If you happen to have XM Radio and listen to Prime Country, then you will have heard the Patty Loveless song "Hurt Me Bad (in a Real Good Way)." She has an amazing voice that pierces the heart in so many of her songs. If you have never heard it, well, just click on the song title above.
What does this have to do with leadership? Everything! The song speaks to perspective about "good" and "bad" events that happen. I'm going to share a real world example for you to help you understand the role of leadership in balancing progress and perspective.
Take a look at the photo above showcasing just one, typical spot in my yard. Grab a note pad and write down everything that you see. Truly take the time to describe the picture. Here are a few things I see:
This is just a quick snip of my front yard. There are spots like this EVERYWHERE and it looks awful. My neighbors have a pristine yard and then there's this mess. How'd we get here? Simple! We've lived in this house and this neighborhood for only a year. When I was putting out some weed 'n feed last summer, I was told that no such care was exerted on the yard in the past. In other words, I am battling more than a decade of neglect and will not be able to turn it around in a single season or year. Embracing that the current situation demands improvement and acknowledging the long-process required to turn it around is the only way I am able to keep my sanity. Let me explain a bit further.
Instead of the broadcast approach, I am forced to target weeds for destruction. The lawn surgery takes more time and effort but is necessary to protect the good grass that is rooted and growing well. I am having to change the environment while causing the least damage to the good parts of the lawn, and a "scorched earth policy" is not the right approach. To be completely honest, the yard looks awful and, if you doubt that fact, look to the left! Unfortunately, it has to look that way in the short-term for long-term improvement to be made. Weed eradication then shifts into lawn regeneration. If the ugly work is not performed, then the aeration, plugging, over-seeding, and fertilization will be limited in results. In short, the yard has to be bad BUT in a good way!
Sometimes, small setbacks are necessary for progress to occur. That statement, and the belief underscoring it, serves as the foundation for this one - progress is powered by perspective. If you lack an improvement mindset and the willingness to work, then you will never move forward. The right perspective recognizes that change is needed, takes action to bring that change, and deals with the temporary ugliness while envisioning the end result. The wrong perspective chooses to overlook the impetus for change, refuses to take any action, and complains about the end results.
Never forget that the quality of your perspective forges the quality of your progress! That quality perspective includes admitting when you need help in making progress. Your perspective and progress are balanced by the middle fulcrum known as a plan. Even the best laid plans must be adjusted when implemented. Think of baseball teams as managers select the starter and send them to the mound; however, most starting pitchers leave the game for the bullpen to finish it out. Why? Because the team leader balanced his perspective with the need for progress. In my own yard saga, I have reached out to a lawn care service to get some advice, plan the strategy, and then jointly implement the solution.
One year from now, I envision writing another article and referencing this one BUT with pictures of a vibrantly green yard that has completed its transformation for the better. And, therein, lies one more lesson about perspective and progress. Once you start seeing positive results, you cannot stop doing what you are doing; and, sometimes, you have to even change what you are doing. A beautiful lawn - just like success - does not maintain itself. Principled effort maintains progress and both of those require the right perspective.
As I close, consider this from a leadership perspective. Great leaders look at the need, listen to others, learn during the situation, long for change, leverage support by others, lean into the plan, and leap over unanticipated obstacles. Where are you in this change process? I hope you are farther along than I am in my yard!