One key point to remember when trying to succeed is that success always takes a team of people. The notion that someone is self-made is ridiculous. It took two other people just to get you on the planet. I can’t think of anything else on the planet that is less self-made than humans are. So, if we always need others to help us succeed, then we should probably think about how we treat other people. Now, I understand that people are people and are always doing special things. I am not saying that people won’t continue to bug us sometimes, but we need to have grace when dealing with humans because all of us are messt up. (I know that’s not a word, but it is appropriate here. Thanks for the grace.) The Magic of Thinking Big gives us four leadership principles to help in this area:
- Trade minds with the people you want to influence.
- Think: What is the human way to handle this?
- Think progress, believe in progress, and push for progress.
- Take time out to confer with yourself.
Let me give you an example of number one on the list. A lady was hired to be the assistant buyer for a low- to medium-priced department store. All of the things she purchased were great, but they were not selling well. Eventually, she was let go from her position. The reason was because she was purchasing items that she liked. She was raised in a well-off family that was used to purchasing high-quality items that naturally cost more. She was thinking everyone would love what she loved, but she never tried to mentally switch places with someone that had a tight budget. It is very important in business to always try to think from the other person’s point of view. How to Have Confidence and Power in Dealing with People talks about the importance of moving to the other side of the table with someone—in other words, seeing the world from that person’s perspective or walking a mile in his shoes. The question to ask oneself is: How can I help that person based on where he is, what he sees, what he likes, what he doesn’t like, and what he dreams about and not what I think he should see, like, not like, or dream about?
Now if you are mentoring someone, you have to have the ability to see from the other person’s point of view and understand his position but also be able to see where he can be, rather than just where he is.
The human way to handle things actually seems like it is not natural to humans at all. I have seen people try to be the dictator and the letter-of-the-law person. The dictator sounds like this: “You will do it this way, or else!” That kind of attitude is really good for destroying relationships. Now, of course, most of us don’t approach it that way. We say things like, “Well, I am a so and so, and I think I know what I am talking about” or “Why would you listen to that person?” We have all kinds of creative ways of saying, “I am the dictator” without actually saying those words.
The other big violator is the letter-of-the-law person. I saw this one tragically implemented one time. Our business team produced a CD that talked about the husband being responsible for the family finances. The letter-of-the-law people told all the males that they should be writing the checks and doing all of the budgeting. WOW! I have never seen so many couples’ monthly budgets get destroyed so quickly! The wife was the organized one, and the sanguine males started torturing themselves trying to do the budgets. The human way is to look from their shoes and implement the principle, not the details. The male could still be responsible for the month’s budget without having to do the technical work. Study anyone that has successful long-term relationships, and they have handled things in a human way instead of the dictator or letter-of-the-law way.
The third item of always seeking improvement can cover many areas, but let me try to boil it down to a few simple steps. First, be harder on yourself than you are on your team members. If you strive for excellence yourself, your team will always follow suit. Second, try to make all your goals revolve around helping others hit their goals. If you plan it that way, then by default, you are focusing on others but still striving for progress.
The last step from The Magic of Thinking Big is to confer with yourself. The number one job of the leader is to think. I believe it was Henry Ford who said, “The hardest work in life is thinking; that is why so few people engage in it.” If the leader is not mentally ahead of the followers, then that means he is mentally with the followers and, by default, cannot be leading. Leaders must have quiet moments in which they give themselves time to think through issues, game plan, and set goals. This should be a weekly habit, but then leaders also need some bigger (or longer) thought-processing moments. Bestselling author Chris Brady wrote a great book talking about that very subject called A Month of Italy.