You may see this statement a lot but what does it really mean? Does it mean that others are “broken”? No. It means that we lead our lives as an example for others to follow. We allow ourselves to be a service to others – to make their lives better – as team mates in the game of life. We all connected – in business and life and therefore our actions ripple out.
Last summer, I was going through old files and cleaning out the office and came across one of the worst partnership contracts I have signed in my career of 20 plus years. I think most of us can relate, we have business dealings we wish we could take back and I know I do. This was one that I wish I could do over. However, when I look back at this deal, I look at how it made me better rather than focus on the negatives of the situations.
As I looked back on the partnership, I contemplated the lessons that were taught through this experience. It was not easy at first since I was still very angry at the former partner and his actions. Not at what he had done to me personally, but the cost of his actions to others. He didn’t live up to his word and he let down others. He didn’t make others better, rather, he over committed himself and didn’t take accountability for his actions. It was the opposite of “make others better” To this day, I still wonder if he realizes the fallout of his actions. I have never heard from him – no apology, no payment of the debt. Nothing. But I moved on.
As I moved forward, I focused on the lessons. How did this with him make me better? What was my lesson? I came away with three points that validated my experience with this person:
Since this experience, I learned where to put my line in the sand. I learned where I needed to define my own boundaries and simplify my process. I cut through the “crap” so to speak and stop allowing others to dictate my course. I found myself so frustrated with this former partner that I discovered it wasn’t him, it was me. I allow him to drive the bus when in fact I should have putting down the rules of the road.
When you define your own boundaries – you set the table for others to know where and how you will operate. This allows you control – to know when to say “Yes” to the right projects, tasks. This also eliminated or migitated excuses from others. You have less room for others to give you excuses for their lack of commitment when you have the boundaries in place.
With my former partner – emails, phone calls were very time consuming – in fact, when I deleted all the emails – over 7000 – I realize that some of this was just petty BS that didn’t need to be discussed. Mostly, due to his ADHD, I had a pretty good idea of how to communicate project tasking in a streamline way of ensuring he was on task and understood the immediate needs for the projects at hand, however, I did allow “email” creep to set in and there was WAY too many emails from him on other subjects that didn’t pertain to tasking. When you are clear in your communication, you leave little room for over communication or under communication. Especially if you are dealing with a team member or partner virtually. Your communication must be concise and on point. Take the time to really ensure your message is understood and on point – even if it means you need to pick the phone. There are just some things that do not translate in emails.
And lastly, I know what it means to be a leader, I’ve always known and I follow my purpose without allowing someone to silence me because their own insecurity and petty ego has been their own issues for too long. I found the ability to let my voice be heard – and not let others silence me. In 20 years – in corporate world – I never once had this issue – but this experience taught me that I needed to speak up and stand at the front of the pack.
In fact – this experience led me to start #bealeader and GingerConsulting. So you could say that my partner made me better by going away.
As leaders, we must strive to ensure to make others better by encouraging others to find their own voice, not holding them back because we fear their capability or wisdom. To make others better means we are holding ourselves to our word, our truth and being honorable in all that we do. Sometimes, we can make others better in spite of what we are doing, even if we are not the best ourselves, we influence others as was the case for me with this person. He didn’t realize just what he unleashed with his negative energy. To be a better leader, we must be a leader who believes we are making others better in a positive way.
I am forever grateful to “Bakes” for the lessons he gave me…and I encourage you to make others better in your leadership and life as well.