A useful question for the best leaders

Can we all agree the workplace, and the world, are unfair places? I’ll assume you agree. Bad things happen to good people, and our best efforts are often not recognized or fall painfully short of someone else’s expectations. As I work and train high potential leaders within my client companies, I’ve found a question that is asked everyday by the most impressive of the bunch in order to address those experiences:

How can I use this?

Take a few seconds to say it a couple of times and then think about it. How can I use this? These five words, organized in this way, are at the roots of the most excellent leaders. It’s also important to notice what is not included in those words. Nothing of self-pity, external circumstances dictating how I should feel, finger pointing or judgement of good/bad. It simply incites a person’s genius and encourages action all at the same time.

The skillful leader uses the question above as a major weapon in her arsenal of self-management. We cannot always prevent ourselves from feeling certain emotions like fear, anxiety, anger, doubt, frustration, disappointment or embarrassment. When those feelings emerge, the question I presented above moves to the forefront of a leader’s mind.

The references we attach to our experiences slowly but surely mold who we become. We decide if we will use our freedom each day, or decide who or what will govern us because we are unable to set our own priorities. This question can re-frame ANY experience to accelerate you as a leader.

If you use it, the outcomes could be as follows:

  • Learning something new
  • Finding a way not to do something
  • Finding a development opportunity in an employee
  • Learning who is consistent
  • Experiencing something new
  • Building an underutilized muscle (physically, psychologically or emotionally)
  • Understanding how someone may think or act
  • Realizing I know more than I thought I did
  • Reinforcing the truth that everyone makes mistakes (especially me)
  • Learning who I need to be for different people in my life (spouse, listener, mentor, teacher, friend)

This list could go on for pages, and you should start changing your references for any situation you have titled in the following way: bad, scary, terrible, unfair, disappointing, fearful, worrying, embarrassing, etc.

Take the gift of this question with you as you grow as a leader, and recognize it’s power to re-frame any situation.  Giving you, and those who count on you, power to instantly make any situation work FOR you.

How can I use this?