrated what persistance and vision looks like. Leaders need to be persistant towards what matters.
3. Zero Dark Thirty Maya, an analyst in Zero Dark Thirty, is so bent on finding Osama Bin Laden that her life is planned around her efforts. Leaders are borderline obsessed with success and achieving their goal. How do you define success and how are you working to acheive it? If your version of success does not invigorate you with passion and fervor, it’s time to reassess what you’re doing.
4. Argo Argo is the story of how the government snuck out several U.S. citizens from Iran during the a crisis in 1980. Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) came up with a bizarre scheme to create a fake sci-fi movie in order to trick the Iranian government into allowing said citizens free unknowingly. Bottom line: Great leaders use ingenuinity, creativity, and think outside of the box to accomplish goals that many would deem impossible. Great leaders figure out a way to make it work.
What other movies have inspired you?
If you’re reading this website, you’re most likely a leader, a person who wants to be a leader, or lost. Let’s hope it’s the former rather than the latter 🙂 Leaders expend a lot of energy and effort… but that can also render a leader tired. Here are 6 ways that a leader can recharge their batteries.
1. Laugh The best leaders laugh at situations and themselves, as President Obama aptly did here. Laughing lightens the mood and can de-escalate many situations. Learn to laugh.
2. Take a siesta Every week I try to go for at least one long hike, bike ride, or other exhilirating outdoor adventure. I always go with close, drama-free friends or by myself. After every trip, I come back feeling detoxed and ready to conquer the world again. Rest is essential to a leader.
3. Boundaries A siesta is one thing. There is also something to be said for punching the “off” button on the timeclock, however. When your shift is over at work, let it be over. This does not make you a bad employee or non-committed; instead, it means that you will maintain a healthy work-life balance and you will be that much more of a superstar when you are on the clock!
4. Find happy vices I love foot massages. They’re not overly expensive if you go to the right places. However, that’s my stress-relieving vice. Maybe watching a series on Netflix or Hulu is your vice. Maybe eating some sweet Chicago-style pizza is your vice. Whatever. Know your healthy vice and reward yourself with it sometimes.
5. Sleep Sleep is incredibly important and yet, as a busy Western culture, it is our first thing that we compromise. Get your 8 or 9 hours of sleep a night to recharge yourself. Do not compromise this! It is essential to continued success and wellness!
6. Proactively recharge The best leaders never run out of battery power. Think of a car battery: It puts out a lot of power but it has an alternator to simultaneously recharge. Leaders need an alternator! Find the things that intrinsically motivate you – growth opportunities, little successes, rewards, whatever – and hold onto those things! Enjoy what you do and it’ll be that much harder to run out of batteries!
So…what say you? What is missing from this list? What else helps you recharge?
There are many ways to bring about change in an organization, team, company, or other group. Here are 4!
1. Highlight the bright spots! It is easy for a leader to feel like they have to reinvent the wheel when major change is the goal. However, usually there are some employees or people already performing the desired behavior, at least to some degree. Highlight this, focus on this, reward this, validate this! Focus on why this is happening in some people and what intrinsic motivation is perpetuating this behavior.
2. Shrink the change! If I asked you to eat a whole pie right now, it would seem intimidating. However, if we divided a pie up into slices, the pie would be easier to consume. Chip and Dan Heath bring this into a context in their book “Switch,” where small victories perpetuate more small victories… instead of just focusing on one huge victory.
3. Choose your tasks wisely! In Kerry Patterson’s book “Influencer,” she urges her readers to focus on changing a maximum of 3 or 4 things. Think of the image of a person spinning a bunch of plates at a time, something that you may have seen on Letterman or in a circus. As the person spins 3 or 4 plates, the task seems relatively easy. However, as more plates are spun simultaneously, the first plates start to wobble. As more and more plates are added, more plates wobble, some may fall, and the plate spinner sweats like crazy trying to make them all spin at once. When you set out to change, spin a few plates and spin them well!
4. Lead from the front! It is one thing to talk about change and another to demonstrate change. Today, my wife and I went to the beach and read for a couple of hours. While at the beach, we saw a bunch of dolphins jumping 30 feet off the shoreline. It is one thing to tell you about this or to even show you a picture, but it’d be a bit more impactful for me to bring you along to the beach so you could see it with your own eyes. Being alongside people to experience change – or to model the behavior to your cohorts around you – shows that you walk the talk that you bring. People follow leaders who lead from the front and experience change alongside their teams. Oh yeah – by the way – leading from the front is a lot more fun than watching from the sidelines!
This list can easily go on to include multiple other things. What do you think? What else would you add? What has worked for you?