As a little child, I was often called on to do things with previously no instruction or even guidance. Or maybe that is just how I recall it. Either way, I want to relate what leadership skills a person can learn from this to apply it to their own lives.
There was a particularly horrific incident that came to my mind this morning and I’d almost forgotten it but somehow the ‘memory remains’. I am thrilled because looking back on it, I’m able to see a great lesson from severe debillitating pain and the pain becomes useful.
So here I was in elementary school, no friends, glasses, the kid who got made fun of for crappy clothes, being on free lunch etc. I went home to a house where I got screamed at for everything and I was told constantly how worthless I was by my father. So thats the background going into this thing. You can imagine, I didn’t have a shred of self confidence or even a half good notion of myself at this point.
The teacher always had us watch films in class to show us a different perspective but truthfully I don’t recall any of these films. For all I know, they were propaganda for me to think Obama was going to do a good job. I digress though, the point of the story is not to tell a person how crappy Obama and Biden or even Bush W is or did in the Oval Office. They do really suck however. But the film projector with the reel to reel and the tape flapping when the film was over. The funny burnt lines, the splices, the image frames the whole nine yards. Those things were kinda cool but ultimately went the way of the dinosaur.
There was a particular time and several times that I was asked to change the tape to the next reel… Oddly enough, I was never instructed how to do so just expected to know. So you can picture me, a geeky friendless kid who couldn’t function going to solve the worlds problems without an inkling of how. The kids looked at me and laughed so maniacally, I wanted to punch every one of them in the face. Alas, kids are the cruelest things on the earth. But instead I gathered up what was left of my self esteem and threw it in the trash. I simply couldn’t figure out how to switch it over and was frustrated. Why the teacher didn’t give instruction I will never know. Partly to ridicule me perhaps? I don’t know and I no longer care. I do know however that if I am ever a teacher, I will not allow a student to be so thoroughly humiliated. Humiliation is not good. It is not leadership at its best, it is positional power and useless. I would rather know the student has the answers to succeed and not be made fun of to help them through childhoods own particular hell.
So here’s the great big lesson, give people the answers to the questions so that everyone can get an A. How can an employee know what is required of them to do if not fully disclosed and given the answers? How can a child please parents who never inform how? How can one person in a band be playing songs together except to give the answers on how or what sound is desired?
If we as people are afraid and too cowardly to inform others of the right answers, we shouldn’t complain or moan when they get it wrong. I fail at this as a parent periodically. I will tell my children or wife that I’m frustrated but not why. I will have the children in trouble for breaking my rules and sometimes forget to ensure that they know what they did wrong and what they could’ve done right. That is terrible of me to expect them to change the reel without proper instructions on how to do just that. For me, it taught me to need to be clever and quick witted to accomplish things in life. For most however it spells defeat. I don’t want that in my life. I want my children and family to succeed as much as anyones.
Here again is the answer. If you want better children, marriage, musicians, employees, managers…teach the answers to them before giving the quiz or the ultimate presentation. It really is that simple.