I Told Him to Get His Head Out of His A**
I was embarrassed when Corey reminded me of some advice I gave him six years ago. My advice was, “I think you should get your head out of your a**.”
He said it was the best advice he’d ever been given.
It took me a moment, but I remembered the conversation on my back deck. He felt buried. Graduation was around the corner.
Things have changed.
Corey graduated, found a great job, married a wonderful woman, and became a father.
Corey said the advice was a little surprising. He wanted something ‘profound’. But he said it helped him realize that everything was going to be OK. He just needed a chance to breathe.
Maybe you’re neck deep right now.
I coach a leader who wanted my help solving a problem with one of his employees. I looked him in the eye and said, “You’re bigger than this.”
Yes, you have to solve day-to-day problems. But what are you doing to take your leadership to the next level?
The 4 laws of the rope:
#1. Get a view of your current situation. Pull yourself up and look around.
- Where are you now, compared to where you hoped to be?
- If things continue as they are, where will you be next week, month, quarter, or year?
#2. Adjust your bearings. With long-term goals in mind, ask:
- What are your near and middle-term opportunities?
- What is distracting you from doing what matters most?
- Where might the current talents and strengths on the team take you?
- Who might step up, if given the opportunity? 80% ready is ready enough.
- What tough decision are you putting off?
#3. Lower yourself back down into the weeds and get busy.
#4. Repeat once a week.
Leadership shrinks when all it does is focus on problems.
How might leaders keep one eye on the big picture while dealing with day-to-day challenges?
We spend too much time thinking about where we want to be and not enough time thinking about where we are at the moment. No one has any idea what the future holds. The best we can do is figure out how we can make the PRESENT better versus fantasizing about the FUTURE.
Thanks Jim. I feel the tension between the long view and the present view. I think rising up and looking around helps us better function in the present. Perhaps the most useful principle is adapt as you go.
LIke so many leaders, this young man was lost in the present and had forgotten the big picture. Having said that, what’s the point of taking a look at the big picture if you aren’t going to do something today.
Due to others perceived incompetence, What to do if your superiors keep insisting you come down a level to solve current issues when all you want to do is make a solid plan for the future?
Thanks Paul. Try doing both? Leaders have to spend most of their time in the present while keeping one eye on the future.
Three suggestions:) :
1) Try using those “fix it” oportunities to communicate the vision of the future plan to leadership by showing how the team can avoid these types of issues.
2) Work to define your short term fixes in terms of where you need to be- in short use them to take baby steps in the right direction.
3) And, while you are at it, identify the next potential “fixers” and bring them into the problem solving process- create opportunites for growth for them and breathing room for you.
Thanks for sharing these insights, Len!
Actually one of the challenges leaders face is having a grasp of the current circumstances while also planning for the future, and I find these four laws of the rope quite intuitive.
Thanks Derrick. Leaders often fall into one of two buckets — great with long-term vision or great with day-to-day. Bringing them together is powerful.
I know its a classic but I love hearing the question, “If things continue as they are, where will you be next week, month, quarter, or year?” It reminds me of an earlier blog titled “You won’t drift your way to success.” If you seriously ask yourself that question you cant help but be motivated to assess your current situation and align it with your goals; at least I can’t help it. Sometimes all it takes is just asking people what their goals/dreams are AND THEN follow up with, “What are three things that WILL bring you closer to that goal?” To may people focus on the dream or their current problems and never think to build themselves up positively or ask themselves what is required to foster growth.
The issue that I see are managers that are given projects that have nothing to do with the department or even or organization. They don’t see the weeds they are not even in the same field