New Year, New You (…Hopefully)

During his comedy special, Hilarious, Louie CK refers to people today as spoiled by information, often not appreciating the incredible privileges that technology has afforded us. Louie reminisces about the time before the internet existed, when we had to actively seek information on a particular topic through “inconvenient avenues,” like encyclopedias or individuals with specific expertise. It was a hilarious commentary on our society obsessed with instant gratification. As the saying goes, “everyone wants everything, and they want it yesterday.”

There are occasions in which “quick fixes” can be applied for Leadership development. For example, paraphrasing and clearly stating your intentions are techniques that can be immediately applied, and if properly executed, make a huge impact within your organization.

But the truth is, if we want greater knowledge and wisdom on areas of leadership that are deeply rooted within our being, we cannot rely on quick fixes like Wikipedia or Google. We must go through a process of research, analysis, and learning. This is especially true of shifting characterological behaviors and emotional intelligence—traits that require depth and purpose. I enjoy using the “hunter vs farmer” comparison to describe this dynamic. As a hunter, you are actively seeking your food. Farmers on the other hand, plant seeds and cultivate their crops to develop for a bountiful harvest. Yes, both the hunter and farmer obtain sustenance, but the returns differ. For some, leadership and emotional intelligence develop quickly as insights or quick tools.  Personality and character development require a daily journey of professional and personal application, in which we will rise and fall. Patience is key. When we are patient and self-reflective, the challenges we often tuck away and don’t ever want to address will surface. We allow ourselves to lower our shields of insecurity, with hopes of greater individual growth.

I’ll explain what I mean using an example of a client who was more attracted to life hacks rather than believing in the process. Emma, the manager of a travel company, came to me to improve her leadership skills. She anticipated that becoming a better leader would allow her to stand out when applying for a highly-coveted promotion. Emma is a very sharp and capable professional. I was especially impressed by the energy and passion she brought into the room. Everything about Emma screamed executive! After three coaching sessions, it was surprisingly evident that there was still much work to be done. Emma seemed very impatient with the developmental process. In fact, at the end of every coaching session, Emma would consistently ask me, “Are there any tricks I can use to better myself?”

She did great with the tips and tricks for quick improvement. But much of our work was also character-based, which required due diligence, backstory, and intentional dialogue. So, I brought up my worries to her. Emma quickly saw how she was trying to “hack” the process of development, which made a big impact on her. Since then, she has been much more intentional about taking the road less traveled and focusing on her struggles one day at a time. She even admitted that the promotion was not as important as her new-found ability to “grow herself.”

As we begin a new year, stop compromising quality for convenience. Believe in the process. It will be worth the wait.

What are areas in your life that you prefer convenience over quality? What are you sacrificing when you make that choice?


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