By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy
Here’s an idea to help you make lemonade out of the lemons in your life. Reading time: 2:31.
Laura, my then 7-year-old daughter, and I were walking to church one day after parking the car.
Laura looked up somewhat discouraged. “Dad, I really don’t want to go to church today,” Laura whined. “Can we skip today?”
I looked at her with the smile of a kid relishing the opportunity to get out of something. Laura smiled too. I said, “Sure, Laura, Let’s skip.” Laura was so excited. So thrilled. “Really,” she questioned? “Really,” I said.
And then we started skipping together. To church.
By the time we reached the church steps, Laura and I were laughing so much that she forgot all about not wanting to be in church that morning. What happened? Call it a Reality Check. That’s what all effective leaders do.
The most effective leaders I know give others a reality check of another kind. Not verifying the reality that is. Varying it. With humor. With Insight. With whatever it takes.
In fact, leaders conduct a Reality Check in much the same way a hockey player checks or blocks the progress of an opposing player. With conviction.
After all, with a well-placed check, the hockey player can turn harm into a harmony. So can a well placed leader turn agony into ecstasy.
With a Reality Check, a leader can enrich the future performance of others no matter how bankrupt their present. Consider Ezra Pound, a poet by profession and a Reality Checker by disposition and a leader by definition.
Enriching the Future No Matter How Bankrupt the Present
In 1922, before Ernest Hemingway would be come a famous author, he lost a suitcase at a railroad station. In it was his budding writing career: a partially written manuscript of a book on fishing he was working on now was obliterated.
He not only lost the manuscript; he also lost all his research. There were no copies. No carbon paper. He was devastated. Remember these were the days before computers, before electronically backing up your work.
But his friend poet Ezra Pound – a champion of Hemingway’s writing BEFORE he published his first novel– came up with a Reality Check of another kind for Hemingway. Pound said the lost manuscript and the lost research notes may be a blessing in disguise. In rewriting the material Hemingway would select only the best material and thereby enhance the manuscript. Hemingway did.
Reality Check: Reframe It
Four years later Ernest Hemingway launched his publishing career in stunning fashion. He published his first book : The Sun Also Rises to superb critical reviews. “No amount of analysis can convey the quality of The Sun Also Rises,” The New York Times gushed in its review at the time. “It is a truly gripping story, told in a lean, hard, athletic narrative prose that puts more literary English to shame.”
So the next time you can’t stand your present reality: Reframe it. Revise it. Redo it. And maybe you will have a little fun too, singing your version of Skip To My Lou and laughing all the way. And then just like my daughter you can turn from a whiner to a winner. With your Reality Check.
Reframe your Reality to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.
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