Today, I bring you five quick tidbits about various leadership topics. One is about challenging yourself with new stimuli through meeting new people. Another is about the importance of taking a break. Then I move on to a pretty heavy question about the end of your story. I close with some intriguing anecdotes about humility and attention to small things. My goal today is that one of these leadership tidbits will challenge you to think and see yourself and your world in a new way.
1: Talk with New People
Yesterday morning, I had a wonderful conversation with a new friend. I first met this person in a professional context, but all of our initial communication was by email and telephone. Because we live in the same area we decided to get together for coffee and we chatted about our personal and professional lives for about 90 minutes. For me, it was a wonderful time of discovery. I heard new ideas and perspectives on old and new subjects. My mind was stretched in interesting ways and I was reminded how important it is to connect with new people. When we interact with the same people, day after day, our minds gradually close to new possibilities. New relationships introduce new insights. (For more on this concept see “Skills and Culture of Innovation”.)
2: Take a Break!
One of the reasons I was able to have a conversation with a new friend is that I am on a two-week break from teaching. Leaders should not wait for a break from work to go meet new people, but it was a more convenient time. Taking regular breaks from work is very important. Breaks refresh us emotionally, physically, and mentally. The lack of regular breaks increase the sense of stress and tension and contribute to burnout.
I advocate for frequent short breaks and occasional long breaks. For example, I try to avoid professional activity as well as house projects on Sundays. That’s a day for worship and for being with family and friends. It is also good to take at least one extended break every year. What is “extended”? That is at least a full week with no professional work. I encourage you to go somewhere away from home to experience different inputs and information in life, but the current economy makes that hard. If you stay close to home, change your routine and environment as much as you can during your extended break.
3: Hugo Chavez’s Final Words
As you know, Hugo Chavez died on March 5. NBC News, and other news agencies, reported that his last words were: “I don’t want to die. Please don’t let me die.” Not knowing the man, it’s hard to interpret what that meant, but one of his generals said it was because he loved his country. Really? That seems like a stretch. To me, those words suggest regret and perhaps fear.
If today was your last day, what would you regret in your life? Go address that. It needs to be fixed now because we do not know how many days we have.
Are you afraid to die? Do you know what eternity holds for you? If you want to find out what Jesus taught about eternity and to be certain you will spend the rest of forever experiencing joy, peace, and perfect love, go to NeedHim.org.
4 & 5: Lessons from Pope Francis
The last two leadership tidbits come to us courtesy of the Roman Catholic Church’s new pope, Pope Francis. What little I’ve heard about him so far is quite impressive. He appears to be a “regular guy” and has the potential to inspire millions to reinvigorate their faith. Let’s pray he draws many people to a personal relationships with Jesus.
One of the most frequent comments about Pope Francis, is that he is a humble man. My favorite Pope Francis humility story comes from a scene that occurred shortly after his installment as pope. The cardinals were boarding buses to travel to their hotel and there were separate, special arrangements for Pope Francis. However, he told the transportation team, “I’ll just go with the guys on the bus.” Describing this scene, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan said, “He’s a wonderful, simple man.” Humility is an essential quality in effective leadership. Would your followers describe you as humble?
I also saw a story about Pope Francis on Fox News regarding his attention to the small things. The new Pope called from Rome back to Argentina to cancel his newspaper subscription. He personally called the newsstand that had been delivering his daily paper for years. He spoke with the owner’s son who thought it was a prank. He told the young man, “Seriously, it’s Jorge Bergoglio, I’m calling you from Rome.” Related to this was a story reported on Fox News television that he collected the rubber bands that came with his daily newspaper delivery. Once a month he gave the rubber bands back to the carrier so he could re-use them. Do you pay attention to the small things, or are you too busy or too big a leader to deal with these matters? Is there any doubt that Pope Francis’ attention to small things has had an impact on people?
I hope that one of the five leadership tidbits above got you to stop and think for a moment. Better yet, I hope that stopping and thinking for a moment will lead to one small action, which will lead to another action. All I care about for now is that you think different. Look at your world different. See yourself different. Ask different questions. Then, once your mind is a little different, act and be different. Be a different leader.