Thinking you are the only one who can get things done is a sure recipe for failure. Feeling comfortable asking for help is a sign of INPowerment. Successful people get others involved in their projects.
A good leader knows whom to ask for help.
I’ve tried it both ways, and believe me, my projects are more successful when I engage others. Here is my secret: I ask for help. I share my idea or explain my project, then I ask others if they would like to help and how they would like to help.
It’s amazing that when I go looking for help, I meet amazing people doing amazing things. So many people have talents and skills to offer, and they will, if asked. I gratefully take what ever assistance I can get. Some of them even ask me for help, and I’m honored to give it.
Synergy can only happen when two or more individuals team up. The back and forth of partnering generates more ideas, more connections, more resources.
When others help, some of them will enroll in your project. They will identify with it to the point that they become emotionally and psychologically involved. When that happens, share the credit, and you have a loyal companion in future endeavors.
President Harry Truman, was famous for saying, “You can accomplish anything you want if you do not care who gets the credit.”
I believe the goal is more important than the glory.
And besides, if you accomplish your goal alone, you have no one to celebrate with when you reach it.
Asking for help turns out to be one of the genius moves I have made in projects that were otherwise withering as a solo act.
Asking for help is INPowering
I am an idea guy. I like to do big things.
Through trial and error I’ve learned to mesh the big idea with the small steps. Like many who have come to their senses about this, before I jump head-long into a big project, I spend some time thinking about the small steps I must take to get it done.
Little by little
The value of the small step is that I can often do it quickly, and I can tell that I have done it. Check it off the list: done. And that feels real good. There’s an immediate reward and a sense of both accomplishment and momentum.
When I was younger I wanted to write books, but I didn’t know how, and it seemed like a pipe dream that was out of reach for me. Now, I’ve written four with a fifth one in the works. I write and self-publish all my training courses and certify instructors to present them. I blog. I podcast. And I’m helping to grow a network of Millennial leaders emerging onto the scene across Oklahoma.
How do I get all this done? One step at a time.
Do I have every step identified and planned out? No way! But I have a pretty good idea of what needs to get done. I know what I can do now, and I do it.
First things first
Sometimes I realize that I needed to do something else first. I learn from the mistake, which causes me to review my list and see if there are any other instances of overlooked first steps. After going through that a few times, it’s become more automatic for me to pause and ask if there is anything I need to do first, so I can accomplish that task effectively and not waste time and resources.
You see, when ever you set out to do anything, there is usually something else that needs to be done first. Another small step.
I’ve learned that several small steps add up to a significant milestone. Like in my writing, I sketch out an overview of where I want the story to end up. I chunk the story into smaller bits and make some notes about what the scenes might be. I make some notes about plot, the sequence of the scenes, and characters involved. Then I get started and see what happens. I tweak as I go.
Before too long, I have the story pretty well shaped. Then I go back and revise.
Small steps. Getting even the smallest next step done is a thrill. And that goes to my basic approach to everything, which is to finish the day a little better off than when I started it.
Perspective is your physical relationship to information. You cannot have multiple perspectives by sitting in the comfort of your office, or your home, or in the company of your closest friends and ruminating about the world out there. You must go out there and get in the middle of the action.
Perspective is vantage point
The vantage point from which you experience a situation is your perspective. If you are a new employee in a large company, you cannot have the same vantage point as the CEO or even your immediate supervisor because you are not in their position.
The converse also is true. Just because you were once a new employee does not mean you fully understand what it’s like to be a new employee now. Your experience once upon a time is not exactly the same as that experience today.
Perspectives are experienced
You cannot have the perspective of what it’s like to be a person of color living in a white dominated society if you are not a person of color, and vice versa.
You cannot understand the terror of being told you have cancer unless you have experienced that conversation.
If you are financially secure, you cannot understand the gut-wrenching feeling of knowing you have a mortgage or a rent to pay and you have just lost your job and have no savings.
You cannot understand the world of affluence and high society if you do not have the wealth that gives you access to it.
You cannot understand what it’s like to be me because you are not me. And vice versa.
You don’t understand
A friend told me, “You don’t understand what it’s like to be a teacher these days.” They were right. I had never experienced it, so I became a substitute teacher to get a different perspective. It wasn’t the same as, but it helped.
The point is, you cannot have a perspective that you have not experienced. So before you say, “I understand what it’s like,” stop and consider how your experiences compare.
Sympathy is lip service; empathy is a shared experience.
