Leaders Block the Mess

Suburban backyard with pergola, trees, and other homes

Perhaps I need a better title for this week’s article. May I be honest? I’m a little off my game at the moment. In the last year, my father passed away, I physically moved from Connecticut to Nebraska to Chicago, started up two different million + square foot distribution centers, changed job 3 times, and married off a son. I’m actually really good at dealing with change and ambiguity, but even for me, this last year has been a wild ride. Almost too much. Almost.

This morning on the way home from church, I was thinking about the challenges of life. Someone whom I don’t even know made a comment about a significant trial she’d experienced in the last week. And it got my brain rolling. Trials. Life. Messes. Challenges. Obstacles. She’s not the only one with trials. Know what I mean? I have ‘em, don’t you?

Sometime life seems easy. Like sitting on the deck after lunch on a sunny Sunday afternoon listening to the birds sing and watching children play. Yet at other times, life is anything but easy. We experience pain, death, sadness, broken relationships, tough bosses, an economic downturn, sickness, gossip, hate, financial pressure, and so on.

In the last week alone, I’ve had conversations with people who were struggling with their job, experiencing financial pressure, on the short-end of a challenging relationship, fighting depression, lonely, tired, broken-hearted, and sad. And you know what? This week was no different than any other week.

If you talk with people, really talk, AND listen, you know that many are hurting. An optimist by nature, I like to focus on the good around me, the good in people, and hope. But there is another part of the human experience. Toil. Heart-ache. Storms. Trials. Sadness. Loneliness. Confusion. War.

And while sitting on my deck, I also thought about hope and leadership. Great leaders bring hope and they help block the mess. They help filter out the noise, the distractions, and the naysayers.

As always, this message is as much (if not more) for me than it is for you. It’s a reminder that I need to act as a buffer and minimize the negative impact of the storm for those I lead. It’s a reminder that I need to bring a message of hope while blocking the mess of life. It’s a reminder that I need to reduce the noise and help others focus on progress and success.

Great parents, coaches, teachers, and executives block the mess from those they serve. It’s part of servant leadership. It’s part of wearing the mantle. It’s part of role. It’s not easy and it may seem, at times, thankless but it comes with the job. Regardless of your leadership role, block the mess for those on your team, in your organization, and in your family. Block the mess so they can focus on the task at hand, experience hope, and enjoy your support. Block the mess so they can sleep at night, be creative, and know peace.

Hope you have a great week. If you have someone who blocks the mess for you, be thankful. You’re blessed. Remember to thank them. And if you’re in a position of leadership, are you blocking the mess for others?

PS: If you have a better title for this week’s article, please let me know.

Dr. Robert Gerwig is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]LeadStrategic.com.

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