Like many years ago, I suddenly have an urge to clear my mind and get things in order, so here are a few reflections from the past few months that had me spinning like a ceiling fan (because that’s the fastest thing I can think of at the moment).
Reflection #1: Leadership isn’t about whether you can do it all, because you probably can, but whether you choose to or not.
I know, a little confusing; let me elaborate. I’ll use personal examples because, well, that’s how I got to this conclusion in the first place. If there’s anything I’ve learnt in the past year, it’s that I have a tendency of accepting any responsibilities (asied from home) given to me, whether I can actually do it or not. Not always, I’m not that extreme, but you get the gist of it. It slowly started dawning on me that it didn’t matter whether I took up everything thrown at me – I’d make a mess of things, stretch myself until there was (nearly) nothing left to salvage, and worst of all, disappoint people (yes, I know my priorities are messed up). At the end of the day, nothing would be done, and my subconscious heroic act of accepting all tasks would turn out to be a foolish act of an ignorant child. That’s not leadership, that’s stupidity.
So what I’m getting at is, you haven’t even begun to start tasting the practice of leadership if you haven’t had to choose what to do and what not to, which tasks to give your attention to and which ones to delegate. Now that I’m writing this, it seems so silly to me that hadn’t known this before. But then again, I wasn’t born with infinite wisdom on the art of leadership, so I’m just glad I came to this realization.
Reflection #2: What you choose to do defines you as a leader, but more importantly, defines what you represent as a whole. Sadly, not everyone will see it the way you do.
Sometimes, you’ll be the one stuck smack at the centre of all the commotion and chaos, being tugged from all directions to fulfill people’s wishes (voices and all that, in BBLT terminology). You can do all the strategic planning in the world, or ‘go with your gut’ – or both – and you’ll still be judged. You can choose to focus short-term over long-term, process over results, people over actions – either way, even if you find a balance, you WILL leave a trail of grumbling crowd reluctant to go along. Even someone with the same vision as you may misinterpret – or simply just fight the adaptive challenge – your actions and hold a grudge.
My point? As hard as I may have tried, it seems impossible at some points in life to get people who agree with sustainability to work toward it, because it’s too difficult to break out of a habit and develop a new one. I can advocate for it all I want, and it may even reflect well upon my community, but at the end of the day, it’s the people’s work, and they won’t be happy about it.
I’m beginning to realize how bitter this piece is sounding, so maybe I’ll put in some positive thoughts…
Reflection #3: Once you find those people who stand by you through thick and thin, or as you may hear in BBLT. ‘allies’, you should probably try to hold on to them.
Reflection #3: Allies are important.
The rough journey of trying to exercise leadership will lead to numerous failures, which will eventually lead to success of sorts. At the very low points, you’ll be bitter and potentially push people away. Don’t. That’s probably a bigger mistake than the one in Reflection #1. With your allies by your side, you don’t even have to know if you can fall – you’ll want to try harder anyway, because as relieving as it may be to share failures, it’s exhilarating to share a success with those who stood by you. If I didn’t have friends who shared my views/responsibilities/experiences in all sectors of life – family, education (getting into a public university in Bangladesh!), work, etc. – I wouldn’t find a reason to even try.
In other words, they’re your support system, and without them, you’re more likely to fall apart than not.
Reflection #4: Asking questions, reflecting, evaluating is all good, until it’s not.
I was introduced to the world of evaluation some time ago, and it’s gotten a very strong hold on me ever since. I ask myself how well I’m doing, the whole process of pros and cons, what I’m doing right and what I’m doing wrong – I even make a point to write it all down sometimes, to track my progress (okay, so I’m not THAT crazy about it – I’ve only written it down once or twice). It took me a very long time to realize it, but I was stuck in my reflections for so long that it seemed like a part of the world had passed me by. I was going round in circles asking my self the same things, but not doing anything more. Sometimes, you have to get back on the dance floor, however much you may enjoy the balcony.
I’ve shared some views, talked a whole lot, and now, it’s time I get back on my dance floor for good and put some of these reflections to the test. I do wish others would share their views here at the BYLC blog, though. Please keep in mind this is in no way a look into BBLT, BYLC, or anything else I’m affiliated with, and definitely no solution manual to leadership problems. In case it didn’t hit you, I’m not exactly a ‘leader’ – just a BBLT graduate looking out a few windows from my comfort zone.
Until next time,
Graduate, BBLT 3