Figure It Out . . . . And Don’t Call Me
One of my favorite leaders is Bill Hybels. Bill is not a government leader or CEO of a business – he leads a church in Chicago. He is one of the most passionate guys on the planet about leadership and would be capable of heading any type of organization. Bill attributes a lot of his skill to lessons learned from his father.
One example of this training involved a ski trip to Aspen. Bill had begun skiing in his home state of Michigan. His father, however, decided that if he was going to pursue something he needed to do it with passion and needed to do it in a place that would challenge his skills. A trip to Colorado was required.
Bill showed up on the morning of the trip ready for the great adventure. What he didn’t know is that he was going on this adventure alone. His Dad had provided the train ticket and a reservation at one of the finest ski resorts in Colorado, but Dad was staying home. When Bill asked how he was supposed to get from the train terminal to the resort or when he asked how he was supposed to learn how to get from the top of the mountain to the base he received the same response. “Figure it out. . . . and don’t call me.”
The interesting part of the story is that Bill was only 10 years old at the time! In today’s world, parents would have to answer a lot of questions from authorities for this type of behavior. Bill’s Dad, however, wasn’t cruel. He was trying to teach his son an important principle – LEADERS FIGURE IT OUT!
We utilize several books at Graebel to teach principles of leadership but there aren’t enough books in the world to teach someone how to deal with every situation they are going to face. Success is usually driven by resourcefulness more than anything.
Most people can identify problems. Others can write great reports on the root cause of the issues. Difference makers figure out how to overcome.
As we look to challenge our team, partners and even our customers from time to time, I think there are some important principles to learn from a ten year old in a tough spot:
- Bill needed to already know that his Dad loved him. Challenging someone is pretty worthless if they think you are a jerk. If they know that you have their best interest they will run through fire for you. If there is no love behind, “figure it out,” it’s just noise.
- Opportunities for growth usually require uncomfortable moments.
- When you challenge someone to grow, you are committing yourself to supporting their growth. While Bill’s Dad said “don’t call me”….he knew that Bill had a mom too!
As we move into a new world at Graebel, we need humble, hungry, and smart people with the creativity and the will to Figure It Out.