In this weeks Leadership Lessons from Europe, let’s look at starting the journey to great leadership by working on being a better person. First we talk about our attitude and then we finish up by shedding some light on a common, yet not-so-useful, habit.
Becoming a Better Person in Gibraltar: Grey Clouds
Gibraltar is a small British territory that is located at the southern end of the Iberian peninsula and is most famous for its rock. The rock is technically defined as a mountain because it produces clouds as the warm air sweeps across the cooler air at the top. However, that means that there is almost always a grey cloud hovering over the mountain.
How many of us live our lives that way?
Are you one of those people who always has a grey cloud above you? If you are not, you almost certainly know someone who does!
It’s the person that, when you say “what a beautiful day!”, they reply “Yeah, I’ll probably get skin cancer from the sun.”
Nothing seems to bring them joy; they always see the dark side of every situation. While it’s great to have a devil’s advocate at certain times (such as when looking at the risks of a project), it is tiresome to deal with that constantly!
In my post Response Ability, I talk about letting your responsibilities hinder your ability to respond. We humans should always choose our responses to the events that happen.
The leadership lesson here is let your behavior be a conscious choice and not some pre-programmed response.
Becoming a Better Person at the Tower of London: Don’t Torture Yourself
The Tower of London is a castle in London founded in 1078 and was used as a prison at one time. It is most famous as the site for many executions, particularly of royalty.
Surprisingly, there were only 48 instances in history where torture was sanctioned by the reigning monarch. Everything from the rack (talk about personal growth…) to crushing someone in a device like a nutcracker; the Tower was known and feared for it’s inventiveness in physical torture.
That’s not the type of torture that I’m talking about, though. I’m talking about the mental anguish that we love to put ourselves through.
I’m totally guilty of this. Make one mistake at work (like forgetting the box of markers, sticky notes, and card stock), and I can’t let it go. I beat myself up. My boss doesn’t even HAVE to mention it to me, because I bring it up on my own! Palm to forehead, “Why am I so stupid?!? I’ve taught hundreds of classes, and I forget the box of supplies? Rookie Move, Forest!” And the internal flogging continues…
In his book Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up, Dr. Neff claims that this is because our inner critic believes that it is doing what is necessary in order to ensure our success and safety. It is an evolutionary survival mechanism that ensured that, if we were lucky enough to survive a mistake, we ought not push our luck by making that mistake again.
The leadership lesson here is don’t ruminate over mistakes! Own up, fix it, apologize if you did somebody wrong, and move on. You will be modelling good behavior and you will free up your mental reserves for more important work.
Alas, I’m out of room again, so the saga continues next week…
Leaving you with this from the lighter side: “How shall I torture you today? The rack? Boiling oil? Make you call tech support?”