Between work…month end…quarter end…year end…holiday parties of all shapes & sizes…decorating the house (inside & out)…cooking…baking…shopping…seeing the new Star Wars movie….are you finally ready? Now…let me ask you another question…have you paid attention to who you were in all those moments? Are you continuing to notice those around you and living your values…even in moments where life is getting in the way? A few years ago…in the midst of the Holiday madness…I was reminded yet again that leadership is a daily practice…not just something that is saved up for days when you think you should focus on it.
So follow me back in time. Let’s cue the psychedelic music that indicates we are travelling back to December 18th, 2012. Here’s how the story goes…..
Last week, I got stressed out that I had NOTHING done for the holidays. My youngest daughter’s birthday is on Dec 14th (poor planning on my part) and any waking hours I had, where I was not thinking about work, had been spent trying to plan her party etc… So – to manage my stress and take control of my destiny, I took Thursday and Friday off to gain control over the list and to shop with reckless abandon to make some progress.
My final meeting on Wednesday afternoon was a coaching session with a young woman on my team and it started with tears. Her Cat, which has been with her through thick and thin, has been very sick and she had made the decision to put her down on Thursday morning. Seeing how upset she was just talking about it – I could not imagine her driving herself to the vet and back on her own. I asked the fateful question “who is taking you”? Of course she had no one to take her and knowing I was off – I said that I would. She was immediately grateful and relieved that I would be willing to do it. In my heart I knew it was the right thing to do and I was humbled that she would accept my offer but I couldn’t help but also think – there goes my time to get all my errands done.
When I sponsored the Leadership Challenge by Posner & Kouzes earlier that year – one of the things I talked to the group about was what my values were and how they lined up with my companies values. In my prep notes I wrote the following: “I believe that my values of love and affection, trust and hope– aligns well with developing and valuing teammate as well as respecting each other. One set defines me – the other defines us – and how the two co-exist is important to me as a leader.” As I spent Thursday morning with this young woman and held her as she cried for the loss of her pet, I shed a few tears myself – I thought about how important it was for me to do this – not only for her but for me. As leaders – it’s easy to talk about our values but harder to really live them. Living them is so important to those we work with as it really forms the core of who we are.
As I ran on the treadmill on Friday morning – I thought about being present when that little life left this earth and how I did manage to get my errands all done. This teammate came to our house that evening to have dinner and help decorate the Whitehouse Christmas tree. She really seemed to enjoy herself and made her a little lighter from a very difficult day.
The leadership lesson is – know your values and be prepared to live them – even when your own life seems to get in the way!
Leadership Questions of the week for YOU:
- How often do we evaluate or test our values to see if they are truly what defines us?
- How many times have we focused so much on what WE have to do that we miss an opportunity to live our values and help someone else?
- What act of random kindness can you do TODAY for someone else (family, friend or co-worker) that aligns with your values.
I don’t know about you but I still a lot to do before I am ready for the Holiday but maybe acts of random kindness will make up for all I have forgotten.
Who we are at ALL times matters!
Thanks for reading and remember…..YOU make a difference!
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