Is Your Legacy Contagious?
For as long as I can remember my Dad has been getting up at 4:30am to read. He reads journal articles, the newspaper, and studies with an intensity that few of us could match. While he retired quite a few years ago, he still keeps himself current on the latest research, and attends association meetings and conferences. He’s re-ignited his passion for the guitar and Spanish – practicing both for hours-on-end each day, and is on his way to becoming a master gardener. My Dad has modeled growth and development my entire life. His hunger for knowledge – for mastery – has been contagious. I’m grateful.
As leaders you likely know that one of the most important things you can do for your organization is to build your bench strength. And for many leaders I meet, growing and developing their employees is one of the most satisfying things they do at work. But just like our kiddos don’t respond well to “do what I say, not what I do”, the people we lead need good models to follow. If we want them to grow themselves, we have to be willing to do the same.
It always amazes me when organizations invest in training their emerging leaders (and don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful they do!), but don’t expect their senior leaders to invest the time to improve and grow themselves. What message does that send?
One of the things I have always loved most about the theatre is the culture of learning. Great actors are never done exploring, testing, honing. They remain curious. They continue to take classes. To train. Always seeking mastery.
Mastery is elusive. It’s always out of reach. You can never quite achieve it because you can always be better.
But if you don’t want to pursue mastery for the sake of those you lead, consider doing it for yourself. Dan Pink, in his book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, identifies pursuing mastery as one of the top three things we need to feel motivated. We like to experience ourselves getting better, knowing more, improving, but as Pink says, “The joy is in the pursuit more than the realization.” The cool thing is, that’s totally within our own realm of control. We can grow ourselves without permission.
And today there is no shortage of tools to grow yourself. Linkedin makes it super easy to scan the daily “Influencer Posts” and catch up on the latest thinking from a huge cross-section of leaders, researchers, and writers. Next time you’re on a flight, try reading a book instead of catching up on email. Join a mastermind group. Take a class! (I’ve heard that “OnStage Leadership” program gets good reviews…)
Wherever you are in your leadership journey, find a way to keep growing and learning. Never stop – no matter how fancy your title becomes. Seek mastery, knowing that it’s a quest that will never end. That’s a legacy that’s contagious.
©OnStage Leadership, 2014 (revised from the post originally posted in July, 2013) If you found this helpful, interesting, thought-provoking, or inspiring please “recommend”, “Like” and share. It is only through your generosity that we can reach those who may find it valuable too. My sincere thanks. Kimberly
Want to grow as a leader? Join us at our upcoming session of OnStage Leadership: Dallas, TX – July 24; NYC, Fall 2014 (date tbd). Register Now.