May 7, 2009 Chris Fuller

Discovery and leveraging the lessons.

For the next few days, my trail has led to San Diego – so as I write this – I’m overlooking a beautiful marina! Where has your trail led you this week?

Yesterday I asked a question about a Husky looking like a Chihuahua, which leads to talking again about decisions and discovery. As you develop and refine who you will be as a person and a leadership, learn from others and learn as much about you as possible.

When learning from others you are going to have 2 lists – what to do and what NOT to do. As I said before, I’ve had great AND tragic examples of leadership played out in front of me. Every example can teach me something – even if it’s what not to do. Leaders come in all shapes and sizes – all temperaments and all skill sets. Even if that leader is not similar to you in temperament or skill set – learn what you can.

Years ago, I heard about a mid level leader that kept a running log of what not to do to his people when he was finally in control of his own “sled”. Initially, it may have started out as a coping mechanism, but what it turned into was a great mirror that he pulled out at various “checkpoints”. He would look at the list and compare his leadership to that list. If his “Husky” was looking more like the list, he could make adjustments to his behaviors to keep him on the right trail. Again, just because you think it’s a bad example – don’t lose the lesson – capture on the list of “what not to do”

At the same time, you could look at a leader and admire aspects about their leadership. Things like: How they are with their team, what they do to encourage their people, how strategic they are and how they seem to be constantly thinking about the trail both here and a mile up the road, How they seem to just draw people to themselves. Even if you are discouraged by the good things that they do – don’t allow yourself to stay there long. They have been on the trail longer than you, made more mistakes than you, and can serve as that guide of what you can become. Break this list of Great Musher behaviors into areas that you believe might be temperament related and which are disciplines. Someone who is great at encouraging others may have come by that naturally. It may be a part of their temperament OR it may be a skill or discipline that they have learned to do over the years.

If it doesn’t come natural to you – it may not be in your “natural” temperament. I know my personality is to be passionate. At times, I have been discouraged when I have seen other leaders continually show such calm demeanor. I’ve learned to embrace the passionate side of me – AND to learn some of their behaviors. I do this so I can bring them into my “adaptive” temperament skill set or “disciplines”.

So, theme for the day: learn from the trail, learn from other mushers around you and spend a little time thinking about your own temperament. Consider starting a list of what to do, what not to do and behaviors in others that you may want to consider adopting for your own “Iditarod Leadership”.

Have a great day.

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