Today I had an occasion to really explore something about myself that I already knew. I knew it, but I didn’t know what to do about it. You see I am nothing if not up front about what I like and don’t like, but I often skip conversations that are not productive. The end result is that the irritation builds and then you have a blow up. I learned that this is really passive aggressive behavior. A shock to me because I have always prided myself on being straight forward. So now that I know this, this is how I can apply it to business.
Be firm, but kind
I am southerner and by default being polite trumps just saying what you feel. You have to tell someone ‘bless your heart’ instead of how you really feel about their terrible idea. What I have learned is that you have to have those terrible idea conversations. You have to be firm, but kind. Tell them nicely that it is a terrible idea.
Recognize your patterns
Often you will hear people say ‘I don’t know how this happened’ or ‘I don’t know how I got here’, when the truth is you do know how it happened. You made it happen. I say this not to point fingers or assign blame, but to point out that often we know what we do in most situations, we just fail to connect the dots. As leaders we don’t have the luxury of burying our heads in the sand. We have to acknowledge our bad habits and then we have to change them before we can effectively lead anyone.
Learn to accept hard truths
Knowing that I have been lighting the dynamite on explosive situations for years is a sobering fact, a fact that doesn’t cast me in the best light. I am a professional, but I have had situations that I wish had ended differently. It doesn’t taste good to have to admit my part in the failure of the relationship, but as a leader you have to accept that you’ve messed up and resolve to do better the next time around. I truly believe that your next step as a leader cannot happen until you look in the mirror and see everything that makes you a terrible leader too.
Being the one at the top isn’t always the best position, but you didn’t sign up for this because it was easy. You signed up for this because you knew that somewhere inside, you were going to do something great. And you did. If you started a company whether it is big or small, a success or a failure you did something great. You were brave enough to try and that’s what that feeling of being an entrepreneur is. It’s being addicted to risk and not being able to live with the option of not trying. Part of facing the risk is facing your mistakes, and I promise you I am along for the ride.