Category Archives: Leadership

“Stay thirsty my friends…”

staythirsty

No I’m not suggesting you start drinking a certain Mexican beer nor am I planning to opine on how you too can become the most interesting person in the world. I do, however, want to draw one point from this long-standing and apparently quite successful marketing effort.

So what does it mean this…”stay thirsty”?

For some reason it took me about 500 views of this commercial before I asked myself that question during a recent football-watching marathon. (I guess I must be in their target audience). I don’t know about you but I generally don’t have to try very hard to get thirsty. It just happens. When it does I go get a drink of something cool and refreshing and just like that, problem solved…no more thirsty.

So I hypothesized that this really isn’t about the kind of thirsty that is easily resolved with a cold beverage.

Brilliant, yes?

With that piece of intellectual prowess behind me I started digging further and asked, “stay thirsty for what?”. I mean you can thirst for a lot of things but not all of them will be helpful or satisfying. So I made a list of ways I’d like to stay thirsty in my life and as a leader.

  • I want to stay thirsty for understanding. For me this means approaching my experiences with a bias towards awareness and curiosity versus judgement and expectation. Always open to what might be revealed if I keep seeking. I think of this sometimes as an almost playful attitude towards the problems or challenges that come along. I also want to be willing to change my views and examine by beliefs through honest inquiry.
  • I want to stay thirsty for connection. For me this means building bridges to other people, even those with whom I differ or have a conflicting point of view. I want to learn with people from different cultures and those with dissimilar backgrounds or experiences to my own. I want to relate to people on a personal as well as professional level and bring empathy, authenticity and encouragement to our experience together. I want to be a part of a great story that we share and add to our collective memory.
  • I want to stay thirsty for knowledge. For me this means actively seeking new ideas, learning from the experiences of others, experimenting with new approaches and investing in my skills so that I grow my capacity to lead and make a positive impact on the lives of others. It means working hard to master my craft while also challenging my paradigms with forays into art, literature, philosophy and other disciplines not directly related to what I do for a living.
  • I want to stay thirsty for challenge. For me this means stretching beyond my self-imposed limitations or the artificial limitations placed on me by others. I may do this in small steps or giant leaps but every time I push myself through something difficult I know it makes me stronger and more confident in my abilities. This stretching works best when I seek it on my own though I also benefit from striving to meet the challenges others place in my path.

I’m still working on my “thirsty list” but I think this is a pretty good start.

What would you put on your list?

I’m also thinking this could be a pretty good mantra to put on my wall or screen saver or somewhere to remind me that I need to stay thirsty.

Maybe with a picture of the “most interesting man in the world”?

Nah.

Well that does if for this post. I think I might need a beer.

 

 

 

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A Leader’s Emotional Footprint

footprints-in-sand

There is something profound about how we humans respond to a leader who is calm in the midst of a crisis.

We feed off of their energy. Even when the situation calls for panic, or fills us with uncertainty, the presence of a calm, strong and honest voice can bring us back into focus. To a place where hope gains a foothold. There is the possibility of a solution or at least a course of action. When the crisis is over these emotional footprints remain. We learn something important about ourselves through our contact with this experience and we are better prepared to face the next challenge.

On the other hand there are the emotional footprints left behind by the judgmental, critical and reactive leader. Under the pretense of necessity they trample the confidence of the group and assert their right to “take charge”. Blame is assigned, demands are made, orders are given and guilt is applied. They leave us less confident, more dependent and worried about “next time”.

Every interaction with a leader leaves an emotional footprint. This isn’t a new concept of course but perhaps this imagery provides a different perspective from which to examine our actions. If we were to go back and trace our emotional footprints over the last day, week, month or year, what might we learn?

What footprints are you leaving?

  •  Are you leaving footprints of calm or anxiety?
  • Are you leaving footprints of trust of fear?
  • Are you leaving footprints of self-confidence or dependency?
  • Are you leaving footprints of curiosity or compliance?
  • Are you leaving footprints of empathy or judgement?
  • Are you leaving footprints of encouragement or frustration?
  • Are you leaving footprints of community or competition?
  • Are you leaving footprints of understanding or blame?

Maybe it would be good to pause here and reflect on the footprints you might have left behind with your coworkers, family or friends in the past 24 hours.

How do you think you would have felt if you were in their shoes?

How would you respond?

You can set your intention to leave a positive emotional impact on the people you serve. As you approach each opportunity be mindful of the emotions you want to create and the way you want the experience to be remembered. Then no matter what happens during the process keep coming back to that goal and recalibrating so that, as much as possible, you create the impression you were seeking even if the underlying issue is not resolved.

Not all of this is in your control and not every experience will come out as you intended, but over time you will find that you are making a difference and leaving footprints that others will appreciate and want to follow.

Just as we cannot walk on the beach without leaving an impression in the sand; leaders must be aware that in every interaction, reaction, decision and communication we leave something behind in the person or persons with whom we come in contact.

 

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