A few weeks ago I read one of my friend and colleague’s Twitter posts. She had described their leadership retreat and referenced the book “This is Day One: A Practical Guide to Leadership that Matters” by Drew Dudley. I thought well if Sue Bruyns is reading it then it must be great because she is one of the most brilliant and well respected leaders I know! So, I decided to download it onto my Kindle.
This is one of those books that I REALLY wish I had a hard copy of to mark up and highlight. There are so many questions Drew Dudley asks in this book that really make you stop and think as a leader. He is EXTREMELY reflective and asks the questions that are important for leaders to answer daily.
This week I found myself at the TCM doctor, reading the chapters on Growth and Self-Respect. There were some things from these chapters that really resonated with me and rolled around in my head during my treatment.
In the chapter on Growth Drew talks about the “Edge of the Bed Question”. Drew defines this as a time in your life in which your son or daughter calls you into their room, asks you to sit on the edge of the bed and then asks “Mom/Dad, what’s your best life advice? What single insight has most contributed to your happiness?”
WOW! this really took me aback. What would I tell Harrison on Griffin if they asked me that question at a pivotal point in their lives? Have I given a thoughtful response when they have asked similar questions? Did it sound like BS or was it perceived as sound advice?
What I did discover is that I need to spend some more time mulling around this question in my own mind. So many things flashed into my mind….don’t ever let a moment pass you by, take the opportunities that are presented to you, don’t be afraid to take risks, love with all your heart, leave the world a better place, do what makes you happy, be kind, be honest, be genuine…..ahhhh I do not know! None of these sound very profound! What is my best life advice? That requires more reflection for sure.
In the Chapter on Self-Respect Drew shares that he sets reminders on his phone to stop and ask himself the following questions several times a day:
Impact: What have I done today to recognize someone else’s leadership?
Courage: What did I try today that might not work, but I tried it anyway?
Empowerment: What did I do today to move someone else closer to a goal?
Growth: What did I do today to make it more likely someone will learn something?
Class: What did I “elevate instead of escalate” today?
Self-Respect: What did I do today to be good to myself?
If we truly want to practice servant leadership and recognize the leaders around us then we need to be cognizant of these questions throughout our day and in the interactions with our staff. I intend like Drew to put a daily reminder on my phone to set and intention at the beginning of the day as well as a time at the end of the day to reflect on these questions.
Drew also shared the importance of a leaders ability to heal. He talks about the most extraordinary leaders having the ability to heal and to recognize healing as a skill that most be practiced daily. Leadership is vulnerable and as leaders we get hurt both intentionally and inevitably therefore leaders must be resilient and have the power to heal themselves.
This made me think about the challenges of leadership and about all of the difficult experiences, interactions, mistakes and self-doubt leaders face. As a new leader you are devastated by each hurtful or difficult experience and question your abilities as a leader. As you gain knowledge and experience leaders have the ability to let things go and to take them less personally.
Is healing then the same as getting a thicker skin or not taking things personally?
Is it about recognizing that it is about the position and not the person?
Is healing the same as resilience?
The final thing from my reading today that stuck with me was the concept of “Greatest being the enemy of Great.” Drew shares a conversation with two men he meets on the train who met as teens on Juno Beach. In this conversation Earl one of the men says people should draw a line in their mind that represents great and that for every experience in their lives their only question should be ” Did that experience fall above the great line?” He goes on to say that the goal in life should be to have as many experiences above the great line as possible.
For me this seemed in line with the concept of giving gratitude. If we put our experiences above the great line then we are tuning into them and giving gratitude for having had the opportunity. Living life looking for the greatest experiences seems like an impossible quest when we all have many things in our daily lives we can put about the line if we just stop to notice them.
This book has a very human way of viewing leadership. It does not see leadership as a position but more of a privilege and by that I mean an opportunity to stop and to celebrate the leadership we see in others every day. As individuals in leadership positions we can ALWAYS do better and be better! We need to stop and reflect on our leadership to insure that we are on the right path. This book provides a great opportunity to use deep and meaningful questions to reflect on your leadership.
For more information about This is Day One Leadership. Check out Drew Dudley’s book “This is Day One: A Practical Guide to Leadership that Matters” or the article in Forbes Magazine “For best results live your life one day at a time.” . or Drew’s Ted Talk “What if Every Day Was Your First Day at Work?