There are many maps in life. Of traveled roads. Processes to follow. Paths forged by those that have gone before us.
We all follow maps. What else is the GSP for, but to help us get from one point to another with limited time and disruption?
There is comfort and familiarity in following a map and guiding others along a known path. Yet there is limited challenge and growth in following the same steps, the same way, to the same destination.
Find Ways to Build Your Own Map
Professionally, there are opportunities to build our own maps. We don’t all have to be an entrepreneur, building the next best thing. But we can bring an entrepreneurial spirit to our teams, our work, and our development.
Every day rich with opportunities to improve. Listening for “we’ve always done it this way” is a quick way to find them. Turn the old way on its head and challenge those around us to find a new approach.
Maybe the opportunities are not around us, but within. Considering our career progression and development as another map – is there an alternate way to get to where we want?
Look for Detours to Build Experience
Traveling in a straight, defined line is expedient. However, there is limited experience to be gained along the way. What do you learn traveling on a highway, with thousands of others?
Experience is gained by creating detours. Taking the unexpected turn. Maybe it’s a new role, completely unrelated to anything we’ve done before. Or a new hobby (photography, writing or furniture building anyone?).
By the time we’re done, our map may look like spaghetti. It may not be the most efficient or effective way to get to our destination. But it will be experience-rich.
Get Uncomfortable to Get Challenged
At first, it may be uncomfortable going off established roads. Away from defined paths and plans. Building maps does not mean going in blind and unprepared for our journey. We take our previous experience, tools and knowledge, and apply it in new ways.
Warning – Once you’ve gone off-road, and had your first challenge defining a new way of doing things, you’ll want to do it again. The initial discomfort stops many. Once you get past that, you won’t want anything else but to become a map-builder.
If you’ve taken the leap and started building your own map, resist the urge to compare yourself to others. To turn back to what’s known. We are each on our own journey. Let them follow the well-trodden path. Go kick ass on the one you’re building.
We have limited minutes available to us each day. However, each of us has the same amount of time. The difference is in how we choose to spend it.
If we are committed to continued improvement of our leadership performance, some amount of time each day must be directed to those activities. Luckily, improving ourselves does not have to take a lot of time, only intention and a few minutes of focus.
Whether you carve out dedicated time each day, or have an ad hoc approach to finding time when and where you can, here is a leadership development bucket list of ideas to maximize 2, 5, 10 or 30 minutes.
2 Minutes – Mental Reboot
A thank you card will take little time, but the impact is lasting.
Often, we can get caught up in what’s going on around us and lose sight of what’s important. If you only have a minute or two, focus on rebooting your thinking.
Over the holidays, our family went to Disney World for the first time. It was a great trip. Tons of rides and character greets. And the kiddo had fun too.
The highlight of the trip was the opportunity to check off a bucket list item…meeting Darth Vader.
It was completely overwhelming and all too realistic. The breathing. The voice. The call to the dark side. It was slightly terrifying and completely awesome.
Most people I know are familiar with my fascination. One of my newer team members, overhearing conversations about the trip, wondered…why do I love Darth Vader?
After all, he’s a villain. He terrorizes his children, kills millions, and has no conscience or signs of remorse.
Exactly. But that’s not how he started.
Darth Vader started out like any of us. A promising child. Moderately whiny teenager (who wasn’t). Skilled employee.
He was highly capable, independent and strong willed. All things you hope for in your rising talent. At least until he was lured to the dark side and turned on his leaders, co-workers and friends.
Darth Vader is a warning of what any of us could become if we feed our fears. All the promise and talent in the world doesn’t mean much if we use it for ill purpose.
Ever since I started this writing journey, Star Wars has been a part of it.
With the new movie, there are new stories, characters and learnings to absorb and share. Good and bad examples of how to lead ourselves and others.
If you have not seen the movie, and plan to, please stop here. It’s been a month and the initial frenzy has passed. Go, enjoy, and I’ll see you afterwards.
If you’re still with me…what a ride! For me, the movie was reminiscent of the originals I grew up with, yet still offered a fresh story of heroes and villains.
Watching the movie (again and again), I was struck by how much the paths of both character types were influenced by mentors. By the resulting impact mentors can have on our choices and development.
Last week, my husband and I were headed to a belated holiday party. On the way, he insisted on stopping by a convenience store to buy a lottery ticket. Because “you can’t win if you don’t play.”
I don’t follow the lottery and hadn’t realized the jackpot was nearing a billion dollars. I told him to buy two, so we’d each have a ticket.
We started joking about what could be done with the winnings. A friend of his planned to buy motorcycles for their racing team. We talked about investments and what it would take to avoid the risk of blowing through all that money.
It got me thinking about the dreams we all have. Whether it’s winning the lottery, getting promoted, or having a family. While an article I saw said we’d be more likely to get attacked by a shark than win the lottery, and I’m certainly not encouraging folks to gamble, one thing is certain. You cannot win if you don’t buy a ticket.
Our life plans are the same. If we don’t take action, none of our dreams will come true. What we want doesn’t just land in our laps. Success takes action – we have to work for it.
We’re a few weeks into January, when many of us who made plans for this year will start letting them go by the wayside. The hard work of the first few weeks starts to fade away…which means our goals and dreams do as well.
I’d encourage you to dust them off. We might not be able to maintain January’s high energy throughout the year, but making forward progress is better than none. Keep going. The only way to get to where you want – to achieve your definition of success at work or life – is to take those steps.