I got one of those lovely letters from the Homeowners Association that no one likes to receive. It told me that my driveway was too dirty. And it told me that I needed to clean my driveway. No, really. That is what it said. So, I borrowed a pressure washer from my son and set about the task of cleaning my driveway.
What I saw after the first spray of pressurized water hit the concrete was amazing. That first jet of water took off 19 years of accumulated dirt and gunk that had settled on it over the years. That first swath of high-pressure water took off that gunk and revealed concrete as it must have looked 19 years ago when it was poured and cured. To look at the concrete the day before would never have given me the hint that it was that “dirty.” In fact, I thought the HOA folks were a little crazy. But one look at the “clean” concrete next to the areas that I had not pressure washed yet showed that the concrete had indeed become very dark gray and almost black by comparison to the newly washed section.
This certainly gave me an interesting perspective on things. It made me a little self-reflective. What about my own life? Had I let it get dunked up with many years of accumulated dirt and grime? So, as a reference point, I left a little patch of concrete alone. I did not even get it wet. I wanted to leave it alone. That little dark patch on my driveway is a reminder of what the whole driveway looked like before the pressure washer hit it.
What is the Leadership Lesson?
The leadership lesson is that this is very much akin to one of Covey’s “7 Habits.” He would remind us to sharpen our ax. I would remind us to clean our minds of the gunk and grime that can clutter it and that can take our focus off of the most important things in life.
But that sounds like a “Life Lesson” and not a Leadership Lesson
OK, you got me. Perhaps it is more applicable to our personal, emotional, and Spiritual lives. But, it did remind me that I need to periodically clean up my leadership act. Personally, I have been so busy lately writing my next book, that I haven’t taken the time to be reading and to be building my own skillset when it comes to leadership development. I need to change that. I need to get back to being a reader and follower. I need to look at some of the habits that I have developed lately and compare them to the habits of some folks whose leadership skills and styles I really admire. Are my own skills like that little reference patch on my driveway? Are they in need of some attention just like the “attention” paid to the driveway by that machine that I borrowed from my son?
Are there areas of your leadership that could use a little cleanup?
There are probably some things in each of our areas of leadership that could use a little cleaning. As I reflect on the driveway analogy I can say that none of my cars leaked any oil on the driveway. I have never spilled anything on the driveway to stain it or make it that dirty. It just got that way over time.
The emotionally intelligent and agile leader is self-aware. And that self-awareness will be attuned and therefore aware of when we begin to slip and get a little dirty, grimy, or cluttered.
Let’s commit together to do a little leadership cleanup and put a little shine on some areas of leadership that may have gotten a little dingy over time.