Leadership, Recognition, Chaos & Love

suit and tie

When I stepped up to the microphone at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, I felt something new.

People recognized me as a leader.

The journey to that feeling had been a road trip filled with my own demons, others’ misconceptions (somewhat justifiable, admittedly), and unhealthy doses of fear and loathing.

Maybe these are things we all face as we navigate our workplaces and personal lives, and maybe they aren’t. Maybe we’re all predisposed to becoming who we are. Maybe we can be shaped by the right person in the right place at the right time. Maybe it’s all in the stars and a broken fortune cookie.

That’s a debate for another time.

What I can tell you is this: Being recognized as a leader feels really fucking good. It’s like waking up to discover your crush finally sees you the way you see them. And the best part? It keeps happening.

I don’t have any secrets that will have you recognized as a leader overnight, and I don’t believe I now possess some untouchable status. I’m simply thankful for the opportunities I’ve been given, and I’m going to share what I’ve learned because you might identify. If you’re working beyond the next paycheck, with your eyes on the horizon and a foot on the gas, this is for you.

Raise Your Hand

It’s simple and it’s nothing new. Until you use your words and take the initiative—no matter how big or small the project might be—your shoulder isn’t going to be tapped for anything other than bullshit nobody else wants to do.

You must be willing to do the work, of course. But until you raise your hand and prove it belongs in the air, you might as well put a framed selfie in your cubicle. You’re going to be there awhile.

When Chaos Rages, Love Your Team

You should love your team at all times. But when chaos rules the moment and resentment toward your clients or customers becomes the slippery, tantalizing slope it is, you need to shift your perspective and work for your team instead.

They’re affected by stress, just like you. They’re trying to meet deadlines now and friends later, just like you. They’re saving money for their next vacation, just like you.

During any challenge, the potential exists for the personal lives of your team members to be negatively affected. That sounds like a lot of pressure because it is. But when you approach chaos with that mindset, when you love your team and work for them, there’s no need for glasses. Your focus on what needs to be done and how to do it becomes 20/20.

Some refer to it as “Servant Leadership.” That’s cool. But, people write songs about love.

Spend Energy on Things that Matter, Screw the Rest

We are surrounded by manufactured drama, contrived out of thin air by people who don’t know as much as they think they do or seemingly aren’t happy under happy circumstances.

I’m not saying details don’t matter, because they absolutely do. It’s when more is made of details unworthy of such attention that you’ll find yourself uttering comebacks in the shower because of an email thread from yesterday.

Don’t shower angry, my friend.

I know this a tough one. We all react to things differently, and some of us have a preternatural calm that others don’t. Just take a moment to breathe, to climb a few flights of stairs, to listen to your favorite song. Take whatever that moment is for you, because most of the rest of the world doesn’t. Most of the rest of world would drop dead if they ever realized the things they think matter, don’t.

As for you, you’ll stop wasting seconds on the things that don’t matter so you can kick ass on the things that do.

It’s your turn to step up to the mic. I’ll be waiting with applause and a hug.

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