Why scream at empty vessels?

Well he’s done it again!  Marshall Goldsmith has written a fantastic short blog which is spot on…those of you who are getting your heads around the 3 Principles will surely see how this resonates with how our “thinking” creates our “consciousness” (our experience of the world).

Enjoy the read and watch out for those empty vessels!

Warmly

Antony


One of my favorite stories is a lesson about taking responsibility for our own lives. It is about learning to respond rather than react when we are confronted by “life”. I heard this simple Buddhist story many years ago, and it goes like this:

rowboatA young farmer paddled his boat vigorously up river. He was covered with sweat as he paddled his boat upstream to deliver his produce to the village. It was a hot day, and he wanted to make his delivery and get home before dark. As he looked ahead, he spied another vessel, heading rapidly downstream toward his boat. He rowed furiously to get out of the way, but it didn’t seem to help.

He shouted, “Change direction! You are going to hit me!” The boat came straight towards him anyway. It hit his boat with a violent thud. The young man cried out, “You idiot! How could you manage to hit my boat in the middle of this wide river?”

As he glared into the boat, seeking out the individual responsible for the accident, he realised that there was no one. He had been screaming at an empty boat that had broken free of its moorings and was floating downstream with the current.

The interesting thing is that we behave one way when we believe that there is another person at the helm. We blame that stupid, uncaring person for our misfortune. We get angry, act out, assign fault, and play the victim. In other words, we are not engaged in a positive way for ourselves, but in a negative and defensive way that makes nothing better!

We behave more calmly when we know that what is coming towards us is an empty boat. With no available scapegoat, we don’t get upset. We make peace with the fact that our misfortune was the result of fate or bad luck and we do our best to rectify the situation. We may even laugh at the absurdity of a random unmanned boat finding a way to collide with us in a vast body of water.

The challenge for all of us is to recognise that there’s never really anyone in the other boat. We are always screaming at an empty vessel. An empty boat isn’t targeting us. And neither are all the people creating the sour notes in the soundtrack of our day. If we start treating all boats as empty, we will have no other choice but to

1) accept what is and

2) change what we can change.

It is up to us to choose how we react to the empty boats in our lives. We can either yell and scream at the empty boats and endure the collision or choose to get out of the way the best we can, accepting what happens, and do our best to continue on our way along the river.

5 Ways to Become a Better Leader

Leader vs follower conceptOne of the people, whose blogs I like to read, is Marshall Goldsmith.  Marshall is one of the top executive coaches in the world, coaching the likes of the Walmart CEO, Pfizer CEO and Ford CEO to name but a few.  He is a wise man, a great speaker and has also written some fantastic books (have you read “What got you here won’t get you there!”?  You must!!!)

For this week’s blog, I thought I’d simply share some wise words from Marshall and 5 simple steps to becoming a better leader- if you are working with us on one of our Leadership Development Programmes and/or on the receiving end of our mentoring, then do pick these concepts up with your mentor/coach.  Please do read on…over to Marshall!


5 Ways to become a Better Leader

It’s an age-old question: Are we influenced more by nature or nurture? Applied to leadership, the question becomes: Are great leaders born or made? It’s one of the most frequently asked questions in leadership development.

Let’s start with the definition of “leader.” My good friend and mentor, Dr. Paul Hersey, defined leadership as “working with and through others to achieve objectives.” Given this definition, anyone in a position whose achievement requires support from others can play the role of a leader. I love this definition because it supports the philosophy of “leadership at all levels,” which is so critical in today’s world of knowledge workers.

Indeed, millions of people who are currently working with and though others to achieve objectives are already leaders. Whether they think of themselves as leaders (not to mention whether they are fantastic or disastrous leaders) is another issue.

So, can people who are already working to influence others become more effective leaders? The answer is an unqualified “yes.”

My partner, Howard Morgan, and I conducted an extensive study on leadership development programs involving more than 86,000 participants in eight major corporations. Our findings were so conclusive that they are almost impossible to dispute. Leaders who participated in a development program, received 360-degree feedback, selected important areas for improvement, discussed these with co-workers, and followed-up with them on a consistent basis (to check on progress) were rated as becoming dramatically better leaders—not in a self-assessment, but in appraisals from co-workers—6 to 18 months after the initial program. (If you’d like a copy of this study, you can find it here.

So, what did we conclude are the five ways to become a better leader?

Leaders who participated in the same developmental programs and received the same type of feedback—but did not follow-up—were, seen as, improving by no more than random chance would imply. Here are some specific ways to increase your leadership effectiveness:

born or made

Are leaders born or made?

  1. Get 360-degree feedback on your present level of effectiveness, as judged by co-workers you respect.
  2. Pick the most important behaviors for change—those you believe will enhance your effectiveness as a leader—e.g., “become a more effective listener” or “make decisions in a timelier manner”).
  3. Periodically ask co-workers for suggestions on how you can do an even better job in your selected behaviors for change.
  4. Listen to their ideas—don’t promise to change everything—and make the changes that you believe will further increase your effectiveness.
  5. Follow-up and measure change in your effectiveness over time.

Are leaders born or made? If you are working with and through others to achieve objectives, you are already a leader. Can you become a more effective leader? Definitely.