Each Monday, I end this MMM missive with a question, “How will you lead differently, or better, this coming week?” The question is intended to encourage readers to think, and lead, more intentionally; to lead less out of routine, habit, or past practice and to continually refine their approach to leadership.
The premise is this; if we expect, or desire, different results, if we want our cultures to be better and stronger, if we want our organizations to think and act differently, then we ourselves must lead differently. It has been my experience that we cannot hope to get different results tomorrow without continually enhancing, refining, perhaps even changing, our approach to leadership today.
I’ll share my personal answer to that question this week. First, a short back story.
I was privileged, this past week, to co-facilitate a change leadership workshop for a great group of leaders in New York City. Our meeting location was located two blocks from Ground Zero of the World Trade Center. As part of the leadership development experience, we were able to participate in a guided tour of the 9/11 Memorial Museum.
A couple of participants opted out of the experience fearing the tour could be too emotional. A few separated themselves from the group for a more private time of reflection, a few shed tears, most were quiet & contemplative, all were deeply moved! Post-tour adjectives included: Memorable! Powerful! Moving! Emotional! Humbling! Painful! Respectful! Introspective! Honoring! Life-changing!
My personal advice, if you get the chance to go, don’t pass it up! Plan to spend as much time as you’re able. I could have easily spent an entire day or more, seeing, reading, listening, watching, reflecting, praying or spending time in quiet meditation and gratitude.
I suspect every person reading these words today remembers exactly where they were on September 11th, 2001. You likely remember what you were doing, who you were with and what you did for the remainder of that horrific day and the days that followed. I was on my way to the Boise airport that morning when American Flight #11 struck the North Tower. After spending several hours at the airport, I went home and hugged my wife and two young children. After we put our children to bed, Becky and I watched the news on television and held hands in quiet disbelief.
While not in any way minimizing what happened on that terrible day in September, I would like to ask you about your reflections of the following day, Wednesday, September 12th, 2001. While I will never forget 9/11, I believe it would be good if we could all reflect on 9/12/2001 and the days immediately following. Here is what I remember about 9/12:
People were kind to each other. Strangers asked other strangers about their well-being and cared enough about others to stop and listen. There was genuine concern for others. Drivers were more courteous; you could use your turn signal to merge lanes and other drivers would slow down enough to let you merge without honking or flying a middle finger. Mixed religions and congregations worshiped together. The spiritual, religious and non-religious spent time together in prayer or time of reflective meditation. Parents were more patient and loving with their children. It was OK to hug each other. Neighbors were more neighborly. For the most part, America was a kinder, gentler, more respectful and loving place to live.
Today, I ask these questions, “Why do we need a 9/11 to have a 9/12? Why does it take the worst of humankind to bring out the best of humankind?”
Realizing this is a repeat from only a couple of weeks ago, I repeat this powerful request:
“Please grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change,
The courage to change the ONE I can,
And the wisdom to know it’s me.” – Author unknown
So, how will I lead differently, or better, this coming week? Following is my personal answer to that question: This week, I will:
- assume (and actively seek out) the positive intentions of others.
- not expect me, or others, to be perfect, realizing to be human is to be imperfect. I will be patient and gentle with myself and others for our collective imperfections.
- be more patient, listen better and care more deeply.
- role model behavior that is not divisive, destructive or disrespectful to those who see the world differently than me.
- not say anything about others in their absence, that I would not be comfortable saying in their presence.
- be a champion for positive, constructive, life-enhancing leadership.
Our organizations, neighborhoods, families and country will not grow, change or improve unless each of us, as individuals grow and improve first. When we blame others without first looking at our individual behaviors and contributions to our circumstances, we become part of the problem.
My request; let’s each try be part of the solution.
While no person should ever have to endure another 9/11 in their lifetime, I so wish we could all live like it were Wednesday, September 12th, 2001… more caring, kinder, loving and supportive.
Bonus Quotes Below.
How will you live and lead differently, or better, this week?
May we all have a kinder week ahead!
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Have a great week!
“Expanding Your Capacity for Success”
“For me and my family personally, September 11 was a reminder that life is fleeting, impermanent, and uncertain. Therefore, we must make use of every moment and nurture it with affection, tenderness, beauty, creativity, and laughter.” —Deepak Chopra
“We can change our whole life, and the attitude of people around us, simply by changing ourselves.” – Rudolf Dreikurs
“Time is passing. Yet, for the United States of America, there will be no forgetting September the 11th. We will remember every rescuer who died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of the children.” — former President George W. Bush
“When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.
I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.
When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.
Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.” – Attributed to an Unknown monk, c. 12th century