By Kevin Meyer
Regular readers know I have a strange habit of flying off to Hawaii on just a couple hours notice when I feel the need to clear the mind and refocus on what's important. That happened again last week, and here I am getting ready to head home energized to make a difference. Again. Perhaps one of these days I'll realize that I should just stay over here instead of making a crazy trip three or four times a year. Believe me it has crossed my mind. There's just something about the tranquility and stark beauty of the Big Island's Kohala coast that seems to cure every ill.
On my way over here I came across a tweet from our friend Matthew May regarding his new article on Open Forum, How to Lead Without a Title. Perfect timing for my recalibration and rejuvenation trip as the book he discusses, Robin Sharma's The Leader Who Had No Title, also talks about the need to go back to the basics of leadership. The concept has been gnawing at me the last few days, but in a good way.
A couple of key takeaways for those of us who always seem to be juggling too many balls:
Focus on five. “Over the past number of years I have studied the traits of people most consider geniuses. One of the things geniuses do is to develop an obsessive focus around a few things. Most businesspeople try to be all things to all people and as a result end up as members of the cult of mediocrity. The essence of mastery is being obsessively great around about five things.
“So, articulate the five things that need to happen between now and the last day of your career to feel you led a world-class career. Then every day, focus first on those five things. Small daily improvements over time lead to stunning results.”
I won't bias your own analysis by telling you mine – of course I can't because I haven't sorted mine out yet. It's an interesting exercise.
Keep thinking. “Work on the way you think about things, your mental outlook, your mindset. Exercise your mind like you do your body. Every outer result is a reflection of the way you are thinking and perceiving a situation.”
I know many of us do that, but consciously? Several months ago I took my first yoga class and have since dived into it with a passion wondering why I didn't try it a couple decades earlier. Although I've always exercised regularly, yoga taught me how to really become at one with my body – to truly understand the mind-clearing power of breathing, feeling each extremity, and sensing what was happening to and around me. We need to do the same with our minds – truly being conscious of how and why and what we're thinking, and challenging those precepts.
The other concepts deal with leading people as people and as a person, and challenging them to also be good leaders. Many of us in the lean world understand the power of people, the oft-forgotten second pillar of lean.
Think about it: what would your company look like if everyone shows leadership in everything that they do? What if every day everyone comes in looking to innovate, to wow customers, and leave everyone they meet better than they found them?”
Once again, people as an asset, not a cost. It requires changing our thinking, our traditional perception, and exercising real leadership. It can be done.
I'll leave you with one memory – a photo of dinner at sunset last night. Take the time to refocus, to rejuvenate.