Our experiences shape who we are.
Have you ever reflected on what makes you the leader you are today? As I look back, I have plenty of “real life” experiences — and there are times when experiential learning had a tremendous impact on my growth.
As I reflected on the leadership lessons which had the greatest impact on me, two came immediately to mind:
Leadership Lesson #1:
- During my very first management course, the instructor had us all stand in a circle and said, “Try to pull your hands apart.” We all clasped our hands together and strained to separate them. He then said, “Pull your hands apart.” We all let go immediately. He paused for a moment, making eye contact with each of us, and said “The brain doesn’t recognize the word try.” Valued Lesson: When I use the word try, I am not committed to what I’m saying and/or doing.
Leadership Lesson #2:
- Midway through my career I had a horse as my leadership “coach”. Imagine five people sandwiched together acting as one body trying to get a bridle on a horse. Lumbering forward, we approached the horse who shied away as we followed him around the arena. Being the shortest of the five, I was in front; and, after some time, things dissolved into laughter. When that happened, the horse stopped retreating, came up and nudged my chest, allowing us to put on the bridle. We won the challenge. Valued Lesson: Bring lightness into difficult tasks.
We tend to run on autopilot. Most of us don’t take the time to reflect on why we do the things we do. There is value in exploring the why. When we take the time to reflect, we may discover not only lessons we choose to value but also others we choose to let go. Nothing is wasted. Every experience — successful or not — shapes us. Find the value in the lesson.
This Week’s Challenge: Take a walk outside and reflect on what has contributed to making you the leader you are today. Think about the lessons you value. How did they contribute to your growth? Which do you choose to live by? What can you model for others through example? Life is a learning lab. Experiment.
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