In some parts of the world, Chapters is the name of a book store. In a book like Contagious Leadership, chapters are the vehicles to share ten steps for transition from manager to leader. In life, chapters are phases or sections of growth and development. These chapters often have a beginning and end, markers of milestone measurement, and emotion. These chapters can build on each other for momentum and accelerated learning or take a leader on a sharp turn that feels right (or left) for her or him. What chapter are you in and how do you handle the transition? This Monday Moment looks at three important aspects for consideration when anticipating or bracing for your own personal page turner.
The first step of any process is identifying the point from which you’ll start. Are you in a chapter currently that is gripping and leading to a literary climax or is it more a chapter of details one needs to make sense of for future chapters? Even if you’re not a reader, imagine your life and work like a book. You make decisions to pick it up, finish it, or let it gather dust on the night stand, based on the engagement factor of each chapter. If we looked at life in this manner, might we make better decisions on where to continue to spend our energy? How many chapters are you currently reading that long ago became less than engaging and hang like a heavy necklace of obligation? Identify those chapters. Take a closer look at them. Accept that not every chapter will provide equal enthusiasm. Be objective in chapter identification and learn what is needed before moving to the next one. In books, we can cheat and go straight to the end. In life, growth and development is rarely that easy. Decide which chapters are valuable, just fluff, important to your future, or too draining to keep reading.
Some books even suggest at a certain point that if you’ve already done what the author recommends, to skip ahead. Choosing a new chapter is easy when in your Kindle or paper-based library. Yet, in the library of life and our work commitments, it can be difficult at best to implement a desired new chapter choice. Once you’ve identified where you are and what you’re learning from the phase you might be in, there are additional factors to consider before making a change. Is there great value in one aspect of a draining chapter that supersedes all other considerations? Are you wrestling with a sense of responsibility, integrity, or a need to fulfill a commitment that you believe others will judge if you don’t? Do you simply have a belief that while your current chapter shares nothing but negative information, you should stay put and endure the situation until some other external force closes this chapter? Your answers will be personal and each person’s will vary. Whether you’re looking at a change in job, a move to a new company, a promotion, taking care of aging parents, ending a relationship, or the celebratory graduation of your oldest, being present to the chapter you’re in will help you get the most out of it. Choosing to be in one chapter or another, even if you stay in a crummy one, will motivate you more to make use of the information you gain, while in it.
A popular phrase goes like this “you can do anything you want, just not all at once.” Not every chapter needs to continue forever. Not every leader needs to read every chapter. Yet all successful leaders allow for the flow of chapters beginnings and endings. In the beginning, that leader may set the stage or conduct preparatory work. He or she may forge relationships and make abundant contributions. The leader may assess needs, and whether or not they’re being met, but many leaders simply delight in the act of leadership and will contribute this effort for as long as it suits them. In all stages, flow is a principal factor in the natural progression of every chapter. Are things just beginning to get exciting? Do you feel the spark of fresh, new, motivation? Or do transitions feel choppy? Do previous conclusions or actions appear far less effective? Are you starting to see signs of a natural ending? Leaders know forcing a chapter to stay open that has come to a natural conclusion is frustrating for all involved parties. Just as important as the steps in the beginning, allowing for chapters to have an ending, keeps the leader moving forward. After all, rapid acceleration in your desired direction is made more difficult when dragging behind you a multitude of unfinished, undecided, or unidentified chapters. Not every chapter, perhaps, will have a clear, cut and dry, beginning, middle and ending, but much as it is said there are seasons to our lives, there are likely to be chapters in your life and work experience, each of which are worthy of paying some attention. Identify them. Consciously choose them and make the most of each aspect of each, and every, one of them.
Monica Wofford, CSP is a leadership development specialist who coaches, consults with, and speaks to leaders of all levels, building their skills, emotional intelligence and authenticity. Author of Contagious Leadership and Make Difficult People Disappear, Monica may be reached at www.ContagiousCompanies.com, www.MonicaWofford.com or by calling 1-866-382-0121.