If Every Day Was A New Day
This month I have had the opportunity to spend some quality time at the largest military maritime exercise in the world. If there is anything consistent about coordinating over 50 ships from 22 countries, it is how important the ability to communicate becomes in such an operating environment. My piece of the show involves working in an operation center with many of those countries, so each day is an opportunity to take the lessons of the day before, and discard the unpleasant things that happened. Which brings me to leadership, not surprisingly.
One of the most important opportunities you will have at the office (whatever and wherever your office may be) is your ability to start over each day in terms of your expectations of others, your commitment to their improvement, and your willingness to just move on from things that didn’t go well. Conversely, the inability to do this on a consistent basis in most cases will define those who lead from those who will likely be led (with difficulty) for their entire careers. Successful leaders invest in relationships for the long haul, and not for the day. From that perspective, it should be impossible to damage a relationship in one day with a good leader, no matter how hard you tried.
One of the constants of working in the field of human services, especially law enforcement, is the ability over time to remember people, places, and things. Knowing how things happen, why people make the decisions they do, and anticipating future behavior based on past action is the foundation of turning from a new face to a learned veteran in that field. However, that foundation of knowledge in which all people new to the street or the field are struggling every day to advance can be a tremendous Achilles heel when we apply it inwardly to our own teams. A leader simply must reload and refresh with the team every day, and demonstrate by example that they are capable of belief in the power of change.
There are a number of things that get in the way of walking through the door to a new place each day you get there. Being around a sea of negativity is difficult for even the most forgiving of people, as is avoiding joining the hog wallow of complaining around the water cooler. It is not unusual to believe that being able to spread poison and unhappiness involves the same dynamic as spreading optimism and confidence. Of course, if you are unhappy, the negative people in the office will be like a magnet for you. From my observation, unhappy people seem generally angry about being reminded of all the opportunities out there and will actually fight you about it. Sometimes being miserable is a warm (but wet) blanket that provides a measure of comfort to those who wear it.
Sometimes letting go involves confronting that your goals may have changed. Or potentially more troubling, that you have no goals at all. Things change, lives move along in directions you didn’t expect, and that frustrated confused drama playing out in your head may mean you need to go back to the Goals Table and re-evaluate your situation. Welcome to life. And, if you never stopped by the Goals Table in the first place, welcome to Dandelion Land, population: You. No matter which way the wind blows, you either drift along with it, or dig in and resist for no reason other than stubbornness.
Moving forward is tough, as your reasons make extremely good sense, to you. Leaders however, understand and accept that they are masters of tomorrow. They will accept the truths that are around them, and enjoy and appreciate the things that are positive in life and career. Leaders always know what the next positive move is for them and they focus on it with intensity. Leaders also know that it is their responsibility to bring a positive approach into the game every single day, root the hogs out of the wallow, put out the helmet fires, and write their own destiny.