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Professional Toolbox

by Leadership Participant

A couple of years ago I had my kitchen remodeled.  During the process, I, along with my young boys, reveled in the tools the contractors had at their disposal, and their skill in using them.  They had so many tools – some for general use (hammer) and others more specialized (router) – their truck looked like an aisle at The Home Depot.

Reflecting on my learnings from the Stanford session, it hit me: My professional toolbox, by comparison to the contractor’s, was fairly sparse.  I had a hammer, a screwdriver, and little else.  And I wondered – “how many times have I reached for the same tool over and over again, and used it in response to every problem I needed to solve?”

As I scrolled through the list of twenty tools from Session 1, it occurred to me that these tools, in addition to the hammer and screwdriver I’d become so accustomed to wielding, could produce much better results with less effort if I just learned how to use them.  As a result, I committed to increasing my use of and building greater familiarity with these new tools so that, in time, they won’t be so new, they’ll fit ‘just so’ in my capable hands, and I’ll use them with the same ease as my beloved hammer and screwdriver.

I still use the hammer and screwdriver.  But less so now than before.  I initially thought that I couldn’t afford to take the time to learn these tools.  The fact is, for me to be an effective leader, I can’t afford not to.

Ryan W. Schlagheck
Yale University