Saturday morning I received this quote from Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in one of my inspirational emails,
“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”
I love quotes because they frequently remind me of critical ideas I’ve forgotten. Occasionally they illuminate ideas that I’d not thought of.
In this case it reminded me of why I love coaching. Why I loved being a sales manager, and a general manager in radio. In coaching, when you see the people you work with achieve great things, success they may not have imagined themselves capable of months or years before, it feels “unbelievable!”
As a leader or manager. you know that feeling.
If it just happens to be something you help them with, perhaps something you taught them, but especially if it helped them to see the “light” that is inside of them, then the feeling is not only unbelievable it is profoundly unbelievable.
Suddenly the hours and hours you’ve spent encouraging and nurturing someone all makes sense. It’s why you do what you do.
Absent that feeling, there’s no joy, fulfillment or reason to do what we do.
This blog is a reminder on your responsibility as a leader and manager.
I’m going to make an assumption. The assumption is: One of the reasons you are driven to be a leader or manager is sometime earlier in your life, in school, at home or in your career, you had someone take an interest in you. They saw your potential. They helped you become who you are today. They nurtured and supported you. Encouraged you in those times you were discouraged. Had faith in you, and found ways to develop and extract the capacity and capability you were unaware of existed within you.
In my life there have been several. Perhaps no one more important than a basketball coach who pushed me and had faith in me in my sophomore and junior years in high school.
I was a lousy basketball player in grade school. In the 6th grade I can remember being embarrassed to play on the C team. I was tall and even scoring the most points in one of those contests felt like failure. That feeling pushed me to practice more. I had a brother who was a year and nine months older than me who pushed me as well. He would be someone who always believed in me as well.
By the time I reached high school I was 6’4”. As the tallest person in the school at that time a lot of people looked up to me. Our junior varsity team was fortunate to win 8 games. That was impressive however since our Varsity was in the midst of losing 36 games in a row. They were laughable. After the basketball season ended, most of us would play pickup games in the gym when the school would allow it. In those games my coach would be there encouraging the team I played on to get the ball inside. It was a formula that he would repeat with urgency and frequency once the fall came and basketball season began in earnest.
As a freshman I averaged 8 points a game. As a sophomore now on varsity I averaged 16 points a game, despite the dramatic increase in the competition I faced. This was due to the increasing demand my coach placed on getting the ball inside. We broke that 36 game losing streak with three sophomores starting. And even though we only won 3 games, by the end of the year there was new hope that things were going to get measurably better. The following year with this same emphasis of getting the ball inside, my scoring average increased to 24 points a game. We finished third in our conference winning 14 games, with my scoring average leading the conference.
While I’d made a vow to practice basketball one hour every day, there’s no way to measure the impact my coach had on my increased ability to score and play well within our team framework. His faith, his belief in my ability to perform even when the pressure was on, helped me to exceed any intentions or beliefs I had for myself.
In The #1 Key to Successful Managing - Google’s Management Study we shared Google’s discovery the best managers have one on one coaching meetings with their direct reports.
Who are the people you are nurturing? Who are the people you believe in? Who are you supporting, encouraging, coaching and teaching how to improve. Who have you discovered has a rich ore of untapped potential, that only needs to mined, tapped and polished to achieve their unlimited possibilities?
All of us need a nudge! Every one of us is living within our capacity and capabilities of achievement.
Perhaps you’ve heard the story Acres of Diamonds by Russell Conwell. I remember listening to it on an audio tape by Earl Nightingale. In its essence the story shares how looking outside yourself for riches is futile, you must begin where you are with who and what you are.
Who can you coach up to discover their Acres of Diamonds within them?
In Good to Great, Jim Collins notes, The Hedgehog Concept is a turning point in the journey from good to great. Good to great. How serious are you in becoming great? The Hedgehog Concept requires a severe standard of excellence. It’s not just about building on strength and competence, but about understanding what your organization truly has the potential to be the very best at and sticking to it. We’ll explore how to discover and work on understanding this. Provided you’re interested in having your business become truly great.