12.28.12 | Posted in UnCommon Leadership
The title of this blog might suggest that I’m writing about this particular topic because we’re approaching the end of a calendar year and it’s time for New Year’s resolutions. No, that’s not it. It’s because for the entire year of 2012 I’ve been in a time of retooling and reinvention, and thus highly qualified to talk about the subject!
Last year in September, I found myself at the Marriott Miracle Mile in downtown Chicago about to eat dinner alone. Instead of room service or eating in the restaurant, I sauntered down to the bar area where they had 6 giant TV’s and watched NFL football while I ate at the bar. The guy sitting near me and I struck up a conversation as we both watched the games. At one point, I began texting to my daughter, carrying on with that “conversation” for about 15 minutes. The guy decided to offer his unsolicited opinion about how stupid texting was and that he hasn’t embraced technology. He proudly showed me his cell phone which looked like a relic they sell to seniors! I already knew that he had a 20-something son because he proudly told me how big and talented his son was and that he had played football at Harvard. Using my coaching skills I asked a powerful question with the intent of enlightening him on what he could possibly be missing with his current thinking: “Doesn’t your son text?” “Oh, yes, and he wants me to text with him, but I’m just not going to do that. I don’t have time for it and believe it’s worthless.”
At some point, for those of us in the business of helping people grow, you have to make decisions about whom you try to help. As I quickly ran through the options in my mind, I tried to determine whether I would continue the dialogue with him and help him understand that it’s not about technology. My goal would be to help him see how important it is to meet someone he cares about at their point of need and interest, therefore creating even deeper bonds. But, from the hour long conversation we had just traveled through, my impression was of a person very set in his ways and very resistant to change. And, I made the decision, especially since he hadn’t actually asked for my help, to just say, “I guess that’s your choice,” and then proceeded to indicate with my body language that our conversation was over.
I actually felt a little sorry for this man as I realized how much he was missing. There was a golden opportunity to connect with his son and do something that generation loves doing. Just because he’s not willing to grow and reinvent not only what he does, but how he thinks. The chances to connect with those that we care about are sometimes fleeting, and we should act now before it’s too late. Maybe one day he’ll realize how much he missed. Kind of reminds me of Cat Steven’s song” Cats in the Cradle!”
We all know people like this man. It’s easy to see the faults and failures of others. But sometimes when we see those, there is a mirror reflecting back and maybe we should take our own counsel we give to others. I’ve found that true for me, at least.
- What do you need to reinvent in your life?
- What are you being obstinate about and unyielding in your willingness to embrace change?
- Who needs you to move more in their direction to help create a more powerful bond?
We’ve all heard this mantra: “You’re either going forward or you’re standing still.” With the technology example above, I don’t have to remind you about the speed of change these days, do I? So the mantra needs changing.
You’re either growing or you’ll fade into oblivion (just like that cell phone that man was still using!).
Onward & Upward!