Get up close and personal
I cannot be a person of color, but I can befriend people of color and hang out with them in their places. I can become friends with their friends and try to understand as closely as possible their circumstances.
The television series Undercover Boss showed the mismatch of perspectives and mutual understanding by placing the boss in the employee’s daily environment. The results were amusing and eye opening.
A CEO client once told me how he stayed close to his employees by walking through his plant every day. The problem was, he didn’t spend any time with any one person. Consequently, his employees perceived him as too busy to stop and understand what was going on. I wonder if it would have been more effective to spend an hour a day in one work area interacting more personally with the workers who spent full-time there? And what if he brought one employee a week to shadow him for a couple of days as CEO? Perhaps they would take a different story back to their co-workers from the experience.
I’m not high on critics, because most critics sit in judgement of things they have not done themselves.
I recommend opening yourself to as many experiences as possible. Expand the borders of your comfort world by experiencing, as much as you can, the world in which others live every day.
Accountability is a 100-percent situation: either I did, or I did not. As the Star Wars character Yoda, said, “Do or do not. There is no try.”
Willingness is at the core of accountability.
I must be willing to do what it takes to get what I want. Otherwise I cannot hope to succeed. If I have all the resources and support I need, but lack the desire, I will come up short.
I will settle for something less than intended. The danger with that is that I will convince myself that close enough is the same as fully successful. Little by little, I delude myself into believing that I am doing my best when I am far from it.
How bad do you want it?
There is no aspect of my life that is not affected by this: work, finances, health, relationships, you name it.
Accountability is keeping the promises made to yourself.
Any promise I have made to someone else I also made to myself. I am committed to stepping up no matter what. When I don’t, I take the hit.
So I have to ask myself, “How badly to I want to be healthy? How badly do I want to grow my business? How badly do I want my marriage to be amazing? How badly do I want the respect of my friends and peers? How badly am I willing to do what it takes to make all that happen?”
There is no one else to do my part of the heavy lifting. Others might help out at times, but there is no walking away from the task until it is accomplished.
Be excellent to yourself
I deserve excellence. Don’t you? One of my tenets for living the INPowered life is to be excellent to myself. I am accountable for doing just that.
There is leverage and freedom in being accountable. Click here to see what I mean.
I am still learning how to use accountability to make my life better–to be more INPowered. I have renewed my promise to eat excellent food, and by that I mean more healthful food. No more junk food or comfort food as my main course. I also have renewed my promise to walk at least 12 miles a week. I deserve good health, and I alone am accountable for my wellness.
I urge you to accept my accountability challenge and live the excellent life you deserve.
Tom McDaniel chairs the citizens advisory board for the Oklahoma City MAPs-3 initiative (Metropolitan Area Projects). The MAPs project has revitalized an urban center from the verge of blight in the 1980s to a teeming destination location with sports venues, convention space, improvements to public schools, and other major infrastructure improvements.
A vibrant downtown area is emerging with retail, hospitality, entertainment, sports, and residential space. Oklahoma City is quickly becoming one of the nation’s most attractive cities for Millennials and young professionals.
Follow the podcast using the pdf listening guide. Click the listening guide icon below.
In this episode of The Spirit of Leading, Tom discusses the transformational impact the project’s three iterations. Tom also discusses his approach to leading the citizens advisory board and the value of citizen involvement and collaboration with the elected city officials and other interest groups in the community.
The Oklahoma City MAPS-3 project
Background of the OKC MAPs project
OK Cleats4 Kids Foundation, founded by Tom’s son and daughter-in-law, Mark and Stacy McDaniel
I’ve experienced the good, the bad, and the ugly of job situations. The overwhelming majority have been of the good variety. I’ve been very fortunate to get the boss’s attention and have excellent working relationships with all but one of my bosses.
I’ve also been the boss. And I can speak from experience about those who got my attention. In this episode of The Spirit of Leading, I list three qualities that worked for me and that I appreciated in others.
You can read the details in the about tab of my blogsite. Suffice it to say I’ve had the good fortune of being selected to board positions of my professional associations and civic groups. I’ve led important projects in my organizations. I’ve enjoyed several management leadership positions.
Through it all I would have to say I was successful because I got the attention of managers and leaders above me, and I did not realize they even noticed. I deeply appreciated and valued my relationship with those managers.
I believe anyone who follows these three tips will be noticed by her or his boss and enjoy the opportunity to step up and lead in their organization.