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Stripping Down to Toughen Up

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to help become more aware of your surroundings. Reading time: 2:35.

 

           You’re virtually naked hunting buffalo on horseback with a bow and arrow. Your loincloth (a.k.a. a breechcloth) offers you little protection or comfort. By design.

          The Sioux Indians dressed for success on the hunt. They knew their regular clothing would be detrimental to their buffalo-bagging mission.

          They knew their regular “street” clothes would get in the way when they tried to load an arrow into their bows, especially on the run.  Buffalo could outrun horses.

        The  Sioux buffalo hunters also knew they could grip the horse more securely with their bare legs and therefore shoot more accurately.

       Leaders learn quickly like the Sioux that they have to strip down to toughen up.  The most effective leaders understand the more they figuratively bare it the better they can bear it. They don’t have to  hide behind committees, reports, or a phalanx of  assistants.               They know only too well that leaders trying to protect themselves, trying to cover up, can often smother themselves and their ideas in blissful ignorance.

      As Jack Welch, then chief executive officer at General Electric, noted: “Leaders in highly layered organization are like people who wear several sweaters outside on a freezing day. They remain warm and comfortable but they are blissfully ignorant of the realities of their environment.”

Charles Lindbergh Bared Himself

Charles Lindbergh in his open (windowless) cockpit

        Charles Lindbergh bared himself to that environment 3,300 miles over the Atlantic Ocean in becoming the first to fly solo from New York to Paris in 1927.

      He eschewed putting windows in his plane’s cockpit –even though windows would make the plane more aerodynamically sound, more efficient on fuel, longer in flying range and protect his charts from literally flying away.

     But Lindbergh did not want to be insulated—and isolated– from the elements .

       “No, I will leave the windows in their rack, waste the miles of range they offer. I’ll sacrifice their efficiency to mine,” Lindbergh wrote in his biography The Spirit of St. Louis. “It makes the Spirit of St. Louis seem more a living partner in adventure than a machine of cloth and steel.”

       That’s why the most effective leaders strip down to toughen up. They seek a “living partner in adventure” not simply the technology to work more efficiently.  They are more than willing to bare it all, to strip the paint of performance down to the bare “mettle.”

 Today’s ImproveMINT

Bare all –stay vulnerable — to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.

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