Being a trailblazer, (an Entrepreneur), blazing a new path that others will follow is hard! It’s hard for the one doing the blazing and hard for the one following that leader.
Over the years I have blazed a few paths of my own. Some with tremendous success. I have a wonderfully successful son… which says I must have done something right as his mom. I have a great marriage. I’ve been successful in multiple different leadership positions where I’ve set new strategies, and put new ways of doing things in place that have brought about huge results. In some of those, the fire still burns brightly because of the legacy I left behind. I believe I’ve broken some good ground that has produced a harvest that is still growing.
However, in some of those “blazed paths,” the fire burned out… shortly after I started it. It never really became a blaze beyond my own mind. Is it failure? It could be if I call it that. But I choose to say it is one of many things I’ve learned that is the wrong way of doing something. An opportunity for growth! Because of that I can now focus on finding the right way. It’s all about how you look at it.
The problem with being a trailblazer is sometimes we get caught up in the joy of the challenge… the joy of the hunt… the excitement of accomplishing something big. We tend to forget that there are things we need to look out for, processes we need to put in place, people we need to help along the way, and situations that may need our attention. We get so focused on the goal that we leave people far behind. They are back there seeing us blaze ahead, yelling, “Hey what about me? Can you slow down so I can catch up?” Or “I’m lost. I don’t understand where we are going! HELP!”
I’ve been guilty of all of that a time or two. (Or 3, or 4, or 5…) I’ve learned some powerful truths over the years that have helped me to grow as a leader and I believe will help you as well!
- All really good Leaders have a Coach or a Mentor! When I look back to my successes and my failures, “my opportunities for growth” moments, it is clear to me that I found more success during the seasons of my life that I had a Mentor or a Coach than in the seasons where I was doing it on my own. My mentor/coach many times was the one to help me see the big picture… they were the ones to help me see who I might be leaving behind, or what I might be missing as I blazed ahead. They brought perspective and that voice of reason that everyone that was following me was very thankful I had!
- Leaders look out for their Team! We can get so focused on the goal or the vision we have, that we leave behind the very people we need to take with us so we can succeed! If you look back in history, all the “greats” had help. No one accomplished a huge vision without people to help them along the way. Our goal as a leader is to not only be great communicators, but also to genuinely care for those we are leading. What’s going on in their life? Are they struggling personally? Are they struggling in their job? Do they know where you are going as their leader and fully understand how they can help you get there? Are they following you because they have to or because they genuinely believe in where you are going? All of these things can be deterrents to moving forward. What’s the old adage? “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” If you want a team of people surrounding you that is loyal, strong and focused, take them with you in the journey. Care for them. Help them. Instead of an employee, you may just find a real life-long friend!
- Leaders are willing to change! You may have a goal in mind that is so clear and focused that NOTHING can sway you from it. While there is strength in that, there is also wisdom in being fluid enough that you’re willing for the end result to look a little different from what you always imagined. You are willing to adapt and change based on each new step you take. It isn’t that your goal was not the right goal from the beginning; it’s more that as you tap into the wisdom and experience of your Coach/Mentor and your team, you realize that there just may be a better way… or some better ideas that will help you reach the same kind of results a whole lot faster and in a more successful way! Strong Leaders embrace change because it’s needed for the greater good!
- Leaders recognize there will be problems along the way! If life was meant to be a bed of roses, we would have all been born a rose. But instead we were born different, unique and with our own quirks, problems and personalities. I heard a saying a long time ago, “this would be great if it weren’t for the people.” If it wasn’t for the people, there would be no business. There would be no success… and you would have no one to lead!
What makes a rose grow? Pruning it! What makes a business grow? Getting rid of what isn’t working to embrace what does! What makes a leader grow? Constant changing of one’s self to embrace wisdom, discernment and the experience of others. There will be problems along the way for every trailblazer, but instead of fighting or resisting the problems, learn from them and allow those problems to be the catalyst to take you to the next level.
I am incredibly grateful for all that I’ve learned over the years as I’ve grown as a leader. I’m not perfect yet… just ask those I lead. But I am in a constant mode of growth. I seek God first in everything I do. I also seek after those who are wiser than me and learn everything I can from them. I don’t wait for personal growth, I go after it!
What about you? What are you willing to do to grow as a leader?
By: Deb Hollis!