Why Leaders Shouldn’t Go the Extra Mile

finish-line

Guest post by Alain Hunkins

My head was in a fog.

I could barely move.

All I wanted to do was sleep.

This wasn’t my usual week.

I was in the throes of a particularly brutish cold.

And still- I had stuff to get done.

All the momentum on my projects ground to a halt.

I didn’t feel like doing anything.

In fact, for two days, I couldn’t even think about thinking about anything.

Then I remembered: The project team.

Ugh.

Just the week before,  I’d led a ten person team to the successful end of an 18 month project.

We were the search committee charged to find and hire a new executive director of a non-profit organization.  I was the chair of the committee.

My “ugh” was because I’d meant to write thank you notes to everyone on the team. I’d wanted to create a great experience of closure for everyone.

But right now, at this moment, making the effort to write notes was the last thing I wanted to do.

Little pesky thoughts went through my head:

  • I don’t really have to do this.
  • They know I appreciate them.
  • No one is writing me a thank you note.
  • I don’t get paid to do this.
  • I’ve got other things to do.

I sat with these little gremlins for a while.  At first, they had a pretty compelling argument.

I honestly didn’t feel like doing any of this.

Then I remembered something a mentor told me a long time ago:

Leadership isn’t how you feel, it’s how you make others feel.

Don’t Go The Extra Mile

I thought back on some of the best leaders I’d known and worked with.   From my point of view, they never seemed to make an “extra” effort.

They didn’t go the extra mile.  They went the distance.

They just did what needed to be done.

The “extra” was part of who they were.

Then, I thought back to the search team.  Many members had worked long and hard for a long time to achieve success. What final message did I want to leave them with?

I set my timer, and got writing.

25 minutes.

That’s all it took to write out the nine cards.

In a surprise move, instead of draining me, once I got started, I found the process to be energizing.

One of my friends became a first time father last month at the age of 48.  He recently posted that:

My life has been reduced to sleep, eat & poop.

Welcome to parenting.  Rule #1: It’s not about you.  It’s about them.

Your baby doesn’t care how you feel.  He’s got a dirty diaper that needs changing.

Sometimes, leadership is not so different.

What do you do to sustain yourself when your “gremlins” tell you to stop short and give up?  Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.
Source: Alain Hunkins

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Author: Alain Hunkins

Alain Hunkins leads personal and professional development trainings for individuals, teams and organizations. Over the last two decades, Alain has facilitated for over a thousand groups, ranging from at-risk youth to Fortune 500 executives. He moves between the educational, artistic, not-for-profit, government and corporate worlds. His corporate clients span nearly every industry. Companies include: Reckitt-Benckiser, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Pfizer, Citigroup, United Technologies and Coach. Alain is currently Senior Facilitator & Vice President, Business Development for Eagle’s Flight. His work has taken him to nearly every state in the USA, as well as Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Belgium, Britain, Ireland, Spain, Egypt, France, Italy, Switzerland, Hungary, South Africa, and Taiwan. Alain sharpened his facilitation skills as an Educational Consultant in New York City, developing programs on many subjects, including Conflict Resolution, Networking, Customer Service, Communication, and Leadership. Alain earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Amherst College and his Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin/Milwaukee Professional Theater Training Program. He is a certified Leadership Challenge & MBTI facilitator, as well as a certified co-leader for ManKind Project International, whose mission is to help men lead missions of service in their families, communities, and workplaces. A native of Queens, NY, Alain calls the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts home, where he faces his greatest leadership challenge yet: raising his young children, Alexander & Miranda. Alain completed the New Warrior Training Adventure in 1995.

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