It’s hard to wish and wish and wish, only to feel like you are the unluckiest wish maker that walked the earth. Why is it that some people seem to have all the luck?
But is wish making really about luck? Or is it about your ability to crystallise one thing worth wishing for, and then find a way to go after it?
There’s a simple beauty in making a wish. Birthday candles, dandelions and wishing bones. All times that offer pause to pinpoint that twinkle in your eye.
If you look closely though, in the breath of a dandelion you’ll find hundreds of new wishes born and ready to be discovered. By the sheer momentum of action, your wish fragments into millions of tiny little pieces that seed the next steps to be taken.
Some people are naturally lucky. Annoying fact. Most people need to rely less on luck and more on themselves. For in the days spent waiting for your lucky stars to align you have lost time and potential defining moments that you can never get back.
Next time you make a wish you should still absolutely aim for the stars, but be willing to then make a plan that relies only on you working your booty off to get there. Then, and really only then, is the sky the limit.
Someone close to me recently asked what I would do if I removed fear from the life equation I was struggling with. Fear of failing, fear of disappointing people, fear of making money, fear of doing the wrong thing by my kids and family. Fear, fear, fear. She’s a friend and a very successful businesswoman who I trust greatly as a professional advisor. I found my instantaneous answer clear and enlightening.
I realised in that moment the power fear can hold over you, if you let it. I also realised that all of the things I feared were born out of the pressure I placed on myself to avoid taking too big a risk. If I removed that I was left with excitement, energy and a vision for the opportunities that were right before me.
If you’re weighing up a big decision, ask yourself what you would do if fear didn’t play a role and see where you land. It was amazing to me how quickly I was able to clearly see through the clutter of all the variables.
In the end, to be remarkable at anything I truly believe there needs to be an element of risk and fear. It’s there that you find the kind of greatness most people aren’t willing to be uncomfortable for.
If you are a parent and have asked yourself “how did I think I was busy before kids?”, you wouldn’t be alone. I ask myself this all the time. The hours I squandered being ‘busy’ before kids is now laughable. You soon realise that parenting is a second full time job in and of itself. It also becomes quickly apparent that it’s one of the most powerful motivators for being organised and getting things done – simply because you have no choice.
Parenting also teaches you that there is no perfect time for anything. Kids are impulsive and primal beings; looking for satisfaction, food, water and assistance at the very moment they decide it is required. You learn to be flexible and to plan ahead.
Life is busy, but I genuinely believe parenting and the craziness of it all has made me better at my job. Here are 3 reasons why:
- Effective decision-making: as a parent, there’s just not the time to deliberate over small decisions. Family life is fast moving and that means extensive experience making quick, executive decisions and following them through. This is an essential skill when managing projects and adapting to new situations in the workplace.
- Keeping calm in times of crisis: the ability to focus through the mayhem of tantrums and the constant craziness (read stress) of parenting often means you can quickly separate the wheat from the chaff and aren’t as easily flustered in the face of a crisis. This cool attitude is a huge asset in a busy work environment and makes parents stand out from the crowd.
- Top notch negotiation skills: who would have thought that negotiating bedtimes with your toddler could benefit your career? Not me, but the ultimate manipulator that lives in my house has given me a whole new perspective. It’s safe to say, strong negotiation skills filter into every part of business and a tenacious, committed approach to negotiating goes a long way.
I have conversations all the time with parents who have been off work for a year or longer and they are convinced they have lost their professional value. There’s so many reasons, including the three above, that I would argue this is completely untrue. The skills you learn as a parent are often a compliment to those you have already built in the workplace. Make them work for you.
I have had the good fortune of working with some incredibly gracious, generous and inspiring leaders. They have meant more to my career than I can probably yet predict.
What I can predict is how important their guidance and operational style has been to my understanding of what really makes a good leader.
Time. Everyone is time poor. A good leader understands this and treats everyone’s time with respect, regardless of their position in the company. This includes giving time to those who need you, especially for mentoring or decision-making. There has been nothing more frustrating to me than a leader who demands something for urgent review and then takes a lifetime to review it. Without explanation, that’s just rude. Everyone is busy, including the people below you. It’s also been empowering to watch a select few inspiring people continue to treat those below them with the respect most leaders reserve only for the c-suite. It’s incredibly powerful to see what that means to the people in a business.
There are many facets, but at the core I truly believe one of the most important characteristics of a good leader has to be the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes… especially those beneath you. There you will find a group of ambitious, dedicated and hard working people who are at the forefront of your business and its ability to operate. They have ideas, often big ideas and they can understandably resent not having an avenue to share them. They also see the things that don’t work very quickly, simply because it’s their day-to-day jobs that are often affected by decisions at the top.
Understanding who people really are and what they really do should be mandatory for making good, sound strategic decisions. Without this understanding it is easy to lose touch with what makes the wheel turn and how long tasks really take.
No good leader is born at the top. I’m hugely grateful to all of my mentors for reminding me what matters, their endless graciousness and the time and experiences they have shared with me… even when I was the person with the least power.