Turning Into A Leader Today
After a recent surf session, I paused to admire the beautiful head-high waves rolling in. It was a peaceful moment on a fall day during yet another surreal election season.
As I took in the entire scene, directly in front of me seven young men were teaching each other to do standing backflips in the sand.
Doing a standing back flip is not easy physically. It’s even harder mentally if you haven’t yet succeeded. There’s little room for error. Flip too short; you land on your back or head. Flip too far, and you might do a faceplant. Flip just right; it’s exhilarating.
That they taught each other and succeeded in doing back flips was fascinating. How they did it was what impressed me. While there was nervousness, there wasn’t cajoling, teasing, or shaming. They didn’t do it to impress people or gain “InstaFame.” They did it, seemingly, for fun and adventure. And they did it with support, patience, and daring.
Amidst another contentious and bravado-filled election season, the communal support of these young men was a refreshing expression of the path of communal growth and learning. I don’t mean to exclude women from this moment, as what may have been so unique to this group of men is they apply more feminine approaches — support and camaraderie — to learning and growth. Unfortunately, it’s a rarity among men.
THREE REMINDERS FROM THESE YOUNG MEN.
Growth happens in your discomfort zone.
Risk is the threshold to growth. If we stay in our comfort zone, we won’t grow. But if we step into our discomfort zone near-daily invitations show up, so staying curious and open cultivates growth.
When we’re at the edges of our discomfort we can experience imposter syndrome – the feeling that we’ll be discovered as a fraud. One way to reframe imposter syndrome is to see it as an indicator that you’re at the edge of your growth.
Learning and growing in public doesn’t have to happen with shame.
Thanks, in part, to Brené Brown, we’ve culturally pulled shame from the shadows. Too often, shame comes from the words and actions of others publicly within our families, culture, and community. I know this from my upbringing, and I suspect you’ve experienced it, too.
We accelerate healthy learning and chance-taking in safe environments by fostering a supportive community and surrounding ourselves with supportive people. Support heals our shame. We all have a choice to support one another in teaching and learning situations.
The Power of “We Did This!”
The words “I did this!” carry chance-taking, action, and accomplishment within them. Certainly potent and well worth celebrating.
“We did this!” is even more powerful, as it carries a communal generosity of spirit.
Collective effervescence is the joie de vivre that spreads through a culture, community or team in sync. Collective effervescence may be the secret sauce to how cultures and communities can move the world forward in common cause, be it seven young men learning together, or your team that’s looking to move your company purpose, mission or vision forward toward a greater future.
“It is not the critic who counts…The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,” Teddy Roosevelt reminds us. Opposite of the critic lives the supporter. One remedy to the fears of risk-taking in public may be the love and joy that’s enlivened through collective effervescence.
Risk-taking in public is a rare and beautiful thing. These young men showed me that learning risk-taking in public could be a refreshing and vital form of collective effervescence.
While I cannot do a backflip, I learned from watching that you must gain enough vertical height and then commit your body to flip entirely around to land safely. “Aim high and commit” might be good rules to live by.
QUESTIONS FOR ALL OF US WHO ARE STILL COMING OF AGE
WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF…
- …We supported others when we knew they were in their discomfort zone?
- …We stood by and cheered on those in the arena?
- …We aimed higher and asked more of ourselves and others?
- …We fully committed to our worthy aspirations?
- …We give more, serve more, teach more, and critique less?
Author 3-Way conversation — Making Design Matter
With Debbie Millman, Justin Ahrens, and Steven Morris.
Live & Virtual Event via Zoom — Monday, December 19, 10 am ET / 9 am CT / 7 am PT, 2022
If you want to minimize risk, work with a professional. If you want extraordinary results, work with an expert.
The predicament of all entrepreneurs and business leaders is to integrate reality and possibility. We must work with our business realities to manage our day-to-day operation. We must work with possibility to envision and create our future.
Perhaps, it is designers, in the highest professional sense, that are best trained and equipped to help usher in a new reality — for business, society, and the world.
Debbie Millman and Justin Ahrens are experts in shaping envisioned futures through design and beyond. Debbie and Justin are trained designers, experienced entrepreneurs, and impact pioneers who have spent decades honing and transcending their craft.
Debbie is the author of seven books, including her most recent, Why Design Matters, and host of the wildly successful podcast Design Matters, which Apple designated one of their “All Time Favorite Podcasts.”
Justin is the co-founder and Chief Brand Officer of Rule29. He lives the firm’s philosophy of Making Creative Matter®. His design for good project Wheels4Water helped over 19,500 Africans get life-saving clean water. He’s the author of Life Kerning and host of the DesignOf podcast.
Your truly, Steven Morris, will host this conversation. During this live discussion we will explore what design (really) is and why it (really) matters in today’s quickly changing world.
The conversation will be live via Zoom, seating is limited. We’ll record the conversation for those who register.
Grab your coffee, bring your questions, and join us on Monday, December 19, 10 am ET / 9 am CT / 7 am PT, 2022
If you want a more trusting team, a culture of belonging or a magnetic brand that attracts more of the right customers, I can help. If you'd like to explore if working together makes sense, drop me a line.