You’re Right

Retro Car Ford T Model 1908

Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right. — Henry Ford

Ole’ Henry, and many other successful entrepreneurs, ultimately “made it” because they truly believed, deep down in their bones, that they could do it. Their conviction, their strength of will, propelled them forward when conventional wisdom would have told them to throw in the towel.

The lens you use makes all the difference. Two people can look at the exact same variables and one can come up with a laundry list of why it won’t work, another can focus on the things they are going to do so it will work. It is all about attitude.

I recently wrote about the power to choose. I’m talking about something slightly different, and more elusive here. Even when you face the brutal facts of your situation, and chart a course forward, you still have to deal with the day in, day out chatter going on in your head. You know what I’m talking about . . . the alternating whispers of “you got this!” and “who are you kidding?” One energizes you, and the other sucks the life out of you. Nope, it’s not just you hearing those voices. And I’ll let you in on a little secret. The one you feed in to the most gets louder.

How do you feed into the competing tensions that make up your attitude? “Who are you kidding” gets stronger when you are tired, or stressed out, or scared. It pulls the plug on your energy at the same time it pushes you down the slippery slope of “you can’t slow down or it will all fall apart.” The antidote? Stop, breathe, and get out of your own head. Spend time with can-do people, or get outside. Step away from the desk and move. It is surprising how little it takes to quiet that annoying buzz. The trick is to recognize how loud it has gotten.

The good news . . . not only is it fairly easy to quiet your inner cynic, it also doesn’t take much to give a power surge to “you got this.” An encouraging comment, a sunny day, a few minutes of grateful reflection can all unleash your inner cheerleader. The trick is, you have to be aware of your inner soundtrack and make a decision. Even if you choose to fake it until you make it (which really works, by the way!), you have the ability to determine your attitude. And it’s not a one-time decision. Those whispers will be hanging out in your head every day. Every day you have to decide if you think you can, or you think you can’t . . . because the bottom line is, you’re right.

Acquiring a Taste for Sausage

Sausage On A ForkWhile I’m not a picky eater, I have never been fond of sausage. I attribute that to the fact that I’m a farm girl . . . and probably know just a little too much about what goes into sausage. Apparently, I’m not the only one.

I’ve often heard the legislative process compared to sausage-making, and I would put state-wide or national “systems change” in the same category. In each case, there are lots of different parts involved, and it’s not a pretty process, so it seems an apt comparison. Given that, why would a leader — who presumably has more than enough balls in the air inside their organization — go looking for other messy, time-consuming processes to insert themselves into outside their organization? No, insanity is not the word I was looking for here. Mission impact is.

Large-scale systemic change has the potential to impact far more lives than individual organizational actions, but it is not a task for the faint of heart. It takes the conviction to stand strong on principles, but be flexible on details . . .The patience to listen to divergent points of view and find common ground on which to build . . . The perseverance to invest the time and energy to wade through the sludge to get to a palatable product on the other side. And that can be a high price to pay when leaders are more often measured on their short-term outcomes than their long-term impact. (Okay, so maybe insanity is the right word.)

And yet, as I write this blog on an election day, the sentiment of “if you don’t participate in the system, you don’t have the right to criticize it” comes to mind. Is someone really a leader if he or she continuously points out the flaws in a system, and yet does nothing to try to impact change within that system? Don’t those who turn to us for care deserve to have us dream big dreams on their behalf, even if it means we have to put up with a bit of pain and suffering in the process? Think about it. If we aren’t around the table, how do we know that someone else will protect our mission on our behalf?

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I think sometimes leadership comes down to doing what your gut keeps telling you to do, even when you really don’t want to do it. Because the bottom line is, it’s not about you. It’s about the mission.

So for those leaders who like to move at a fast pace, who perhaps lack patience, and like to be in control . . . maybe the best way to make a lasting difference is to take a deep breath, and acquire a taste for sausage.