In the summer of 2010 12 individuals went to Kenya to a very special place, Tumaini. The record of their trip, the sum up of all the smiles of those beautiful children is coming soon in a documentary titled: The Roots of Happiness. As you watch this take a look at the joy of the children with the jump ropes that were made by our students here at Balanced Life Skills. Everytime I watch this I am rushed with emotions and love for these beautiful children.
Roots of Happiness Trailer from Brian Williams on Vimeo.
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?
One of the most important skills that a leader needs is one of communication. Communication is made up of two parts both of which are very important, but the first one is vital to the second. That first skill is listening. The focus and attitude for listening can really make the difference in a leader that is respected by others or not.
How do we teach our children about listening. There are several ways of showing that we are listening to others including, looking at them in the eyes, nodding from time to time, being able to repeat what they say back to them, keeping our bodies still and not fidgeting, and not being distracted by electronics, noises, others, or even worst – our own thoughts.
When I was talking to our students about this subject, I told some of them that sometimes I find my eye wandering to see who is next in line to speak to me. Have you ever done that? Well I have and I am working on practicing keeping my eyes, attention and thoughts on the person and the message they are delivering to me.
Being a good communicator also includes being able to speak well. For many of our students it may start with speaking loud enough for others to hear them. Now when we get the volume up we have to think about the attitude of the voice and person. Which of the following 3 types of leaders are they; passive, aggressive, or assertive?
A passive leader is one that seldom does the work and finds it difficult to make decisions. They may even agree with everyone but not want to be responsible for making a call or decision. The aggressive leader is full of opinions, generally their own, and are more than happy to push them on everyone around them. They seldom are good listeners.
Then there is the assertive leader. This person is a good listener, willing to hear out all opinions and ideas before drawing a conclusion and making an advised decision. This assertive leader would ask others to help them in a kind way and would always be willing to say thank you. They would recognize to others the work of his group and be willing to share the rewards. This is the kind of leader most of us would like to work for, this is the kind of leader we all want to be.
I would like to share with everyone a project that was started by one of our students and his mom. It is called the Baby Sleep Project. The story is moving, the results amazing and the help that we can give will help others have the same miraculous results.
I will not tell you the story here, but encourage you to read it for yourself. I will tell you that it is about a baby born pre-mature, with half of a heart. The work done on him by the doctors was just unbelievable. The complimentary work continued by his parents though may have been the difference in his survival.
The Baby Sleep Project
The Baby Sleep Project is about helping other babies have the same recovery as this story. With the blessing of the doctors and belief by them that this work done was contributory to his regaining his strength and life, I encourage you to look at this project. We are trying to reach a goal prior to our young man’s 11th birthday.
Being a leader means we take the initiative to achieve a goal that may be good for us as an individual or may be for the common good for a group of people, places or things. We may have a personal goal to learn a new skill or to work on our physical, mental, spiritual or social self. As we set out to reach our goal we recognize that we may not be able to reach that goal without the help of others. It may be that we need someone to coach us in one way or another. Reaching out for that help – accepting that help is a sign of personal leadership.
Many times though our goals are going to include others, as we work to reach a goal for the common good of others. At those time we realize that it is not just about us, it has to be about the group. So how do we get everyone on board with the groups goal. Part of it is to be sure everyone has input on the overall picture and then buys into the vision that we have for the outcome.
But then we must take the initiative and go after the goal. Being willing to step up and moving on items, delegating as needed, being sure that everyone understands their role in the groups activity, and the importance of each of the steps. I think about the need to praise and to keep the vision clear in the eyes of each member.
Stephen Covey put it this way to his son in regard to their lawn. The goal or vision was that the lawn was, “clean and green”. How he got to that point was up for him to decide, with help if he needed it. So it is with us in our groups have a clear goal – then allow team members the opportunity to use their initiative too.
This morning a group of Balanced Life Skills parents and students got together and prepared lunches for the clients of the LIghthouse Shelter. We finished so fast that when some folks arrived the work was already done and the lunches were delivered. The spirit of giving of our time, talents and resources is strong in our school. In talked about charity in the month of August and are following it up with discussions on Leadership in September.
Leadership is when we take an idea or a cause that we are interested in and engage others to achieve a common goal. I was so happy that some of the volunteers this morning suggested that we should help out with lunches for those in need more often. I believe that we will be able to do accomplish this goal with the action of our students and parents.
If you would like to share in this work, email Balanced Life Skills and lets see if we can schedule a time, once a month, to assist those in our community who need our help. Thanks to our helpers this morning for the quick work you made of our project this morning.