Three Things I Would Tell My Young Self as a Leader
I know it’s crazy, and not real, but if there were such a thing as time travel and we could go back, there would be a lot of reasons why we would want to turn back the dial. One of the reasons I would love to go back would be to talk to my younger self. There are a lot of things I would love to tell my younger self because as the old saying goes “Hindsight is 20/20.” We all know that the right or best thing to do is much more evident after a situation has happened, but it’s harder to know what the right thing is when you are going through it. Having gone through our life experiences, and knowing what we know now, I am sure we would make different choices and handle things differently than we did in the past. If I could go back and talk to my younger self from the perspective of leadership, these are some of the things I would say.
- Value And Build Relationships
For most of my life I have been impatient. I have always been more of a performance-based, task-oriented person. Most of the time, I have focused on the task at hand and how to complete it only to go on to the next task not necessarily having time for people and their problems. If I could go back, I would tell myself that leadership, programs, and preaching are important, but the most important thing is to value and build relationships. I would tell my younger self that even though it is hard to understand, there will come a day when relationships are more important than the task at hand. I would also tell my younger self that not many, if any, person has ever gotten to their death bed and wished they had worked more hours or completed more at work. However, there have been many who have regrets of not working on and enjoying the relationships they have. The advice I would give my younger self is that the most important part of your career and life are the relationships that you establish and that you should treasure each and everyone more.
- Sometimes Less Is More
Don’t try to be a Jack-of-all-Trades. Focus on being good at a few things. Sometimes hard work is wasted when you are focused in too many directions. There are times you have to do things you don’t want to do because they have to be done, but focus most of your time on the things that you like. Things that you like and enjoy doing most are the things that you are called and gifted to do. As a leader, lean into your strengths and as much as possible delegate your weaknesses. It is not being lazy to focus only on doing what only you can do. This is a good use of your gifts. As a leader, when you delegate your weaknesses you are empowering others.
- Learn From Mistakes
Mistakes and failures are inevitable. Only the people who don’t do anything are the ones who don’t make mistakes. Learn from your mistakes and keep growing. I would tell my younger self about the lesson learned from Thomas Edison. One day when Mr. Edison and an assistant were working on an invention, the assistant became very discouraged because of the mistakes, errors and false starts. He told Mr. Edison that they had made over 700 mistakes. Mr. Edison said, “We have not made 700 mistakes but have acquired an education as to what would not work.” After being educated on hundreds of more things that didn’t work, Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. It’s safe to say that if each of us took that approach to life, we would see mistakes as an education and learn from them, move forward and accomplish much more.