Open Your Eyes
One of the benefits of summer is the lighter load created by a break in my role as adjunct professor. I tend to fill this space with business development meetings, workshops, and professional growth. I also allow myself the pleasure of adding fiction to the stack of professional and spiritual development books on my desk.
Having thoroughly enjoyed The Invention of Wings, a friend suggested All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr. This is a must read for those who love historical fiction. The book weaves the story of several characters including a blind French girl and a German orphan whose paths collide as they attempt to survive the devastation of World War II.
One of my favorite quotes from the book is, "open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever". The quote appears several times in the book and its impact is powerful. Many of us will read this quote and immediately think of our own mortality but I believe its message is about being fully present every moment of every day. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to remove the blinders, listen with our whole self, and give the gift of time.
As a leader, your role is to cast the vision, set the strategy and to ensure that the daily activities of the organization align with the long-term goals. This is vitally important but what do you need to "open your eyes and see" in the day-to-day lives of your associates? Roam the halls. Eat lunch in the cafeteria. Ask him what he enjoys most about his work. Ask her about what she's learned in the last week. Check in with key executives and see if they need assistance in removing roadblocks. Ask him about his son's baseball game. Ask her about her daughter's science fair competition. Open your eyes and see what you can. Your organization will be better and so will you.