Reset & Refocus!
Or "why I haven't published anything recently"
“It’s been a long string of failures that made me the success I am today.”
That’s the way I started a 45-minute workshop for high school students at the DECA national conference in Washington, DC, a few years ago. It got a good laugh from the teens in the room because it’s not what they expected to hear. The statement was true though, and the humor came from the irony. When speaking to those young people, I didn’t try to present myself as some management guru who could do no wrong and had all the answers because, well, that’s not me at all!
I have tried and failed more times than I can remember. Not more times than I count – because I can count pretty high – but I know for a fact that I’ve come up short many more times than readily come to mind. (In fairness, I don’t recall what I had for lunch yesterday, so measuring against my memory is a pretty low bar.)
Anyway, my point is that I almost always fail before I succeed. Sometimes I fail multiple times before I stagger, out of breath and exhausted, into something resembling success. And to this day, I still tend to succeed through trial and error – testing new things and trying different options – which is my way of tackling “continuous improvement.”
“Why are you sharing all this?”
I’m telling you this because I want you to understand exactly who is claiming to be wise and knowledgeable enough to teach you how to be a Relaxed Leader. I want you to know a bit more about me before I continue sharing my thoughts and ideas through this publication.
I have lots of paper to prove I’ve been educated – including a couple Masters degrees – but I don’t have the coveted PhD to put after my name, declaring to the world that I’m smarter than most people. If that’s important to you, then I’m not your guy.
I’m not the CEO of a Fortune 500 company and I didn’t found a hot internet start-up (only to sell it to Facebook for $100M). At the time of this writing, I’m a government employee but I’m not in the Senior Executive Service (SES), which means I haven’t even reached the public sector equivalent of the C-Suite. (For the sake of transparency, I no longer have any desire to be an SES and purged that from my personal vision a few years ago.)
So why in the world would you listen to anything I have to say? If I had it all figured out, then I wouldn’t continue to fail so frequently, right? And if the knowledge and insights I have to share were truly valuable, I’d have a massive audience and more people would know my name already!
And that’s what led to me taking the last couple of weeks off from writing and recording podcasts for The Relaxed Leader. It was a combination of “impostor syndrome” and the need to figure out exactly what I want this project to be.
You see, in recent months, I had spent time mentoring and coaching a few people, so I was feeling confident and fired up when I started this project. I was ready to share all of my hard-won experience with a lot more people – and I wanted to specifically focus on those who are motivated to make a difference in the world without killing themselves. I really did want to help create and support excellent leaders – and I still want to do that.
However, I kept coming back to one question: “Why should anyone listen to what I have to say?”
Not “why WOULD anyone listen” because your reasons are your own and the simple fact is that you probably know me or are related to me. So I started thinking about why someone (who isn’t a good friend or a relative) SHOULD listen to what I have to say.
In other words, I had to get clear on whether or not I have a unique value proposition to offer all of my current and potential readers.
“Okay… so what did you decide?”
Well, I’m glad you asked! After spending some time soul-searching and deliberating with myself (out loud – but not in the mirror – if you really must know), here’s what I came up with:
First, I’m NOT a “recognized expert” in any field but I have expertise in leadership. I continue to find myself in positions where I have to lead in an area where I have very little domain knowledge and certainly no domain expertise – yet I’m able to get shit done. No matter what you may have heard, most leaders are made, not born – and I have some hard won lessons to share when it comes to leading in uncertain situations!
Second, being successful doesn’t mean you do everything perfectly. Being successful has more to do with grit and tenacity than with getting it right the first time. I haven’t succeeded because I’m exceptional – I’ve succeeded because I’m resilient. When faced with a “failure” along my journey, my general assessment is, “Well... that didn’t work out the way I thought it would.” Then I try it a different way or just move on to something else. And the great thing is that resiliency is something you can learn!
And finally, I’m a real person like you. I might be ahead of you in some areas and behind you in others. You might agree with things I say or you might think I’m off-base. My views might reinforce what you already know or they might challenge some of your strongly held beliefs. Regardless, I’m a real dude willing to spend a good chunk of my “free time” doing what I can to help you be a successful leader. You can often learn more from someone who’s like you than you can from some far-off expert in an “ivory tower!”
And that’s good enough for now.
“Are you going to keep publishing stuff or what?”
Yes, I’m going to get back into the writing and recording groove but I’ll be shaking things up a bit. Beginning next month, I’ve got a different plan for writing and podcasting, which I think will be more helpful.
For example, I’m not going to try to create a Masterclass every week. It’s a crazy amount of work for me to do in a short period of time, so it’s not always my best work... and you barely have time to read it, much less think about it and figure out how to put it into action. So from now on, there will be a new Masterclass on the first Monday of the month, which will kick-off the overall theme for that particular month.
My plan is to publish new articles twice a week – on Monday and Wednesday – and record one podcast (probably on Friday or Saturday), which will give me plenty of space to tackle different subtopics and expand upon the monthly theme a lot more. No need to rush through it all, right? Success doesn’t happen overnight and Relaxed Leaders are developed over time, not pumped out like widgets on an assembly line.
Hopefully you’ll stay on this journey with me – and maybe invite some of your friends and coworkers too. (Hint, hint!) But if you decide to look elsewhere for sage advice, I wouldn’t blame you one bit. I’m no sage. (I’m not even a guru.) I’m just the guy in the office down the hall who people often go to when they need a different perspective (and maybe a little advice).
But who knows? Maybe that’s exactly what more people need.
If you have any topics you’d like me to tackle, go ahead and tell me about them in the Comments section below this post. I have plenty of ideas I plan to share but I’d also like to be responsive to my readers and create the content you want and need.
So take a minute and let me know what you’d be most interested in and I’ll get it queued up for a future post!