I’m doodling. This picture is of my first thoughts about the drawings that will accompany each chapter of my Circle of Impact Africa book.
Over the last year, I have had a number of disturbing conversations that have effectively ended a number of friendships. It has been a painful experience because I care about these people. I am finding that I am not the only one who has experienced the emotional melt-downs that lead to broken relationships. The problem is that I am not the one having the psychotic break. These meltdowns are an emotional break from reality.
If you were to talk to these friends of mine, I suspect they would tell you that I am responsible. I have been told that I am insane, that I believe in conspiracy theories, which I don’t, and that I am a danger to society, which I am not. I have had phone calls abruptly end in mid-sentence and people tell me that they don’t want to see me. In almost every case, a reasonable explanation of my views is not permitted. If you read this blog or read the books that I have written, you’ll understand my perspective. I want to make sense of the world. In doing so, it means we know how to act in it.
My point here is not to argue my perspective. Instead, I am more concerned with helping people discover their own minds. You don’t have to see things as I do. Hardly anyone does. It is important that you have clear reasons why you make the decisions that you do and take the actions that follow those decisions. You do need this for your own peace of mind. If in the process you find out that you made some decision based on faulty reasoning or inadequate information, you can say to yourself, “Okay. Glad to know that. Let’s fix this.”
When did self-awareness become an obstacle in our lives?
After a quarter-century of consulting with organizations and coaching their leaders, I realized that it was the self-awareness of people that was a prime hurdle to fulfilling potential, creating impact, and leading people.
Let’s look into this.
WHAT IS SELF-AWARENESS?
Self-awareness is knowing who you are within the context of your life situations.
There are two sides to self-awareness. One is knowing who we are as persons. The other is understanding the situations that we are in. Self-awareness and situational awareness are indelibly intertwined.
Self-awareness is being aware of who we are, who we can become, what our potential is, and, maybe more importantly, who we are not. This is particularly true in a time where social media has the power to mold people into persons that their friends and family do not recognize.
Problem-solving and change management are very close to one another. I see it in the pattern of behavior where leaders resist change and avoid problem-solving.
Why is this?
It is actually quite easy to pinpoint. Here are two of the reasons.
First, they have never learned how to solve problems.
Second, they correctly assume that solutions imply change.
I recently published a short book called Solving Problems: A Guide To Being A Person of Impact. Yes, it is simply a book on problem-solving. It helps people learn a simple process for solving problems that can be applied in almost any situation. It is based upon my Circle of Impact model of leadership.
When people solve their own problems, they also gain skills in communication, collaboration, and innovation. All are leadership skills that everyone needs to acquire regardless of the position that they have in the organization. What, then, is the impact of this approach to leadership. In simple terms, it moves an organization from being leadership starved to being leader-rich. More definitively, it decentralizes the capacity of an organization to solve its problems. I saw this effect in an organization that I served many years ago. Small problems flowed up through the hierarchy to the vice-president’s desk. By then a problem had turned into an issue between the company and the union. When the company implemented a program to train and support all their employees in practicing these leadership skills, the trust level in the company grew, ultimately gaining the awareness of Forbes magazine in their annual list of most trustworthy companies. This is the potential that results from elevating the leadership capacity of people.
The stresses and strains of operating a business have grown considerably over the past twenty years. One of the outcomes is the changing role of leadership. Throughout history, a leader was thought of as a person of influence. What is influence? Really. What is it? How do you measure it? Is this a perspective that will serve us well as a global community with an uncertain future?