LEAD, FOLLOW OR GET OUT OF THE WAY!

Unique Leadership Axiom: You define your place in the organization by  deciding to lead, follow, or get out of the way.

November 3, 2008, a week to live in American history.

For me it was a reminder that all barriers to success are internal. The election was decided not by the issues, but by the internals of the candidates.

I have an objective plan for this blog, and I have been working the plan — but this week’s posting didn’t get written on Monday edited on Tuesday and posted on Wednesday.

I had a scheduled meeting with an associate of many years to plan some joint action. The meeting happened, the planning didn’t.

That was the week that was. Why? Because my emotions happened! Like many pet owners I feel almost paralyzing grief at the loss of a beloved pet. That happened on Monday. On Tuesday I went to vote and found that on the entire ballot there was not a single candidate or proposition that I could support. On Wednesday in the meeting with my old friend I muddled through with a bunch of war stories and was not focused on finding a problem to solve.

Again, what happened? Internally I let the barriers dominate. Interior barriers dominate when you are not ready to act decisively in the face of a surprise.

Let me take you back to a party when I was in my 20s. It was at a college gymnasium which had been set up as a dance floor and bandstand. There was a couple dancing in an amazingly beautiful jitterbug fashion while all the rest of us were gathered around the edge of the dance floor watching. We were packed in shoulder to shoulder. There was a guy standing next to me and in front of me a young woman. This guy reached down and pinched her butt! She immediately turned and slapped me so hard that my ears rang. Instantly, blindly, stupidly and violently I decked her!

I was ready to take decisive action. What I did was extremely bad judgment. More important was the absence of an interior barrier against that action.

As we experience life, barriers are built that regulate our external actions. These barriers have both positive and negative influences on our lives. These barriers function to automatically direct the energy of our lives.

On the “why?” Page I said emphatically that the military survives because it is efficient. That does not mean cost-effective. It means competent, prompt and businesslike. But about what? About objectives! About achieving victory both tactically and strategically.

Decking that young lady was prompt, competent and businesslike. But it wasn’t efficient because it failed to achieve victory at any level. I didn’t have a barrier that said responding to an insult by acting brutally is not a victory. I have one now because I had that ugly experience at that dance.

I do have a barrier to using energy for anything but self repair when I’m injured. And grief is a severe injury. So what did I do wrong this week?

First, I should have changed my writing schedule to recognize that I wasn’t going to give my best to a blog post. I should have gotten out of the way of blogging.

Second: in the scheduled meeting failing to plan created bad case of dangling participation

Leader’s Focus: In a new situation, your value is established by your choice to Lead, Follow or Get Out Of The Way. Dangling participation changes the hue of your image… you go from: YOUR IMAGE to: your image.

My Take on Winning: Each new situation is out of control until you make a choice and take action. To take control you choose to lead, follow or get out of the way. These choices are internal. Failing to choose creates internal fear and functional paralysis. The external effect of these choices is to add value to the organization.

This is especially true when the organization is your life.

The Puzzle: For each of us the puzzle is how we build our personal leadership state of mind. For some this is done by considering the events which have not happened deciding what would be the right thing to do. For others it is done by reviewing our actions and approving or disapproving after-the-fact.

Now, what about the week that will be? There is a new situation coming. Be ready to lead, follow, or get out of the way!

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