Learning from experience – it is something we all do, though some do it far better than others. In order to learn from what has already happened, we must step back and reflect to find those lessons. This coming Friday, I will celebrate 33 years of marriage to my amazing wife, Lori. As we prepare to celebrate, I have been reflecting, thinking about what I have learned from this experience. Here, I will share a small part of that learning, tied to us all as leaders.
Stay Focused on the Big Things
In any marriage, there will be problems, trials, and challenges. To overcome them, you must maintain perspective and see the big picture. When you know what matters most, like your values, beliefs, and, overall goals, you have a compass and source of strength when things get hard. And the strongest marriages are those where the two people act as one – bringing the best of themselves but supporting and encouraging the other in those tough and challenging moments.
As leaders, we must keep this same perspective and share it with the team. If no one keeps the big picture in mind, chaos and conflict will likely reign and win.
Little Things Aren’t Always Little
It may seem paradoxical to say, “Focus on the big things, but the little things matter too,” but that is life. When I attend to the little things with Lori, like helping with (or doing) the dishes, frequent hugs and kisses, and picking up my socks, it shows her that I am thinking about more than myself. While the big picture keeps us grounded, life is lived in the little things. When I know what those meaningful little things are, and do them, it changes everything for the better.
As a leader, do you know what the little things are? Without knowing your team or situation, I can give you a starter list. Encourage people. Smile. Say good morning. Show that you care about them and their family. Know their birthday. (Hey, that is a pretty good list for your spouse too!)
People sometimes talk about marriage being about meeting in the middle or that it is a 50/50 proposition. I disagree. If you want your marriage to be successful, it must be a 100/100 proposition. Both parties must be 100% engaged and committed. If not, when things get hard, it will be even harder, and the odds that one person or the other will be ready to give up and tap out increase.
Much is written about employee engagement, and too much of it is written about what leaders can do to create it. Like any relationship though, the responsibility for engagement sits squarely with both the leader and the team members. If you want greater engagement, ask for it, expect it, and of course, offer it yourself.
I know this is a fourth lesson. After we determined the title, and Erica created the lovely image at the top of the page, I decided I needed to share this fourth lesson. Consider it a bonus.
Less communication is seldom better. I know there are times that Lori would prefer I stop talking. Being more introverted, she sometimes needs to process and not talk, but this doesn’t change the point. We don’t need to be in continual conversation, but the communication must continue and be ongoing, sharing both concerns and well as things to celebrate. This may seem obvious, but when I look at fractured and damaged relationships, there is no doubt that a lack of communication is at least part of the problem.
Do I really need to remind us as leaders about the importance of communication? Apparently, I do, because I see leaders every day that need to get better at it and do more of it. Create ways to open the lines of communication. Share what you know when you can share it. Ask people what they think. As you become a better communicator, you will become a better leader.
Before I close, I have to say that I’ve made lots of mistakes and have been far from the perfect husband. I’ve messed up in each of these four ways many times. Yet if we are honest, we would all say that about ourselves as leaders too. In both roles, the best we can do is stay devoted to a path of improvement. When you do that, and apply the lessons I shared above, your future will look bright and blessed.
Each week, I pull lessons from life experiences and my work with clients to create Remarkable TV – a short, hopefully entertaining and informative video on a specific lesson or idea. You can see them all on my blog, on YouTube, or you can listen to them, released on Fridays on The Remarkable Leadership Podcast, subscribe where ever you get your podcasts, or on your Alexa speaker.
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