Life lessons from the Good Leader

I often plan my blog posts, a lot more than this one, yet I find myself writing it anyway. 2016 has been an enormous year for me, and probably you too. I grew up quite separate from people, I talked plenty, but never engaged. Yet, it was a few people and their stories that changed everything. Since then, I have learned more from the stories of others, than I have learnt from reading and university studies combined.

“It’s good to learn from your mistakes, it’s better to learn from other people’s mistakes” – Warren Buffett.

One of the benefits, and perhaps curses, of being a chronic networker is that I meet a lot of people. Each of the people I have met have provided me with life lessons, key takeaway messages. In fact, it was through a conversation with one person that this blog emerged.

Five people, I used to know

We live in a world, rich with information, yet I believe it is those passing by who teach us the most. Here are the stories of five people, I have met along my journey this year.

Each of these arrived in my life in such different ways. Two work events. A cocktail party. Two dates. Five people. Many great life lessons.

For anonymity’s sake, I give each a name that reflects a part of the person I saw. Each of these will feature over the next couple of weeks. These people didn’t cling on, but still had a profound impact on me.

The Good Leader

This individual came with a lengthy introduction, accolades a mile long. Someone I looked up to, and still do. I saw him entering the room I was sitting. The irony of seeing a face on paper and seeing in person, is that reality tells a thousand more words than the picture. The smiling face carefully lit by the right flash settings, completely different to reality.

Larger than life in print. Yet, quiet and well-thought in person. As I sat down and heard him speak, I saw a pattern emerge in the way he worked as an academic. I’m sure you can guess, this one isn’t the date. The pattern was a passion for the not so interesting.

In research, we look to inquiry. We want to think. We want to create. And we want to design. Except, this guy said the complete opposite. He didn’t so much say it, but I could tell. His research had some creation, but most was testing relationships between leadership and variables.

Love what you’re doing.

What the Good Leader taught me was quite simple. Life isn’t always about doing what you love, like some of the Christmas cards and famous quotes will tell you. It’s about loving what you’re doing. I’m not saying to do what you hate and force yourself to love it. Not at all. Rather, that:

“The world ‘aint all sunshine and rainbows.” – Rocky Balboa.

The rest of that part, if you remember Rocky VI, doesn’t quite apply. But it tells an important message. There will always be points in your life that aren’t exciting. Always pieces of the puzzle with tinged corners. We get past those. We move beyond those pieces by enjoying that journey.

Life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, but it can be. To give a cliche analogy, sometimes we have to take life as it comes, and make the most of the good… and the bad. It’s great to live through the great, but it’s also pretty amazing to learn through the less than good too.

Listen more, speak less.

I almost called the Good Leader, the Observer. What makes a leader who they are is a few key characteristics they possess. This one took a page out of Richard Branson’s book and loved to listen.

“Two Monologues Do Not Make A Dialogue.” – Jeff Daly.

He spent more time studying how we interacted than speaking himself. Yet, I walked away respecting him more for it. Why he did it was obvious to me. It wasn’t a sense of timidness or discomfort. It was a passion. A new environment was an opportunity to learn. To listen.

It is no surprise that one of my favourite authors writes on this:

“Talk to someone about themselves and they’ll listen for hours.” ― Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People.

The takeaway

If this man offered good qualities to live by, it is these. The Good Leader behaved in two ways worth noting. The first, to love what I am doing, even when I’m not doing what I love. The second, to speak less and listen more.

Read on, with Life lessons from the Workaholic.