Perhaps this article today will deal more about life than about leadership. But, who knows? I am just going to let my thoughts flow and see where they take me. Hang on. Here we go!
Comparisons Can Be a Trap
One of the things that I have learned in life is to find a way to be content in whatever circumstance I find myself. However, every once in a while, I allow myself to fall victim to comparisons. I compare what I have (which is a lot by global standards) with that one person that I know that has that one thing that I would like to have. I compare my stuff to his stuff and I determine that I need more stuff.
Leaders Also Fall Into This Trap
Sometimes we look around and we see that someone we know is really gifted with a particular leadership skill or trait. It is one that we wish we had as well. We compare ourselves and we become dissatisfied. Or worse, we become jealous. At best, it keeps us constantly looking for that one leadership book or seminar that will give us that leadership “mojo” that will surely make us a great leader.
I am currently reviewing an article soon to be published by a very talented organizational health and growth coach who is working out in the real world what he also teaches in the academic world. The opening paragraph of his article recounts his recent “Google” (it is a verb, don’t you know?) of the term “leadership.” He got almost 800 million hits!
Why is that?
I think it is because leaders are always looking for resources that will cause breakout change and growth in their leadership abilities or for the organization that they lead. I hope this is true as I will soon be adding a new book on the topic of how emotional intelligence factors into a leaders performance or success.I am hoping that the world needs 800,000,001 resources and I will be that one!
I Thought This Was About Perspective
It is! Or at least it is for me. I have recently had my perspective altered by another business trip to India. India is a great country. It has a great heritage and it certainly has great potential. But, an article in the daily newspaper last week jolted me into a new perspective.
A young boy, the same age as my oldest grandson, died in the city of Bangalore when he fell into an open pit that was used as an outdoor toilet by his “neighborhood”. He got too close to the edge of the pit and fell to his death. Just barely 8 years old and he is gone. He died because he needed to relieve himself and there is not indoor toilet in his home.
Perspective — I have a grandson his age. He is not in danger of falling to his death because he needed to go “potty.” That’s perspective I didn’t have one week ago. Or if I did, it was a faint perspective.
Perspective — I was anxious because I did not like my seat on the final leg of my journey home. Never mind that I am able to come home 2 days early. Nope, focus on the seat that is not perfect.
Perspective — There are very old men and women performing casual and manual labor every day in the streets of the city. Some of them have not been paid for months. Yet they work every day. And I am trying to determine if 60 or 62 is the right age for me to retire to a life of relative ease.
Perspective — There are several construction sites that I passed every morning on my way to the office this past two weeks. At one of the sites, there was a woman wearing full construction work clothes (reflective vest, hard hat, gloves, eye protection, etc.) who was carrying bricks to a bricklayer while holding an infant on her hip.
What is the Leadership Lesson Here?
I think the obvious leadership lesson is that we need to put our leadership into perspective and work on maximizing our strengths, minimizing our shortcomings, and avoid the comparison trap. But maybe there is a more important life lesson here. And maybe that lesson is that we don’t have a full view and complete perspective on ourselves if we only focus on what we lack rather than what we have. I believe that the right perspective leads to a life of contentment.