Proactive Leaders are not Couch Potatoes!
Having launched According to Vi on June 11th, the ‘mood music’ was ‘Why on earth do you want to blog, with all you have going on?’ One person dared to ask whether I couldn’t just ‘settle with what I’m doing’ and in essence keep my good self quiet… As if I would!
I love pushing the boundaries and trying new things. Proactive leaders have the world as their oyster if they are willing to take risks. There are some people who just don’t want to take risks, and are happy with an easier life. Live and let live, I say!
Steps to Excelling
One of the reasons why some people who want to excel never reach their full potential in life is because they never step out and try anything new or daring! There’s no pushing the boundaries of life to see what
exciting stuff it might throw back at you. Like couch potatoes, some are quite content to sit around on their comfortable sofas and armchairs, watching the world go by, or spectating the football, cricket,
rugby or tennis. They complain how rubbish a player is for missing the shot or goal, yet, they themselves haven’t climbed a flight of stairs in decades! Bless ’em!
Well, According to Vi is my attempt of climbing my flight of stairs! One step at a time. And, having pondered this for years, here I am. You’ve all got my dear friend, Bertie, to thank for this, as she was instrumental in prodding me off my sofa and into action! (You’ll hear from her one day as a guest blogger!)
One step to excelling actually involves ASKING… and that ancient art of negotiation.
Hidden Benefits of Simply Asking
The other day at work, we had to present some of the benefits of being employed by our current employer. A colleague began to list out all the benefits she had received:
- flexible working, which meant she near enough works part-time
- interest-free Travelcard loans
- amazing courses, to develop her in her career
- secondments into amazing roles, and
- a career break, returning to her own job some five months later!
I couldn’t believe it! I had to check that we were working for the same employer!
And we are!
I asked her how on earth had she managed to receive all those benefits, and she replied, “I just asked!” She had got off the sofa and had started climbing the stairs. It would’ve been so easy for me to pout, grumble and scream “It’s not fair! What about me?!”, but the truth is…I actually hadn’t thought of asking; I couldn’t at that time be bothered with the paperwork required to apply for all these benefits, and thirdly, I’d assumed for some reason that I’d hear the words “No, because…”. And now, there I was, struggling with burnout, whilst she was looking refreshed and tanned from her latest work-related benefit! Goodness me!
Therein lies the reason why some of us are not excelling: we don’t ask, we don’t climb, and we’re simply not ‘in it to win it’. So I’ve decided to do some asking myself. My dear colleague had inspired me into action. Thank God for her!
The Elder Son Syndrome
Remember that well-known parable about the Prodigal Son? Well, everyone focuses on him and his return to sanity and to father, but I often ponder on the grouchy elder brother, who begrudged the merriment and celebration that Little Brother was home. When challenged about his attitude by his father, he admitted that in his eyes it wasn’t fair that his brother had really messed up, yet had returned home to a fanfare! Elder Brother goes on to say: “I’ve been working hard for you for years, and you’ve never put on a party for me!” What did his father say? Well, in essence his response was, “You didn’t ask.”
Proactive leaders don’t wait passively for an opportunity to appear. As the Good Book says, ‘You don’t have, because you don’t ask!’ Now I know there is more to this, such as having the right motive and the right timing, but the key challenge is not being afraid to ask. Not being afraid of looking a fool if the answer is No! Quite often, it is a resounding Yes.
Overcoming the No’s
Proactive leaders are the ones who take that step to ask and act. Starting by simply negotiating my ’employment benefits’ was a step. Something might be your ‘right’, but it’s of no use if you don’t access it. So, the other day I asked my then boss for a change in my working pattern, and he said No! I thought, ‘Flaming heck!’ But, a while later, I approached the same issue, and he agreed to ‘consider it’. At the time of writing, the change to my work pattern has been agreed. I had learnt the importance of timing, and just not giving up but of choosing the moment wisely. Proactive leaders mustn’t shy away because of the word No, but simply step back and restrategise.
With that in mind, then, whatever you know YOU need to do, get off your … sofa (!), and begin to climb those stairs, will you?!
Let me know what actions you’ve taken towards your dream, destiny, project or goal. Whatever it is, I’d love to hear it!
Until next week.