What’s Your “Exception”?
For me, there’s no question that “exception is the enemy of discipline”. A little rice with my Japanese food at lunch, leads to pasta and bread…and yes, cookies at dinner – and death to my no-carb diet. One month I don’t get my newsletter out, and then I don’t get it out. And don’t get it out. My husband laughed at me as he caught up on my blogs this past weekend, “There was a bit of a gap in your postings. It’s called 2012.” Yep. I had made an exception.
And for me, it’s the same with everything. I can be great with my ritual daily 5-mile walks. Until I’m not. With getting up early. Until I’m not. With keeping up with old friends. Until I’m not. I wish it weren’t like this. But it is. That’s just the way it works for me.
But I think this exception-thing can go far beyond basic habits that serve us well. When we start making exceptions to what we know is right for us, we can find ourselves moving down a path away from who we really are and want to be.
All in an effort to get a fast result, we find ourselves “making an exception”. We say things that are hurtful. We take shortcuts. We don’t do our due-diligence. We say “yes” to work that isn’t right for us. We agree to things to avoid an argument. We engage in mean gossip. We yell. We tell “white” lies. We react. All the while telling ourselves, that that’s not who we really are – that we’re just making “an exception”. And of course we follow-up this thinking with a litany of excuses to ourselves justifying why the exception makes complete sense.
Except it doesn’t.
Why would it? When we do something that’s not in alignment with who we really are and want to be, we feel it. I’ve learned all of my “reasons why” don’t matter – as I can’t escape me.
And from a leadership perspective? You’ve heard me say it a million times before, leaders are always on stage – because people are always watching. Our exceptions breed culture, model leadership, and define our character in the hearts and minds of those we need to engage. You may have made threats in your last meeting to make a point (they know you were just mad, don’t they?), but that exception may cause your whole team to put one foot out the door. And what did you just teach them about how to get results? About how people in your organization treat each other? A leader’s ripple effect has lasting impact.
Look, I get that none of us are perfect and we’re going to be making exceptions a lot. The trick isn’t how to never make an exception. The trick is, how can you call yourself out on your own stuff and own it? Own it with yourself, so you can forgive and move forward? Own it with others, so you can clean it up, connect and create a better result? Not the fastest result. The better result.
And yes. That goes with carbs. And walks.
And blogs too.
©OnStage Leadership, 2013
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