The Art of Leading, Coaching, & Influencing Others™: Worldview – Friendly or Hostile
A brief excerpt from Joe’s new book, The Art of Leading, Coaching, & Influencing Others™, coming out later this year.
Albert Einstein once said, “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” In other words, you have to decide if this place you inhabit, is a safe place or a dangerous one. A place where you approach each interaction with a self-protective mindset or a place where you can relax and trust the process.
Our experiences, along with our upbringings, play an important role in how we pass through our days on earth. When, where, how, and by whom you were raised, has an enormous impact on what we understand to be “normal.”
Our definitions of “normal” varies widely from person to person, family to family, and culture to culture. For example, folks raised during The Great Depression of the 1930’s see the world much differently then a child raised in the economic boom cycle of the 1990’s.
In our inter-connected, multi-cultural world, the culture in which we were raised significantly impacts how we lead. In organizations with locations scattered all over the world, it is quite typical that as part of their leadership development program, they transfer leaders between the different countries so they can broaden their perspectives and expose them to different cultures.
I once worked with a leader from South America who struggled with conflict because in his town growing up, conflict would literally cost you your life. So he learned not to confront others (including his people) on performance issues or anything that resembled a conflict. His cultural background manifested itself in his desire to make everyone happy and to not make waves. The results: his employee’s pushed back on him, disrespected his authority, and had no accountability or ownership for their work, all of which reflected on him as a leader.
When you take into consideration the constant barrage by a news media who peddles fear and sensationalizes the facts, add the social media factor and the ability to share violent and horrific videos live, it can be extremely difficult to not be over-run by a fear-based mind-set.
For the record, I understand that the world is not all sunshine, rainbows and unicorns. And yet, as a leader if you choose to see that for the most part, the world is a friendly place and people are good, more times than not, you will give others the benefit of the doubt. You will realize that not everyone is out to get you, make you look bad, or throw you under the bus … and you will be happier.
As a leader, when you trust others you delegate more and you micro-manage less. When the world is a friendly place you collaborate more with your people and your peers. Your ability to collaborate will allow you to get more things done than you ever could if you were isolated and hiding behind a fear-based shield. And when you get more things done, you increase your value to the organization and therefore your ability to be promoted.
In the end … you win.
If you believe the world is a friendly place, there will be times when things don’t go as planned and you may occasionally get burned. In those situations, you’re more likely to search for solutions and ways to make it better than to point finger, blame, and condemn, in order to protect yourself.
Each day you have the opportunity to choose between whether you live in a friendly or hostile universe.
Maybe old Albert had it right when he said … this truly is one of the most important decisions we make.