Yesterday, Lee got a call from a young woman, a single mom with a young daughter. She said, “I can’t talk to my mom and dad anymore, but I know ‘Mr. Lee’ can help me sort out what happened today. I couldn’t believe it when the manager pushed me with both hands…” And the story went on from there.
Later that day, another member of our team called to talk about exhaustion and the overwhelm of daily life. Yet another called with an “Aha!” moment about determining when a candidate is willing to change to create change -- and when this is someone just looking for commiseration or a handout. The “Aha” was that he didn’t want to spend much time anymore with those with victim mentalities who endlessly list and recommit to their limitations.
We are building a business team, right?
No, it’s clear we’re building a Life Team -- a rare surrogate family with members pulling together, willing to learn from each other, and celebrating each other without judgement or exception. Our three calls yesterday were questions about responding rather than reacting, about finding the joy in the madness, about limiting association with self-limiting people, about consciously becoming more.
Lee and I often remark on the parallel between parenting and how we run our company. Good parenting, that is -- modeling what we teach, listening with the intention to understand, admitting mistakes, applauding victories, holding the vision of a purposeful, wide screen life.
Some people have experienced parents who lay down the law and punish infractions, or assume the role of a “superior officer” who commands by dominating and denigrating. Both in biological families and in business families, these strategies crush self esteem and suppress potential for a full, purposeful and joyful life.
Leadership by edict can only cause conflict and ultimately defection. What we aspire to is leadership where we routinely ask ourselves, “What is the principle here?” and “What will move this person closer to a life they will love?”
A recurrent thought I had when I was raising my kids was that it was an immense responsibility. I had a nightmare once that I was carrying my infant son across a tightrope spanning the Grand Canyon. I woke up with a start, short of breath and fully cognizant of how much my next steps as a parent might affect my son’s well being.
Later, I came to the realization that serious mistakes would cascade down the generations -- and so would excellent parenting decisions and course corrections. This can be seen as a tremendous burden, or as a reason to work on me -- grow me -- so that I am capable of giving guidance to those who will give guidance to the next generation, and the next.
Lee and I feel this same chance to create generational change with our business/life team. And we feel the same responsibility to keep growing in integrity, humility and wisdom, so that other lives, as well as ours, can more surely reach their full bloom of humanity. We cannot be too resourced; we cannot reach out to our mentor too much or read too many books or listen to the teachings of too many thought leaders.
More each day, we see the need to be willing to BE “parented.” Seeking people out who are further down the road illuminates the path ahead-- whether the journey is financial invincibility, or self-awareness, or peace of mind. Maybe we can’t see the way clearly yet, but someone else can.
Sometimes, I feel the same terror that I did as a mom -- of consistently setting the wrong example, of setting in motion duplication of my shortcomings rather than my strengths. But then, I remember, I can become a better woman, a better leader, a better mom, and that mistakes are not permanent unless I make them permanent by repeating them. I have -- we all have -- total freedom to continue to correct our course, to continue to evolve -- which, in the end, is the very best example to set.