This past week I was impacted by a great quote and a challenging leadership question. I’ve not been able to stop thinking about either of them all week. Both of them will stay with me forever and have become a part of my growth as a leader.
The quote came from an audio teaching by author and CEO John Maxwell. He was discussing the books that have marked his life and sharing his insights from these books. He shared a quote from one of his favorite books, As a Man Thinketh, by James Allen.
“Men are anxious to improve their circumstances but are unwilling to improve themselves. They therefore remain bound.”
This quote hit me right in the gut and immediately brought to mind how many times I am guilty of this type of thinking. I want my income to increase, sales to be up, marriage to improve, relationships to be stronger, but am I willing to first work on improving myself? Am I willing to look at my own faults and where I need improvement so that I can contribute more to the situation and not take away.
This quote reminded me I need to take an inventory of what I am doing to improve myself and bring more value and purpose to the people I love, lead and serve.
If that quote wasn’t challenging enough, later in the week I was faced with this great question from one of my mentors, author and CEO, Mike Hyatt. I was reading a past blog post by Mike where he recalled a challenging conversation regarding performance, results, and personal responsibility. Mike’s boss asked him about his production results and why he and his team did not reach certain goals. Mike started off by listing various external reasons such as the economy and said that at least they were doing better than last year.
Does this type of conversation sound familiar? It does for me. What came next was a question that only a leader dedicated to personal development and results could ask. Mike’s boss asked him,
“What is it about your leadership that led to this outcome?”
Ouch! The question hit me like a ton of bricks. I had a hard time concentrating on anything the rest of the day. Every conversation I entered, email I wrote, or interaction with someone I was thinking about this question in the back of my mind. I’m still processing the answer, to be honest, but here is what I’ve concluded so far.
It was another tough year for many real estate firms and sales associates. My team and I were not immune to the struggling market. For the past twelve months though I’ve been doing a lot of complaining about external factors like the tight credit market, depreciating home prices, the short sale process, and the number of foreclosed homes on the market. I’ve been privately blaming the market and others, even my own team for their lack of follow-through and discipline when it comes to prospecting and staying in touch with past clients to ask for referrals.
I’ve done very little soul searching and evaluation of my own leadership style. It bothers me that I would never have thought to ask myself this question. I am asking it of myself now though and it’s brutal. I’ve done many things right but I’ve definitely not done everything I could do to be a leader that produces better results. I’m sharing this question and my reaction with you not to bear my soul and tell you everything I’ve failed to do. Rather, my goal is to have you ask yourself the same question as it relates to your work and your personal relationships in life.
As you start to answer the question and identify areas of improvement, remember to document everything. Make a list of the key improvements you need to work on this quarter with your team, your clients, or in a personal relationship. Develop action plans under each key area and begin to execute.
Let’s all work towards improving ourselves and being able to answer with certainty how our leadership and actions this year led to the achievement of not only our goals but the goals of others we love, lead, and serve.
Make it a great day!