Last night I made a classic leadership error. Our son, Taylor, is heading to Denver for a summer internship. As we sat down to enjoy a wonderful meal prepared by Miss, I asked him how it was going in his search for housing. He responded matter of factly that he still had nothing and was struggling with air bnb knowing which were real and which were bots. Yes, this is the freedom and tyranny that comes with technology. Moving along.
Tay leaves in a couple weeks and Miss and I are growing anxious that he’s gonna be left out in the Colorado cold. I asked another question, “Have you talked to your employer and asked for help?” Of course he hadn’t “talked” to them (who talks anymore), but he had exchanged emails and they had recently sent him a link to some additional housing leads (this is the trigger moment I missed). My mind began to race forward. I made a poor attempt to slow it down with a question but, we all know, it wasn’t really much of a question.
“When did they send you the link,” I asked. When he said “it was a couple days ago,” my sympathetic nervous system took flight, actually it took fight. I began a tirade of why this was a mistake and what was he thinking waiting around until tomorrow to get on it. My tone was not encouraging, nor were my words. I was angry and knew it. Not good. You see, this problem is not mine. This stressor, like so many you face, is a relational problem where you and I tend to over operate in anothers space – nothing stresses your system more, btw, than working on stuff outside your control. Let that sink in awhile, leader, parent, or teammate.
So, last night, I ruined a perfectly good opportunity to share a meal with Miss and Tay. Instead of responding to Tay’s casual approach to his housing problem with, “Well, I’m sure you’ll figure it out,”or some other neutral, curious question, I made the mistake of asking leading questions and over operating in his space. The funny part about this whole, relational mess, is that my motive was good. I wanted to help him. I was trying to take some of his tension and make it go away, maybe even make it mine. Never works and I know it. Still, I did it. Yes, I too am a work in process. Remember, leader, your job is not to take tension away from your team. Leaders pass the tension to it’s rightful owner. Big diff.
Last night I made a classic leadership error. I over operated in anothers space. I got stressed out as a result. Turns out that most of our hyper stress, leader, isn’t the result of being over worked. Nope, it’s not. It’s almost always possible to handle more stress when we are doing it for ourselves than when we have taken it on for a relationship – even when that relationship is for one we love. Stop over operating, friend. Your team won’t get better when you over operate in their space. Fact.
Tay’s heading to Denver. He’s gonna have to figure it out. Good…