A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Before I started the leadership journey, I was doing a lot of just that. Wasting a lot of my time and mind focusing on the immediate, the unimportant, the routine tasks that certainly were not going to make a significant difference in creating, influencing, or advancing the strategic mission and goals of the university.
Today’s Tuesday Reading, I Met A Leader Today, is an essay by Mary Fuller, originally written as a reflection early in the University of Nebraska on-campus leaders program. Mary is a member of the Data Warehouse Team of the University of Nebraska Computing Services Network.
After graduation in August I was armed with a binder full of new ideas, concepts, practices and formulas on how to be an effective leader. I found it easy to be intentional during the program which was fueled by my own enthusiasm and frequent and very useful check-ins from my coaches. New actions and practices became part of my routine and clearly validated what we had learned during our sessions together. I was feeling good and well on my way to being a more effective leader! Transformed and my mission accomplished!!
Before the winter break, I spent some time considering who would make a great example of leadership for my reflection. I kept coming back to the idea of describing my friend David, who was once a colleague of mine at another university. Over the years, we’ve kept in touch on a regular basis, and kept up with each other’s professional journeys. My work used to intersect with his department frequently, and we had long ago developed a habit of seeking each other’s constructive feedback.
At the end of October, I returned to my alma mater, Earlham College, for homecoming festivities, Alumni Council meetings, and related events. What really struck me about the extended weekend was how the theme of “connections” was constantly evident.
I am constantly looking for new leadership lessons. When I am a student or trainee, I observe how the instructor structures the class, presents information, and keeps the room engaged. As a sports fan, I pay attention to how a coach organizes the team, creates energy toward a shared goal, and adapts to change. Over the last year, I have had one of the richest opportunities as my wife and I began raising our first child, Winnie, who recently turned one.
What did I do and learn? What do I plan to do?
My reflection is around a change in behavior and stretching out of my comfort zone. Feedback is truly the gift that keeps giving. I was given an opportunity to apply what I had learned shortly after MOR Session 1 (ready or not). This opportunity presented itself the day after I returned to the office in fact! Thankfully I was better focused, refreshed and better prepared with new ideas and self-prompted different ways of thinking that allowed me to respond in a different way than I normally would.
We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak. – Epictetus, Greek philosopher, ~ 100 AD