I had a conversation with a complete stranger over the phone the other day that gave me an epiphany of sorts. While we working through some work related issues (she was working on a help desk in a contact center) we began small talking. I found out the help desk was located in the same city as my beloved college Alma mater, Lawrence Kansas. I mentioned to her that both my wife and I were alumni and that my oldest son had already been accepted there. She mentioned to me that she and her husband had their first child who was now 2 years old. We began talking about Thanksgiving and the holiday season in general. Then it happened!
We spoke about how my boys had progressed to the age where they understood about Santa and weren't as impressed with all of the lights as they used to be. She stated that her son was in complete awe of all of the lights and joy of this time of year. We talked a little more but I had the greatest parenting/leadership lesson I have ever received. When her son goes somewhere, his innocence and trust is placed with his parents that they will introduce him to positive new experiences. It's like seeing the warm feelings that come over people the first time they see all the candles on a menorah lit up, or when a trail of lights is seen for the first time, a child is in awe. As a parent, we often forget that life sometimes has jaded us, and we take for granted life's little experiences. Our kids lives are full of firsts on a daily basis, especially when they are young.
As a leader, we often find ourselves making decisions but forgetting about the development aspect of a decision. Critical thinking and evaluation lead to confident, well thought out decisions. The most critical aspect of thinking and evaluation is experience and the outcomes of past decisions. Just like a child seeing a holiday light for the first time or receiving a surprise gift, our teams are filled with the same awe when they see the results of their hard work.
For whatever reason, this year is a special year for me personally and professionally. I have seen my children grow into solid young men; I have seen the team I lead more than double our customer base and become significantly more efficient; I have seen every team member extend and develop in some way. It has been fun to be able to sit back and watch others talk about what has been developed with appreciation and allow each team member to celebrate their individual accomplishments.
It is easy for us to see how success and failure through our own lenses. It is far more rewarding to see life through someone else's eyes though. Be the encourager, the guide, the resource for others and remember it's not all about you. This is easy to say, harder to do. If you make the effort everyone wins!
Have a great week and an even better holiday season!