These words uttered by Tim Marks have been going round and round in my head lately. They have taken quite a long time to sink in though, which is kind of funny, considering the gist of what he is saying is that actions speak louder than words.
How true is this sentiment in leadership though? How many times has this pronouncement been made? Why does the message make total sense when you say it out loud, yet become garbled when you attempt to move the thought to action?
Am I the only one who gets tired by just thinking about being the type of person who leads by example and not just pointing at a person and say “do”? I realize that this sounds silly – and it is. However I think this is just my brain’s way of handling the stress of trying to be more; to be better than what I am.
Instead of taking a chance or allowing myself to get a little uncomfortable my brain tells me to hang back and manage the situation from a distance that it is comfortable with. The result is no result, which keeps my wheels spinning while getting no real traction on the situation.
So, the question I ask myself is this – How do I break the cycle of insanity I have created by making the same mistake over and over again while expecting a different result?
I wish the answer to this was simple. I wish I could say that all it takes is reading good leadership books, listening to leadership talks and associating with a great group of people who have the results in life that you want. Unfortunately it takes much more than that and what it takes is scary and uncomfortable for most people (me most of all).
Also known as bravery, nerve, daring, mettle, guts. A lot of us want it; but not many truly know what it means to have it or use it for advancement purposes. Recently though my friend and mentor, Jon, mentioned how he was having his son do one new thing every day to build confidence. The purpose is to get him to leave his comfort zone momentarily, thus freeing him from that freezing fear that comes with change. It also proves to his son, in this case, that all new things are not bad and that they can be kind of fun and freeing.
I love this exercise. It scares me half to death at the same time though because I have a very introverted personality. (Deep down I want to be an extrovert because those people always seem to be having a good time) I don’t practice this enough though – and I should because leaving my comfort zone for small periods really does prove to me that I can be different and do exciting things.
In order for me to be effective to others, I have to be courageous. I have to be the example – I have to be willing to show others that different does not have to be scary and that limiting beliefs are paper thin if really examined closely. How else can I grow if I don’t try?
A virtue that does not exist in me on a consistent basis yet; but I digress. It is nonetheless a key component to becoming a true leader. Listening, empathy, encouragement and trust cannot happen unless I can exercise patience to sit and really listen to someone and care about the words that are coming out of their mouth. People know when I am not being an intentional listener, and it hurts them. If they have stepped outside their own comfort zone enough to trust me with their problems, the least I can do is stop and hear them with my whole heart.
Additionally, I cannot expect people to do exactly what I tell them to do. People are not robots; they are not wired to follow directions as they are stated. They have their own agendas and just because I give sound advice it doesn’t mean they are going to leap for joy and run off and do what I tell them. I have to know that when I speak, it has to be with truth and compassion with no further expectation. Any good that comes from the experience is just an added bonus.
Lastly I have to give people time and room to grow. Instant gratification is unattainable if I expect to grow in to a great leader. People have to be allowed to fall down, dust themselves off, assess the situation and begin anew. I, just need to remember to be there to sooth the scrapes then pat them on the back and tell them to keep going. I also have to remember to be patient with myself; I can’t change everything overnight, but I have to be willing to let myself walk my own path in my own due time.
What you do speaks so loudly
If I take the time to be intentional with my leadership transformation, people will notice. It won’t be from me telling them though; it will be the things I am doing – the example I set for others, the encouragement I provide, the knowledge I bring and the experience behind my efforts that will help me win the fight against myself.
This article was inspired by Rascal Tunes “Feed the Elephant” – This new Music CD will provide all the inspiration and motivation you need. Pop this in your CD player on a daily basis for encouragement and to assist you in overcoming your obstacles.