We have talked about making decisions and and choosing what we believe is the best thing to do or say either personally or for the team we are leading. But sometimes leaders make mistakes so how do leaders handle that? Leaders take “responsibility”. If they make a mistake real leaders do not start pointing the finger and blaming others. They admit when they are wrong, apologize as is needed and then try to make things right. In other words they “fix it’.
It is very easy to get caught up in the moment when we have made a mistake and start pointing fingers. But when we begin blaming others we really start diminishing the strength of the team or at the very least of those around us. If we are a leader we would be best to follow the advice of Peter Drucker who said: “The leaders who work most effectively…never say ‘I’…They don’t think ‘I’. They think ‘we’; they think ‘team’…They accept responsibility and don’t sidestep it, but ‘we’ gets the credit…. This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done.”
How does taking responsibility impact people around us? It creates a trust in you as a leader, it allows others to feel comfortable in risk taking and most important they know that the leader will share the success of the team with crediting everyone. With that sort of trust others in the group are willing to take responsibility for any mistakes they make also. I am reminded of the thing my father told me when I was young. He told me that when we point a finger at others, we have to remember that we have 3 other fingers pointing back at us. Blaming others accomplishes nothing and fixes nothing.
Making good choices and taking responsibility for our work and what we say and do builds great teams. As I tell all of our students, “The most important team we are on is our family.” So do you take your jobs, chores, and work you do seriously? Are you responsible to get things done? Do you show you are responsible for the mistakes you make?
This week we have been talking to our students about making choices and decisions. Making choices is based on what is best for the group or even for us as an individual is what leaders do. So how do the best leaders make their choices?
The simple answer is you need to consider what the results will be, the good and the bad that will come from the choice. One way of approaching that is to make a list of the “pros and cons”. Weighing the pros and cons, and I like to write them down, will help us to see the consequences – good or bad- that will result from either direction we may take.
Some choices may be very simple, while others may have more impact on our lives and our happiness. For instance choosing whether we get a pet or not get a pet, we will weigh out how much fun it will be vs how much work is involved. We may even weigh the differences and the affects of choosing a dog or a cat. It may be that an iguana might be the perfect pet for us.
Other choices may be more difficult. What if we had to choose between going out for a school play or spending more time on school work. There will be many things to consider both in short term and long term goals that we have. All leaders need to make these tough decisions and sometimes we are not really sure what to do. We want to remember that leaders do not have to know all the answers. They do need to have around them others that they trust though.
If you are a student you have your parents that you can go to and talk about your list of pros and cons to help you come to a good choice for you. You may even have other adults in your life that you may want to ask how they see a situation. Even your friends may be available to speak to, although you do need to be careful that you do not only seek out the advice of those that you think will agree with you.
If you are an adult it may be your partner or someone in the organization that you work for that may be there for you to bounce ideas off. It may be a trusted friend or an advisor or for many of us we may have a mentor that we can talk to. But in the end it is us as the leader that must make the final decisions. As a leader we do not want to “pass the buck” or even avoid risk-taking completely. We do want to make informed decisions that with all the information at hand will be best for those that are following us.
Each month we define and discuss a word of character development with all of our students. This month the word is Leadership. It will be defined this way.
Young students: Leadership means: “I make great choices so follow me!”
Older students: Leadership means: Inspiring people into action to achieve a common goal.
If you would like to see how we will deal with this subject with our students please follow our discussions here during the month of September.
The other day when I was teaching I mentioned to the students that anger management may very well be one of the most important self defenses that we could ever learn. Think about it for a minute. Most of us will never be kicked or punched in a violent attack that takes place in the street. But everyone of us will be angry about something at some point and depending on if we know how to calm down and think about the choices we have, may decide how much difficulty we make for ourselves.
Here are 4 ways that we can practice calming down.
1. Take 3 deep breaths. In fact take more if that is what is needed.
2. Count to ten or count down from ten to one.
3. Allow ourselves to listen to a friend say “calm down’, or we can practice saying it to ourselves.
4. Visualize in your mind a very peaceful place that you enjoy being.
In all 4 of these examples the idea is to get your self to a place in your head to think about all of your choices and the consequences of each one. We need oxygen in our brain to think and when we are angry, most people’s breathing gets very shallow and quick and does not get to the brain in sufficient quantities.
So which technique works for you? Or do you have another method that you use? some of the kids told me that they go to their room and hit their pillow. In my next post I will comment on that technique.
One of the most common reasons parents bring their children to a martial arts school is to teach them about impulse control. Doing the first thing that pops into our head without thinking through all of the possible solutions can end up in results that are less than what we hoped for. So we are going to spend some time this month on the subject of self control.
Our child development specialist, Robyn Silverman, gave us this system for gaining this control. We want to remember STEP.
Here is how it works. S is for Stop. First we must find a way to slow ourselves down before we do the first thing that pops into our head. It might be taking 3 deep breaths or stepping away from a situation, but we must distract ourselves before making that decision. T is for THINK. Make a list of all the possible solutions you can come up with. Some of them may seem ridiculous, but the point is to let your mind be creative and think of all of the ways you could handle this situation. E is for EVALUATE. Now look at each solution and decide if this would result in a good consequence or a bad one. Is this solution safe? Is it fair? Some of the choices you will throw away and some you will keep. But then you need to decide which one is going to be best for you at this time. P is for PROCEED. Now is the time to implement your choice. Here is where great balance is needed as you proceed you choose what is thoughtful with being eager and gutsy. You balance your goals and self motivation with being level headed and thoughtful.
Maintaining self control is really just about slowing down and thinking through our choices before acting on them.
Each month we define and discuss a word of character development with all of our students. This month the word is Self Control. It will be defined this way.
Young students: Self Control means: “I stop and think before I act!”
Older students: Self Control means: Slowing down and thinking through choices before acting upon them.