Choice is a funny thing.
Sometimes we want to choose.
Sometimes we want to be told.
We have to the power to choose nearly every minute of every day. For me, my morning looks like choosing to:
Workout or lay in bed?
Pack lunches or shower first?
Egg or protein drink?
Coffee or tea?
Seems easy enough.
Leadership requires you to make choices too. Usually harder then deciding what morning beverage you’re going to have.
Imagine for a second, you get to work and are confronted with 30 unread e-mails, 4 back to back meetings with no time in between, and chatty Cathy just popped her head in to say good morning.
Remember: how you react is your choice. So, step on up to your buffet of choices. What’s it going to be?
Option #1: You could grab those tongs and grab a handful of overwhelmed, a spoonful of frustration and a sprinkle of annoyed. How’s that taste? Old, bitter and sour?
Option #2: You could grab a plate and reach over the bowl of overwhelmed and take a couple pieces of deep breaths. Go ahead. Do it. (The person behind you in line isn’t paying attention anyway.) Next, look across the buffet, and grab a couple pieces of honesty. Then politely scoot past the awful bowl of smelly annoyed and grab the biggest piece of patience that you can fit on your plate.
It’s easy to choose Option #1. We all do it. It’s more fun to talk about the annoying amount of e-mails, how frustrating back to back meetings are and that annoying Cathy who can never see how busy you are. Seems exciting and dramatic. How do you feel after you’ve picked Option #1. Stressed, tired, stomach in knots?
It takes more time to choose Option #2. It’s slower. It requires honesty – even when it’s hard. (If you haven’t seen Kim Scott’s piece on Radical Candor, it’s worth the watch.) It requires patience, both with the person you’re dealing with and with yourself. And, it requires forgiveness for yourself, because you’re not perfect and you’re going to make mistakes. Option #2 can feel like a scarier option. But, how do you feel after you’ve picked Option #2? Calm, proud, relaxed?
In our work, we present participants a buffet of options around leadership development. We teach them about epic listening, confrontation, the importance of knowing your own story. We invite them to be vulnerable and share with each other and they begin to see the importance of relationships. We introduce them to Simon Sinek’s work, Carol Dweck’s Mindset work and Multipliers and Diminishers to name a few.
We create spaces for them to have real conversations about themselves and they begin to see the connection between who they are and how the react to things at home is often who they are and how they react at work. For some people, they begin to see that they don’t need to change who they are at work, that who they are as just a person is enough. For others, they hopefully begin to see that they have some work to do on themselves and they know that we are there to support them along the way.
We try and give our participants an abundance of fresh and healthy choices at the Elements Partnership leadership development buffet, but in the end it’s up to each individual leader to decide what they’re going to choose that day – are you going to sit and wait to be told what to do or are you going to courageously make your own choices?
What choice could you make today that would support you in how you want to show up as a leader?