I started today a bit pissed off that I had fallen down as a parent, not having asked the right questions which led to a not great night for our daughter. She is 11 and had been at a sleep over where they watched inappropriate scary movies. I can be mad at the sleep over parents or I can admit that I didn’t think to ask the right questions and be mad at myself, then learn from it and ask the questions next time. I picked option 2. The truth is I didn’t see that coming because it’s not what I would do.
And today is my husband’s 50th birthday and I worked hard on a special gift, 50 years of Memories, which housed funny, sentimental and emotional reminders of the impact he has had on many throughout his 50 years. That in concert with how its an emotional kind of day, because it’s also Remembrance Day and that in and of itself makes me teary when I think of all of those soldiers who made a decision for us, and you and all generations that come after us because it was the right thing to do in the right moment for the right reason. And I wonder if they were scared. Then I relish the moments of silence and the bag pipes and the poppies, red may I point out, red poppies, and the time we take to show a small bit of gratitude before we carry on our way and day. A young girl said to me ‘it’s like any other holiday’ and I had to disagree. It’s not the same and the other holidays get to happen because of what we are supposed to remember today, and well, let’s face it, every day. We are fortunate, very very fortunate for the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds who asked the right questions and did the right thing so their kids didn’t have a bad night, or life. It’s absolutely the gift that keeps on giving.
My husband didn’t see the 50 Years of Memories coming so was unprepared for what the letters said and pictures reminded him of, he couldn’t prepare because he didn’t see it coming. Think about that for a minute, think about our soldiers who I suspect didn’t see a lot of things coming, because how would you? And think about yourself when you feel like someone has blindsided you. Did you see it coming? And if no, why not?
Now apply that thought to your teams, if you don’t prepare them for what’s coming how will they react when it comes? How will they learn to anticipate what’s coming? And if you don’t know what’s coming, how do you prepare them for what might come? It’s like defensive driving for life. For example, if find yourself in a situation where you have to fire someone and they are surprised, you have not done your job as their leader. If your team is falling down on the job and don’t know it, that’s you. If your team arrives at a situation unrehearsed and in poor form, that’s you. If your team does a bang up job and hits it out of the park, that’s them. That’s them because of you. Get it?
It’s about thinking beyond what you would do in situations. You can’t lead based on what you would do, you have to anticipate and educate based on what anyone might do. It’s not about having a ton of rules, its about having a system in place that safeguards your teams, your kids, your soldiers.
You can use all the excuses you want and even tell yourself how terrible a certain generation is or you can belly up to the bar and drink down the adult responsibility of leading a team into and through everything including what they don’t see coming, but they better see you. Now go do the right thing.