We’ve all been offended, haven’t we, by well meaning coaches, leaders, and builders. I recall a few years back when Taylor, our youngest son, told me how offended he was when his longtime soccer coach called him out for not bringing the ball down to his foot and playing it to a teammate before it touched the ground. “Dad, I thought he was calling me out for something in front of my team. I thought I had made a good play and he stopped practice to tell me I could have done it in one step instead of two. I thought he was being ridic.” As Taylor reflected on his learning from his teaching moment, he told me that Coach was right. “I could do it better and once I tried it on my own, I did.”
Tay, like all of us, has a hard time hearing hard truth. All humans must build capacity to hear hard truth if they hope to build capacity for better work. Fact. Hearing doesn’t mean responding. Hearing simply means letting it in. The strong hear lots of noise and are very selective with what they let stick. All of us, however, gotta get better at hearing and letting in what is offensive to our ears and I’m not talking about foul language. The elite hear more than most because they seek it out. When was the last time, friend, you made someone hit you? When was the last time you spoke hard truth to make another do what they can? Leaders, do not shy away from delivering messages the masses don’t want to hear. The BTL leader models the way by connecting before correcting. The BTL leader connects before she corrects.
Connect before correct.
And, embrace the pain and suffering of seeking hard feedback. Welcome hard words your way without going triple d (defend, deny, destroy). Thank those willing to make you better. This is especially important for you, leader. For the few reading this rant with the aim of mastering your craft, develop the discipline of hearing hard truths regarding your performance. Develop an appetite for getting better so the hard facts don’t make you bitter. Tay took it. His touch went from two to one. What, friend, are you doing with hard truth as it hits you? What are you doing to hear offensive words without shutting down? Are you too easily offended? Are you too offensive?
We all gotta lean against our tendency, don’t we? My biggest gains have come from some of my biggest pains – my truth tellers. God, bless them even though in many a moment my tendency is to curse them. My bride continues to be my best friend. She connects before she corrects. She loves me like I’m the love of her life and lets me know hard truth without fear of respite. I may not enjoy her words in the moment, but her track record and her deep caring have overcome my insecurities and anxieties. I have come to welcome her hard truth. Miss makes me do what I can. What a gift. Who cares enough to correct you, leader? How well are you, leader, connecting before you go around correcting? Get your ratios right, remember?
Live hard. Love harder (Thanks, Teeks). Love you, my Miss…