Insights from those who know us are always gifts, no matter how badly-wrapped they may be!
It is truly an honor to work with leadership teams who want to be their best. I’m fortunate to count those blessings weekly. Despite leaders’ focus on being their best, there are times when a well-intentioned colleague sharing an honest insight will land a stinging blow. Even I may land a stinging blow when I expect it’s a known issue I’m sharing. It is at those times that I take a deep breath and remember that even well-behaved people, when surprised, may act badly.
We won’t always know when we are about to give this type of “gift”—an insight that is in their blind spot—to a colleague. Because we see it, we expect surely they must see it, too. We don’t find out we are hitting a raw nerve until we see the look on their face or hear the words that are sometimes loudly shared in return. At times, we may anticipate that what we say will expose someone’s blind spot, and even though we may wince, we need to be kind and give them that gift of information. If we have the information to help leaders to be their best, we must deliver those gifts. If we are to be our best, we must seek those gifts of information from those around us, as well, no matter how badly wrapped those gifts may be.
In tennis, when you’re rallying baseline to baseline and expecting the cadence to continue, if a shot suddenly is hit short to you, you find yourself sprinting up to the net and having to quickly determine how you’ll recover. How will I meet the ball? What will I do with the ball when I get it? Will I recover? There may be a couple words being uttered in your mind to that player who just changed up your game—and I’ll bet those words are not “thank you.” When you do receive that short shot and return a winner, it just feels good. You know it helped you to up your game. You’re stronger and wiser now.
If we surround ourselves with others who are willing to help us be our best, we will grow. Along the way, we’ll need to have our winning shot at the ready—those two words—no, not the ones you may be inclined to utter in your head, but rather the words “thank you.” We need to be ready to say them out loud when we are given a surprising gift that will help us to be better, no matter how badly-wrapped the gift may have been. Instead of thinking, “Why couldn’t they have waited until later when I’m more ready for it?”, we need to reposition our thinking to, “How lucky am I that I surround myself with people willing to give me this gift?” As leaders willing to be our best, we need to be prepared to receive those surprise insights, if we are to grow.
I encourage you to put those words (Thank you.) in your mind. Practice them, just as you’d practice any new skill, so that when you need them most, you will be able to respond. You’ll be pondering how you’ll meet their information, what you’ll do with it when you receive it, and how you’ll recover with a new sense of strength and wisdom. Return the “thank you” well, and it’ll go further and faster, just as if you were returning the tennis ball by hitting it with the “sweet spot” of your racquet.
Insights from those who know us are always gifts—no matter how badly-wrapped they may be!