Saturday, June 21, 2008

The transition from taking to giving

It's a fascinating trend for me, and one I've seen, then battled, and then seen some more.

When you enter an organization, you're fresh meat with raw, hopefully pure potential. To get to a position of influence and notoriety (and performance), the organization and the individuals in the organization must invest in you.

You take a lot, because you don't have much to give... yet. "Taking" is in your job description; "giving" isn't there just yet.

They give the time, they share "that conversation" one more god damn time, they listen to the same concerns they heard last week/semester/year from some other carbon copy hopeful.

But they do it, because you aren't "there" yet, and all that is required for you to get "there." You don't yet have the capability to venture into the wild on your own, much less lead a band out there. They need to give you that ability, and you need to take it.

But then, you "get there." (note: not everyone does)

It usually happens after your first real journey out there, your first attempt to Live the values and act out the dreams you've been chasing and probably contributing to.

So you're There. Now what?

It's a plateau of sorts, because where do you go from There? The path is considerably less defined, because so few people go beyond it. And due to that foggy, undefined future, most lay down here and fumble around.

You have a decision to make.

There's little left to take - you hold most of the weapons now, and can venture out into the wild on your own. Most do this. Some survive, a few lead others, but most just exist. You give little of what you've taken. The buck stops there.

You're a sunk cost.

What's the other option? You can't yet venture out, so what CAN you do?

You can give back. You can lead others, and get them to that plateau. You can give more than you've taken. You can lead others past the plateau, past the vague, foggy existence of neither giving nor taking.

But you already know that.

It's crystal clear, now that you're "There." It's all part of the same journey we all took. The difference is the decision we made at that plateau, as we looked to the road less traveled.

The question is not what TO do. The question is:

WILL YOU DO IT?

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4 Comments:

Blogger Craig said...

That is some serious deep shit this early in the morning. I'll add to it, as practice for another corporate day in the life of me.

I'd like to add: as you take on the role of leader, as you plunder into the deep, you won't end up staying on the plateau. You can't. Once you're there you'll climb further without realizing it. That new climb is the real adventure, the adventure of leadership. It's your turn to help the newbie, or your turn to do something remarkable.

You may also jump on a helicopter to a different mountain, and that's ok too, we can't all climb the very same mountain. But whichever mountain it is, you'll climb all over again. The simple fact is, you now know how to climb, and it's now part of your nature. Walking past the mountain seems strange, but to run up to it and climb it just because you can... and that's what the organization sought to do in the first place.

6:59 AM  
Blogger Katy said...

An interesting post.

To ignore the fact that it is vital for the organization to have members continually developing into strong leaders and giving back and mentoring younger members, would be to ignore one of the key and vital components of leadership development.

Developing strong leaders requires strong leaders.

The strong leaders that were 'invested in' by past leaders, now possess the great opportunity to mentor and develop new talent.

I think it is important to remember that strong leaders are also still developing themselves, for a leader is constantly striving to improve and conquer new mountains. And as Craig mentioned, those mountains will change. One leader's path, may not best suit the path of another; thus making it difficult to label people as 'sunk costs' in my opinion.

Giving back, while being essential to the organization, will look different for every person.

The vessel through which you give back will change throughout your life; and that's okay.

In order to remain happy and motivated, you must choose the path, the organization, or the vessel which allows for your greatest happiness, enables yourself to continue to learn and develop, maximizes the impact you can have on others by mentoring and challenging those around you, and provides you with the venue to make change you want to see in the world.

The component of developing leaders never stops.

9:05 PM  
Blogger Alex Kumin said...

I always find my thoughts provoked after reading your blog. nice work.

ps, I continue to meet people here who know you, or have heard of you. nice work on that, too.

10:11 AM  
Blogger snirapnotreknipnnyldrahcir said...

You have eerily described my current condition. I find myself facing a new choice that will determine my immediate direction, and potentially long-term future. The choice lies in the question of once you have reached that point of leadership and development, who do you choose to lead?

2:07 AM  

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