Way back in 1984, CompuServe promoted me into management. I was 25 years old and one of the youngest managers in the company. Later that same year, Miss and I would welcome our first son, Jordan, into the world. I’ve been a leader ever since. CompuServe HR offered me some training (I mostly blew it off – it was HR, what could they know). My manager told me to make my numbers and don’t be afraid to manage those older than me. Good advice – everybody in the office was older than me! That’s really all I remember from him too.
My Mom gave me the best leadership advice about raising Jordan. She told me when he’s little it’s really simple – Teach, teach, teach. You’ve got to teach them the right way, teach them manners, how to get along, and how to figure things out. As they grow, she told me, you migrate a bit in your approach – Teach, teach, listen. Once they start to speak, you better listen up, Mom cajoled emphatically. You still teach more than you listen, but you tune in and make sure they know it. And, when they get into double digits you better be ready. The recipe is flipped on it’s ear, she said. Now it’s “Listen, Listen, Listen,” you only teach by sneaking it in and making them think it’s their idea. She called this strategy – A little bit here and a little bit there. I remember this stuff she said back in 1984. I don’t remember anything from CompuServe’s Introduction to Management Training course. I was not a good student.
Most of my learning as a leader came from my fails, and I had plenty. As a husband, father, and CompuServe manager, I seemed to go from one mistake to another. I didn’t have a roadmap for any of them, but I had plenty of confidence, conviction, and a desire to become more competent. You see, my parents had prepared me for the road, not the other way around. My mom, I recall, when I was leaving for college told me to enjoy myself, get a good education, and be ready to support myself when it was over. She looked me in the eye and told me I wasn’t coming back home. Oh, she wanted me to come home (I rarely did), but she wanted me to stand on my own. She prepared me for the road. There you have it, friend. Whether you’re leading family, friends, or teammates, your job is to prepare them for the road not prepare the road for them. Big diff.
Prepare them for the road.
Thanks, Mom, Dad, Coach Crank, Coach Odle, Greg Tillar, Miss, and many, many more, for preparing me for the road. Thank you for preparing me for the road. Lord knows, I was not an easy one for any of you. I’m doing my best to pass it along and still learning mostly from my mistakes. Leader, are you preparing your team for the road or paving the road for them? Are you being wise on removing the right obstacles while still making them do what they can? Prepare them for the road, please. Prepare them. Good.
Live hard. Love harder (Thanks, Teeks)…