Have you ever thought of being an official? Yea, me either. What a crazy job. The men and women in stripes are never right. Go to any sporting event from 4 year olds to 40 year olds, Super Bowls to Biddy Ball, Olympic games to Rec Leagues - it doesn’t matter, an official’s call is always met with 50% dissatisfaction. I once saw an official take his whistle off and offer to hand it to an irate parent at a youth basketball game. Of course, the parent declined the offer and was quickly back to berating the same officials a few seconds later.
Anytime discussions of officials creep up, someone is guaranteed to say, “I would never want that job.” If pressed further, justifications like people hate you, you can never be right, and it’s a thankless job emerge. So why do they do it? Why choose to put yourself in that situation. Of course, some do it for extra money. But, I like to think the majority of them do it for a more pure reason - to give back, to provide structure for kids to grow and learn through sport. As with everything else, this purpose is the deciding factor in how officials will handle all of the negative chatter and antics surrounding their jobs.
So it is with leadership. Your purpose will establish the ceiling for everything. The stronger the purpose the more sacrifices you will be willing to make, the more obstacles you will overcome, and the more naysayers you will be willing to ignore.
Why Should We Care? I’m not going to wish you well on your leadership journey. As a matter of fact, I hope you struggle. I hope it’s hard, really hard. I hope you consider quitting. I hope you get so down on the idea of leading that you’re forced to look deep inside to find why you are even doing it - why you’re putting yourself through all the questioning, disappointment, and hate. You need that answer.
With your purpose in hand, and more importantly in heart, you will embrace challenges as part of the process. The adversity will galvanize you. It will inspire you to pursue your purpose regardless of what happens and what is said.
The words people say to us matters. It has an impact on how we think and what we do. We all know that those that boast about not caring what others think are precisely the ones that care the most. The key isn’t to not care about what others think, it’s to only give merit to what those closest to you think. Call it your inner circle, foxhole friends, or family but it’s important to identify who these people are. Letting those in that special group know how important their opinion is to you solidifies your clarity and empowers them to share their thoughts with you confidently.
Once you identify this inner circle, there are really only two things left to do:
Listen to them
Ignore the others
Here are couple activities to help you identify this special group. Remember, these are the people that care about you for who you are and what you stand for - not for what you do or how you can help them!
Do you care what people think? Should you care what people think? Most people will likely begin by saying you do care what people think, but you shouldn’t. In reality we should care what SOME people think - just not what everyone thinks. So whose opinions should matter to us? For this activity you will draw a 1 inch x 1 inch square on a piece of paper and write the names of all the people that care about you for who you are; that tell you the truth when it’s hard; and, is someone that you can talk to without feeling judged. Finally, spend a few minutes thinking intentionally about people outside your square that you often catch yourself listening to. Write those names outside the square. Now, tell those in your square that they are in your Square Squad!
For this activity you will want to begin with what a foxhole is and why trust is essential to staying alive. To begin, draw a circle on a piece of paper and write your name inside the circle at the top. We’ll call this 12 o’clock. The most important person in a foxhole is the one behind you because you can’t see anything in that direction. You must have 100% trust in them. At the bottom of the circle, 6 o’clock, write the name of the person you trust the most. The next 2 positions, at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock, are equally important. Write the names of the other 2 most trusted people in those places in the circle. This is your foxhole - you can apply it to your team, your family, or your friends. By identifying these people we clearly know whose opinions should matter to us. If they aren’t in your foxhole, we should not seek their approval. Send these people an email, text, or letter letting them know they are in your foxhole and how important they are to you. Too often we compromise our beliefs to appease opinions of people not in our inner circle. We never feel good about it and, more often than not, regret those compromises. Finding clarity in our purpose and values will provide the strength we need to stop seeking approval from those outside our foxhole.
For more information on building excellence in your teams, visit us at www.bluecollargrit.com. We would love to know how we could help!