From knowledge to action! – Harvard Insight 9

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I started my series of blogs three weeks ago with the notion that I wanted to add tuna meat to my buns. To refresh your memory, I used Tal Ben-Shahar’s hamburger analogy and said I am currently a vegetarian hamburger, which (for me) is not the most tasty when you eat it, but which is a good choice for a healthy future. I wanted to add an ingredient that would still ensure a healthy future, and at the same time adds more enjoyment here and now. I chose to add tuna as the delicious, healthy ingredient to enjoy while eating.

I had pretty clear reasons why I wanted to enjoy the current more, leading to pretty clear learning goals. As always I came to this course as a chick on a mission… I wanted to learn insights and skills to (1) stop denying myself the chance to be happy here and now, (2) be proud of my achievements, (3) take enough time to dig deeper in what I have developed, (4) enrich what is already there AND, most important for this class, (5) give others a chance to join me.

I was aiming to get a better insight in what my strengths and weaknesses are in being a leader and what it takes for me personally to inspire others. Now three weeks later, on the last day of our course, I reflect on what I have learned and I realize that I have gained a lot of new insights from the wisdom of our professor through his lessons and in the readings. And I learned a lot from translating my insights to my current world in the blogs and from all of you through your inspiring, thought provoking blogs and our open discussions.

I’m not even going to start to go into all the concrete things I’ve learned from literature and all the people I met in class. I will summarize that in my final essay, which by the way, I’m willing share with whoever wants to read it. In this post I will pause at the most important leadership principles I intend to focus on when I leave Harvard:

1: Balance view on strengths and opportunities

Being the perfectionist I am, I always focus on what I can learn. I focus on what I’m not good at. That is of course a great way to develop, but at the same time an unbalanced focus, results in feeling uncertain about myself. I should cherish my strengths and use them to inspire others. Just like Branson’s mother taught Richard not to be shy and focus on himself, but be extravert to focus on others. I should learn not to be insecure and focus on the incapabilities, but be proud and stand out to others with my capabilities.

2: Trust

The biggest challenge I’m facing is trust, in the broadest sense of the word. Of course point 1 already refers to trusting my own capabilities, Trusting that I’m good enough. It is because I have such high standards that I also find it difficult to trust others to do the best job. I hate having to admit this, but deep in my heart I know I have trouble genuinely trusting others to deliver to my standards. If I want to work more closely with others I need to learn how to select the people I do trust to be good enough and when I found them to truly trust that they will deliver. I know it’s silly to think this way, because I am very well aware of all the things others can do better. And I know how better things arise from collaboration. That is my ratio. I need to learn to also feel that is the case.

3: Loose control

Maybe this should be a sub-point of 2, because I need to let go of my control when I want to give other room to collaborate. But because it is such an important point for a perfectionist control freak like me, I decided to make a separate point of it, stressing the importance. 

4: Stand still

If I want to give people the opportunity to follow me, I need to stop running away. I need to learn how to stand still from time to time, to let others come close to me. One of the things I have enjoyed most these past three weeks has been to take reflection time. I loved to take time out every morning to reflect on how the learnings from class link to the topics I am focusing on in my life and work. Here it is easier, because the course is all I need to focus on. At home I need to organize reflection time to make sure it doesn’t get lost between being a consultant, mother, daughter, spouse and friend… My intention is to keep writing blogs, because there are so many insights I have not yet covered and I see how sharing your thoughts in blogs, invites others to reflect too. I find it a great way to receive feedback that clears your mind. And I find it great to share and hopefully inspire others. 

5: Open and team up

I hope that all the above will in the end lead to me opening up to myself and to others. I hope it will invite the right people to follow me and be inspired to team up to pick up new ideas and challenges together.

My Final Question is an open question to all the people I can learn from. Please always be open and give me your advice and tips on how to make my leadership principles a success. Any tips that you have from your own experience. Any feedback you have for me, based on what you’ve seen of me the past weeks. I welcome any ideas or thoughts. I have enjoyed sharing with you.

I am currently at Harvard in Boston for a summer course in Leadership. For this course I write blogs to deepen my learnings from our readings and discussions. To give those who are interested an insight in my students life and in my leadership questions and insights I share my class blogs here. When they are impossible to understand when you weren’t in class or participating in the discussion I will of course limit myself to fragments or I will rewrite slightly for them to still make sense.

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