Showing posts with label Lessons for Leaders. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lessons for Leaders. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lessons about Life from My Family Reunion

I come from a big family. I’m the second of six, with one older sister and four younger brothers. With spouses, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, plus my parents who started it all, we now number 31. Last week 25 of us gathered at the Outer Banks of North Carolina for a sensational family reunion.

I was reminded again how important it is to take a break from work and my day-to-day routine…and how lucky I am to belong to a family where love, support and mutual respect are the cornerstones.

Since returning home, I’ve reflected on the many things I appreciate about my family, and  I realize these are the same characteristics you find in great teams with strong leaders. A few thoughts that may apply to your own life…

1. Pitch in and help out even when it’s not your job. Each sibling’s family was responsible for preparing one of the evening meals – no easy task when feeding so many people. It was gratifying to watch how others pitched in to set the table and clean up afterwards, which made the workload less daunting for the responsible individuals.

Insight: You never hear members of a high-performing team say, “That’s not my job.” They’re constantly on the look-out for ways they can help each other.

2. Be willing to get outside your comfort zone to try something new.
One of my relatives brought a karaoke machine and was eager for us to try it out. When I first heard about it, I thought, “Not me. I’m not standing up in front of everyone and making a fool of myself.” But it turned out that my fears were unfounded. What actually happened is that we all stood around facing the screen and we sang together as a group. The more daring ones held the microphone so their voices came across more strongly, while the rest of us sang along and danced to our favorites. It was great fun, and we laughed a lot. 

Insight: At work, keeping an open mind is essential to discovering better ways of doing things. And being flexible about shifting gears or moving in a new direction can lead to an even more positive result than you imagined.

3. Recognize that mistakes are inevitable and get over them quickly.
We rented kayaks for the week. I took one out in the ocean after two family members had seen dolphins up-close the previous day. I was hoping I’d get lucky, too. I maneuvered the kayak successfully through the incoming waves as I paddled out to the open water. And I even calculated what I needed to do to keep the kayak perpendicular to the shoreline as I was coming back in. But I didn’t see the wave coming up behind me. It crashed over me, tossing me into the water and turning the kayak over. One of my brothers swam out to help me. No dolphins and no smooth re-entry for me that day.

Insight: Mistakes are going to happen when a team is working hard to get things done. So when you do make a mistake, the key is to learn what you can from the experience and then let it go. When you beat yourself up for your imperfections, you waste valuable time and energy that could be spent doing something productive.

4. Never underestimate the power of positive role models. My parents are the reason our family shares such a close bond. They set the stage early on by showing us what a loving relationship looks like and teaching us the core values essential to a fulfilling life – integrity,  self-discipline, cooperation and responsibility. It’s heart-warming to see these same ideals reflected in three generations. What a legacy they are leaving this world.

Insight: While the leader does set the tone, every person on a team can have a positive impact on all the other members. Your value-driven words and actions inspire others to respond in kind, creating an environment where people are eager to contribute their best. No matter what your position, it's possible for your behavior to make a positive, lasting impression on everyone who interacts with you.