Early in my career, I had a boss who was a micro-manager. Really, it might be better to call him a “nano-manager,” with the way he did things. I mean, this guy somehow kept up with every single little detail of everything that was going on in his operation, and no triviality was too small for him to intervene over and put everyone in their place. This was just a couple years after Bill Gates predicted that there would be “a computer on every desk and in every home,” but we weren’t there yet; I can only imagine the level of megalomania this boss would have felt with the internet at his fingertips.
How would you describe the nicest vacation you have ever taken, if you could only use one word? How about how it felt the first time you got your feelings hurt? What word would you use to describe your earliest positive or negative memory? Chances are you cannot remember and describe every detail about these experiences, but the labels you have given them are probably firmly etched in your mind. When you think back about these or other memories, the first thing comes to your mind is the label, and your mind then uses that label to fill in the blanks around it. The fact is, this doesn’t apply only to memories, because we are constantly applying labels to every experience we have. The labels we choose—or let other choose for us—are what ultimately determine the context and meaning behind everything we experience, good or bad.
Culture transformation is warfare, make no mistake. It’s true that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood,” but our enemies—apathy, complacency, cynicism, resignation, hypocrisy, self-righteousness—are far more insidious and tenacious and dangerous than any physical combatant could ever be, for they can hide within and overtake anyone at any time. Considering the stakes of this epic battle, we would be wise to take stock of the tools we have at our disposal, on the front lines and at the top, and put them to good use. And I’m here to tell you that, bar none, the greatest “weapon” we have in this war are our words and our conversations with each other.
Have you ever found yourself stuck and unable to break through to the next level of performance or fulfillment? I believe it is safe to say we have all been there. No matter how awesome you are at what you do, if you are up to something big and you’re stretching yourself to increase your influence and create extraordinary results and fulfillment for yourself and others, there will come a time when you are faced with seemingly insurmountable barriers. People or events whose negative impact you don’t seem to be able to mitigate will persistently bog you down. The only question that matters at this point is whether you remain stuck and give up, or whether you figure out a way to move forward despite the obstacles and continue making the kind of progress you want to make.
Those of you who follow my blog or other posts on social media may have heard about our upcoming workshop retreat. You may have noticed that my team and I are very excited about it whenever we bring it up. Well, this is the week it happens. In fact, on the day this post is published, we will be at Serenbe Farms with 15 leaders, from six companies across six states, who have chosen to invest a day in themselves on behalf of their organizations through their pursuit of the goal of Transformative Leadership. The trust that these participants have placed in us is humbling and my team and I have been working tirelessly to ensure an extraordinary experience for them. It is our goal that they leave the event equipped with both the mindset and the knowledge to serve and lead others more effectively than they previously thought possible, enabling them to experience the joy and fulfillment that comes from making a greater difference in their organizations and communities.