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Peak Performance: Motivating the Best in Others

How do people learn best, with the freedom to learn their own lessons or by force?

As parents, or any type of leader, we most often are led by a direct result – getting a product or service to market or raising a child or protégé to achieve their dreams or just get through life with the least harm done possible.

We tend to be over protective, often limiting any creative potential and probably damaging the growth.  We know of many of the mistakes that can be made and rush to tell them how to do it, most often in a telling, demanding way, instead of a showing and sharing way.

Is our world really so busy and filled with deadlines of some sort, that as leaders we cannot be compassionate to those we are working with and serve to teach them in the best possible light, which can only provide beneficial results for everyone.

Every one of us is genuinely unique in the best way we learn and are motivated, and many times throughout our lives we were given “advise” we were not ready to receive or willing to listen to. We needed to learn for ourselves-which meant at times we created a painful lesson.  If we are paying attention, we will gain from that past pain.  If not, we will be presented with the same lesson until we “get it”.

Looking back into my life I recall leaders who never would admit their own mistakes, and would scream and belittle to beat their way into our heads.  I have yet to see either method be very effective. Have you?

How different would we be if those leaders led with compassion and understanding?  Allowing us to make our choices but be near to assist us, should things start looking a little dicey.  Guiding, listening and sharing to help us realize we have more within ourselves than we realize.  But, it was beaten out of us by the “leaders” described above, that we are less than we are and they know everything.

Glinda, the good witch of the North- Wizard of OZ, represents the type of compassionate leadership.  She patiently waits behind the scenes as Dorothy follows the Yellow Brick Road, looking out for Dorothy’s welfare, allowing her to learn her own lessons and stepping in subtly to help –awakening from the poppy field sleep to continue the journey.

Mistakes, misfortunes visit all of us and those we serve have their own.  As leaders we must always remember that everyone has a deep need to be needed, loved and heard.  Sharing our experiences in a way that respects their own process can do wonders in building them into who they are to become.  Whenever possible to allow them to learn on their own, there is nothing like personal experience to drive home the lesson.

Making sure that the harm done is minimal to themselves or the product, although, there are many occurrences of people learning most when they fail the worst.  I recall a story of a project manager whose mistakes led to more than $1 Million in losses to the company.  To the project manager’s amazement he was not fired, but was re-assured that the company had just invested $1 Million in his education.

So often we make mistakes and are thrown away –either by companies, in relationships, or family. The times we need the most love is when we deserve it the least.  For the boss above appears to have compassion and knows with being understanding and supportive that the company will more than recoup their investment in the project manager.

How is it in your world, company or family?

Are you leading as you were led or how you would want to be led?

Gandhi, tells us “To become the leader you would follow”.  Far too often we have experiences that touch us deeply to learn what we would never want to be done to us again.  Learning what not to do invokes our own passions of what we truly want to do and become.

I hope that the thought of people being disposable ends soon. We will never all think or learn alike; we each have personal issues that tend to blur our visions.  Many times those who do not comply with guidelines are disregarded, perhaps blurring their visions even more.  This can change though compassionate leadership.  The definition of compassion is to “suffer with” or have sympathy.   To remember how they are feeling- how you may have felt with the same circumstances.  We are all walking wounded – just keeping that in mind will be an incredible shift for all those you serve.  All the problems cannot be left at home, at the office, or swept under the rug.  Putting the needs of others first and investing time and energy in those we serve will come back more than ten-fold.

Back in 1989, I was working in a machine shop with a “screamer leader”.  I felt horrible every minute I was there, which may of led to my lapse of attention on a couple of occasions where I got injured.  The last time was a back sprain, which pushed me to find another line of work and to get away from the screaming.  I had already enrolled in school for my marketing degree and sought out anything that would support my new direction.  Then I found an absolute blessing in my life, a small marketing company run by Rima and Fred. Rima was incredible; she saw her employee’s gifts and talents and fed them.  I saw her turn around many lives –including mine—by listening, nurturing, guiding, teaching us from our own mistakes and validating us.  For those of us who “got it” we became her new leaders and that investment was repaid to her immensely and now we have the opportunity to pay it forward.

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