We had parent teacher interviews this evening. I love the chance to connect with the girls’ teachers and talk about how the kids have been going at school. Both girls are thriving and have wonderful teachers, which makes these interviews particularly sweet.
But tonight was no ordinary interview. Something completely unexpected happened that I never could have predicted.
My wife and I walked into the room to meet with our youngest daughter’s teacher. After greeting each other the teacher started to talk about her husband’s work and the challenging leadership role he has. She then said that both her and her husband have been reading a blog that has been really making a difference for them.
Just when I was wondering where this conversation was going she turned to me and said the last thing in the world I was expecting:
“It’s your blog.”
Hearing that feedback was humbling. I would never have guessed that my writing would have made its way into the hands of my daughter’s teacher and that it would have had the kind of effect she described.
The timing was also remarkable.
Over the last couple of months I’ve really struggled to find motivation and traction with my writing. With many challenging goals at work and a full life with the family, it’s been hard to fit in consistent writing time. But if I’m honest with myself the biggest obstacle has been my motivation. Something has been pulling me away from finding the time to write that I know is there if I really want it. Maybe some fear. Maybe some doubt. In any case straying too far from that glorious thing called habit, which is there to serve us if we will let it.
But in the last three days I’ve had three separate encouragements. Someone reached out to tell me that a conversation and some feedback I gave them years ago really helped them turn a corner in working with other people. Another person told me that my Love Your Team initiative helped them make a significant career decision. And then there was the feedback tonight from my daughter’s teacher.
On an evening when I had not planned to carve out any time to write, I find myself writing with joy and purpose. Tonight I was given the exact thing I needed at the time I really needed it, and I am very grateful.
Loving leadership follows the same pattern
A truth that I’ve seen play out countless times over the years is that the moments we make a difference in someone else’s life are often unknown to us at the time. We have our plans and go about our business, trying our best to achieve the goals that are in front of us. But it is a side-conversation, a moment talking to someone in the kitchen, a small piece of encouragement, that ends up touching someone, inspiring them, unlocking ideas and potential that were always there but just needed something to draw them out.
It is the moments that are grounded in love that have the highest chance of having this uplifting and transformational effect. The moments when we truly see other people as they are – people of infinite worth and potential, despite the flaws and blemishes we all have that can so easily get in the way of truly valuing someone.
As leaders, whether in business, or politics, whether at a school, or in a family, the most important and foundational thing for us to do is to truly hold the worth of all of those around us to a super high level. And then to let that recognition flow into our decisions, words, and actions. When we do this, there are all sorts of ripples that spread, most of which we never find out about. But it is these ripples that inspire people, bring teams together, and end up delivering awesome sustained results.
There is no formula for this. No management structure that can enforce it. No process that can guarantee it. These is something magical and special about us human beings, and when we engage with each other in genuine unconditional love it unlocks powerful things that can’t be unlocked in any other way.
Be a loving leader today
Every single one of us, whether formally in a leadership position or not, can be a leader in love. If we choose to unconditionally value every person we encounter in our day, and have the courage to express and act on that, then we will be a beacon that radiates ripples that touch people’s lives. We will foster an atmosphere around us where people feel safe, feel valued, and get encouraged and inspired.
In the next meeting or interaction that you have with others, remember that the way you are in that meeting is more crucial than the specifics of the content you are discussing. The content is still important, but it is your being that has the potential to cause the ripples that inspire and touch lives.
Tonight I was on the receiving end of that. The genuine encouragement from my daughter’s teacher gave me the inspiration I needed to start writing again after a period of drought. I could perceive the value she held for me. I could see it in her eyes. I could experience it in her body language. I knew it was genuine. And this made her encouraging words deeply impactful to me.
What kind of effect could your loving heart, thoughts, words, and actions have today?