Learning is a positive and progressive word. Words like ‘teaching’ and ‘proving’ have an element of determination in them. But all these three words deal with some tangible or intangible form of learning.
We always use a frame of reference to map and gauge our progress. And then again progress cannot always be mapped and plotted and measured. A frame of reference serves an important purpose here. When we use our past as a frame of reference, we realize how much we have grown as a person. We feel we now have a more mature outlook towards life. We know that we are more tolerant and more patient now compared to our past version.
Perhaps we are learning to think twice before we judge others because we are slowly learning the art of seeing things from another person’s point of view. Some of our most profound learning happens when we spend some ‘me’ time. Solo walks, meditation, spending time with nature and other areas that emit positive vibrations always put us on this kind of a reflective mode.
We realize that in order to live our lives the way we want to – amidst all the mental and emotional chaos that surrounds us – we need to hold the reins of our life firmly in our hands. We have to be leaders of our own life. It is most definitely not an easy task – but the learning that we glean from each of our experiences will pave the way for us.
Let’s admit this. We all lead extremely busy hectic personal and professional lives. Simply taking care of the different schedules of the family members or our team is a humongous task. We have to deal with people of different age groups and temperaments. Different members within the family and our team have different perspectives and different priorities. This often causes a lot of undue, unnecessary and unexpected friction.
Often we are forced to deal with these issues on an SOS basis, because one minute everything was smooth sailing and the next minute we have a crisis on our hands. Our calm, cool composed demeanour deserts us at this time as we are caught in a whirlpool of conflicting emotions. The pressure to handle the crisis effectively is intense.
The problem has to be resolved first. That is always the first priority. There is no time to factor in the egos of the team or family members. There is no time to think of other people’s perspectives. Often we cannot even consider anyone’s feelings during a crisis. Something is top top top priority. Someone’s life may be at stake.
A huge amount of money may be at stake. The trust of the shareholders may be at stake. The reputation of the company may be at stake. So some hard hitting decisions need to be taken. Only the people who are involved in resolving this kind of a crisis know how nerve wracking and mind boggling the entire scenario is.
Donning the cap of a leader during such situations is most certainly not an easy task. But with every such small and/or big experience that we face, the leader within us is learning some invaluable trait. We can reflect on how we handled the entire scenario even while learning to pat ourselves on our backs. We can acknowledge and analyse our mistakes even while learning from them.
Learning to deal with our dear dear critics is an entirely different ball game altogether. For every decision that we take, we will have a handful of critics who believe it is their birth right to sit judgement and pass comments on our decisions and our lives. Such people may have been adversely impacted by the judgement or the decision taken by us.
And they don’t like the new changed scenario. So they will resort to ugly arguments and high strung dramatics to draw attention to their predicament. Frayed nerves, overwrought emotions, angry outbursts, foul language, verbal duels that tend to filter out of the cabins or to the street side, banging doors, cold silences……….all of us have experienced such ugly scenarios at least once in our life time so far.
A true leader rises above all these petty issues. He knows himself inside out. He retains his objective point of view at all times. He is unfazed by this kind of criticism because he is quietly confident about his own decisions. He may have made mistakes but he chooses not to justify his stance to others. He simply learns from his own mistakes, rectifies them to the best of his ability and moves on with his life.
A true leader dedicates his life to his personal development. A true leader helps other people grow. A true leader perfectly complements the weaknesses of his family members and team mates. A true leader also understands the inherent strengths of his team and family members. A true leader creates opportunities for his family members and his team mates so that they can progress in an area that they are passionate about.
A true leader is like that rare gem who understands that the affected person is hurt, angry, disappointed and extremely sad about this new changed scenario and is refusing to accept it. In fact he can witness the hurt and the anger affecting their ego and their pride. ‘How dare he/she/they do this or say this or think like this of “ME”! “I, ME, MYSELF, and MINE”……the ugly horns of their pride and their ego. He can see through it all.
He knows that they are unconsciously entering into the trap of a vicious cycle. A single phrase defines it all – ‘One man up ship’! He can see them becoming self-defensive. He can see them demarcating the issue into right and wrong. He can see them colour it vividly with their glorious maimed prejudices and distorted perspectives. Instead of finding out the real absolute truth – and rectifying their erroneous thinking and distorted perspective – he knows they will spend a major chunk of their life in trying to prove that they are superior to him and/or others.
This leader too is learning a lot from their mistakes. Because he is able to view things from their perspective he understands them and chooses to diverge from their way of thinking.
He can see them lose focus on leading their own life the way they want to. They are totally embroiled in teaching a lesson to their enemies. Overnight the person who has hurt them so much has become their arch enemy. They cannot stand the sight of him. He can see their hearts getting filled with the bitterness of hatred. Their ‘enemy’ may have done a zillion good things for them in the past. But a single perceived unjust act has wiped out everything from their memories and hearts and minds.
They will toss their words back at him. They will pass sarcastic remarks when they pass by him. They will wait for the right opportunity to pay him back in the same coin. They want him to suffer like they suffered. They allow their minds (ego) and their hearts (emotions) to play monkey games with their lives.
And sadly, he can see them consciously and knowingly weave in bitterness into their own lives. They forget to lead their lives their way. They seem to derive a lot of satisfaction and happiness by playing such petty mind games with their ‘enemy’.
True leaders simply know that such situations, crises and calamities are not in our control. The reaction and the responses of other people are also never in our control. He knows that as true leaders of our own lives, we will always have a choice.
We can choose to silence our critics with our silence. People who are mature, open and flexible with their mind sets will have faith in his ability, judgement, good sense, value system and thinking. Such people may not totally agree with the outcome or decision that is taken, but will understand that it is for the greater good of the organization or family. Such people will rarely criticize the leader.
A true leader will value such people. At an appropriate time he/she may even disclose the details of why he had to take such a tough decision at that point of time to such people.
But a true leader will never never justify his stance to his critics. He simply has no time for such frivolous talk. He has better things to do with his life. He focuses on leading his life in a worthwhile manner. His silence is his strongest message.