You can’t lead with your eyes closed

3…2…1…

 
Ready or not!  Here I come!  
 

Wouldn’t it be silly if the child playing this game finished the countdown….and then kept his eyes closed?  If he never opened his eyes to look around for the other kids, would he ever find them?

Sometimes in leadership we purposely keep our eyes closed.  Other times we have no idea that we’ve been walking around, attempting to lead our teams, eyes closed.  In either case, it’s impossible to lead for long.

 

Are your eyes closed out of fear?

 

I do NOT like horror films.  My teenage son and husband enjoy watching them together, laughing when one of them gets spooked.  I, on the other hand, cannot get the images out of my head long after the credits have played.  If you take me to a horror movie, I will undoubtedly sit there with my eyes screwed shut and probably my hands over my ears.  I’m afraid of what I would see, so I choose not to see anything.

 

Leadership is scary – no doubt about that!  There are so many decisions to make, decisions that affect not only ourselves but others around us, and even people we may never meet.  You are often walking into the unknown.  Many times you are alone as you lead.  You may be afraid of what is next, of the unknown, of failure, of so many things.  Don’t make the mistake of closing your eyes out of fear in leadership.  Meet the challenges head on!

 

Are your eyes closed to keep you from seeing reality?

 

Have you ever played peek a boo with a small child?  I love playing that game!  It always makes me laugh when they keep their eyes closed in belief that you can’t see them.  They can’t see you, so in their little minds, there must not be anything going on around them.

You may be tempted to close your eyes as a leader when the going gets tough.  Unfortunately, ignoring reality doesn’t actually make it go away.  You will end up doing more harm as a leader if you choose not to face what is going on around you.  Instead, open your eyes to what is happening around you.  You may find that your perspective changes when you choose to see instead of choosing to hide.

 

Are your eyes closed from weariness?

 

I am the worst evening television watcher – just ask my husband.  We haven’t seen each other all day, the kids are finally in bed, and we settle in to watch a favorite show.  Ten minutes later he’s waking me up telling me to go to bed.  I can’t seem to help it – by the end of the day, I’m weary, and my body just wants to sleep!

I’ve experienced times as a leader when I wanted to just close my eyes and sleep it all away.  Pressures or disappointments have sapped my energy, and I’m not sure I have the strength to keep going.  Leadership can be exhausting.  Which means taking care of yourself is top priority.  You can’t take care of your team when you aren’t taking care of yourself.  When you find your eyes closing from weariness as you lead, find a way to get your energy back.  Have coffee with a mentor, read a new book, watch a TED talk, or simply sit and write down the things you are grateful for about your team.

I want to be a leader who leads with eyes open.  I don’t want to close my eyes out of fear, or to escape reality, or from weariness.  I want to see things in people that I have been blind to before.  I want to see opportunities that I may not have seen.  I want to be aware of things that I have the potential to miss.  I want to see how to approach challenges in a new way.

Do you have your eyes open as you lead?
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