When I was growing up I was taught that in order to become a successful leader, I had to work hard, which often entailed sacrificing important life qualities such as free time, work-life balance, and enjoying my hobbies. As a result, I would go far beyond being focus-driven and sacrifice anything that got in the way of achieving my vision.
Quite frankly, I just didn’t realize I had a problem. Working hard just feels good to me. I’m energized with the feeling of importance that I’m making the world a better place. In fact, it makes me feel so good that it becomes addicting without realizing it.
When I was a USA cyclist I focused on training and competing in racing events. Back then I would do everything it took in order to participate in twelve to thirteen events a year, sacrificing tons of life’s pleasures along the way. The extreme training and racing took their toll on my health and my career.
As a leader, I was very difficult to be around as a result of my impossibly high standards. I seemed to be very good at finding people that were better than me in certain areas. After hiring them, however, these prodigies would turn into incompetent idiots, as I so perceived. I would often ask myself, “why won’t these people sacrifice as I do?”
One day on a bike ride I asked myself, how could such talented people that excelled in their job performance before and after working for me, turn out to be such “bad” hires? It became clear to me that it couldn’t possibly always be someone else. The common denominator in having underperforming teams was me.
I was one of those tyrants that you see in the movies. My perfectionism also carried over into my personal life. My whole life was starting to crumble. That’s when I realized something had to change. If I didn’t, I would’ve ended up losing all the things that truly mattered to me.
Here’s what I did to stop sacrificing and reimagine my perceptions on success…
Hit the Reset Button
Just because we’ve always done something a certain way, doesn’t mean that we have to continue doing it, if it gets us nowhere. From time to time we have to recalibrate the points of our compass to get us to where we really want to go.
“If something is no longer working, stop and hit the reset button and restart.”
Two key questions to ask that will reveal what to do next are:
A. What do you want? … What is most important to you?
B. Why do you want it? … Why is it important to you?
Reimagine Leadership Success
After defining what was really important to me, I started observing what was I sacrificing in the process of becoming who I wanted to be. I saw patterns of resentments emerge as a result of sacrifices that I demanded of myself and all those around me. I also noticed that as my demands for perfection from others lessoned, their resentments towards me diminished.
“Reimagine leadership success and stop sacrificing what’s most important.”
My perceptions of being “perfect” at everything, shifted. I released the notion that everything had to be done my way. When I delegated a task, I released the control of how the mission would be carried out. This allowed others to tap into their talents and become entrepreneurs in problem-solving and the creation of magical team performance.
After reimagining what leadership success was to me, I was transformed in the way I led. I became more empathetic with those that I led and got way more things done with other people doing them.
Do any of these points resonate with you? If they do, don’t worry, you can create a rich and meaningful life without sacrificing the people and things that you love along the journey.
This article has been reprinted with permission from Eric Miller’s LinkedIn article.
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