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I hope you find this as enriching as I did. If you were after a reflection for today or this week, I encourage you to have a read and let me know what you thought or felt.
As I read it, it took me to reflect on when I lost my own father at the age of 14. I was ‘blessed’ to a certain degree with a level of comprehension of ‘living with the end in mind’ as a result. It has truly shaped my outlook on life, yet still I have so much to learn of course. This ‘living with the end in mind’ is very much like ‘beginning with the end in mind’ isn’t it and each day is truly a beginning.
I found it encouraging of things to focus on in my life and despite my own infusion of the value of life through my father’s loss I still read this article and understood there were areas I needed so much more to focus on.
I also found it such a magical article in light of the journey many make in a palliative situation, and also how it connected me to some degree with some understanding of what Dad might have gone through. It made me a little sad and a little happy at the same time as I approach the age myself where he did leave us for a better place.
I have a tear in my eye as I reflect upon how intertwined his heart still remains in mine and those of my wife and children through me. This article helped me also look upon the ways I fail them and where I could love them more as is my privileged role to perform.
It goes without saying that leaders do begin with the end in mind and the truly great leaders, live with the end in mind.
One of the great shames nowadays is all the different ways we’ve come up with to avoid one magical question that can changes someone’s day, when asked with meaning, intent, and dare I say it, love.
The question I’m referring to is ‘How are you’.
I believe we used to use it with far more empathy and we used to mean it. In our fast paced world and techniques of avoidance – you can’t go too deep with just anyone! – we’ve changed it to phrases like ‘What’s up’… err the sky. ‘Whadda ya know?’ … hmmm “lot’s and not much”. Or worst of all, we actually ask “How are you?” but really don’t care and simply are being polite, the encounter an interruption to a busy day and all that needs doing because my day is all about me!
You see the old fashioned approach was to take time and energy when meeting people to actually ask them ‘how are you’ and then genuinely listen for their reply then connect with them. For me, one of the more beautiful elaborations on this theme actually came from the movie Avatar. There is a tribe called the Na’vi tribe who live on the planet Pandora where the story takes place and their standard greeting when they met was ‘I see you’. It’s far deeper than the words though. It was said with meaning, a gaze filled with intent that emanated from the big emotion filled eyes of the Na’vi. It communicated so much for just three short words, the key component communicated one of understanding. ‘I see you’ really said “I’m stopping and taking time to connect with you, your life, who you are AND I care.”
For me it is surely one of the more magical lines of the movie, said many times, as it also espouses the connectedness and community that existed within this magical tribe who completely understood we truly are all connected and to ‘see’ each other was so important that it had to be recognised in such a powerful ‘standard’ greeting.
I’m not suggesting you go out and start greeting people with “I see you”, you might get arrested! However today, let’s look at ourselves and reinvigorate our “How are you”. The first challenge I have is actually use those words, it asks a commitment from the speaker if nothing else. Then lets learn something that’s very real from the very fictional Na’vi people and when we greet people, let’s communicate all that I believe the Na’vi tried to with their greeting. You never know you might connect with someone, a team member, friend, boss. Maybe even your son, daughter, father, mother, wife or husband who really needed you to stop and care. You might even change someone’s life. That’s what leaders do.
So, how are you?
Read this book…
… please! Anyone in leadership should read this, which is anyone in life, for shouldn’t our lives be a constant reflection of someone seeking to live the best life they can, which is to lead with our life? If you are looking for an incredible book, even if you aren’t, even if you haven’t ever made the effort to read a book of this type – make this your first.
It challenged, helped, and moved me. It flushed me out from hiding places built up over time, yes I was self deceived, shock horror! Are you?
It was powerful.
Not compelling enough? Check out this related video about Ignaz Semmelweis:
Love to know if you like/read/have read it and are you brave enough to share about it as we all try to help each other out of the box and…
PS – Don’t think you ‘have time’ to read. Get on an audio book tool and start learning, growing, changing in ‘dead time’, driving by yourself, doing lawns and so on.
I was moved to post about this today as I feel leaders are intricately connected with such a message. True leaders don’t hide behind “I’m a big picture kinda guy”, or “That’s too small an issue for me to be bothered with” as an excuse to miss important things for those they lead. They understand the power of intricacy in people’s lives and that they are an interwoven collection of small events.
The thing that moved me was Kirk Weisler’s T4D:
Two bits of magic for me. Almost felt like the crux of the whole thing in terms of ‘living’ life instead of ‘surviving’ it…
“Many of life’s treasures remain hidden from us simply because we never search for them.”
And on the ‘small stuff’, how important it is to recognise how often the ‘small stuff’ is actually the small people in our lives. They want to share what we rate a ‘small’ story about something ‘small’ that happened to them that day, or a ‘small’ picture about something you can’t even make out that seems pretty ‘small’ at the time they bring it. You see the problem is, we are on the wrong side of our eyeballs (thanks to ‘Crucial Conversations for that gem) and for our child, this is the biggest moment of their day, bringing something to Mum or Dad and sharing it with them. The story they are telling is at the deepest core of their being, the thing that happened was huge. The picture was something they put everything they had into and it’s contents depict something immense, the artistry of their soul… and the mistake we can make, we continue with what we were in the middle of and we say “Not now son… I’m busy”. Then later in life we wonder why our children are too busy to talk to us, don’t want to share their lives with us – it’s because we trained them that way. We blink and we miss life, one ‘small moment’ at a time, a million blinks at a time. We never stopped and searched for that magic – bringing it full circle to the first quote.
When the little things present themselves in our lives that seem unimportant, remember to…