By Joe Carella, Psy. D., Licensed Psychologist, Certified CEO Effectiveness Executive Coach in Success Through Self-Knowledge
One of the best things I recall about being a kid is the ability to call a “do-over.” If you don’t really like the outcome of your attempt to complete a task in a sport or a roll of the die in a board game you could just call for a do-over. I can still recall the feeling of exhilaration when my friends were willing to grant it! I don’t recall exactly when “do-overs” disappeared from my repertoire of coping strategies but I certainly do wish I could have them back. I certainly know that if I had do-overs – I would be willing to take many more risks!
I recently completed a workshop with a leadership team that had the goal of functioning together more effectively. We engaged in an activity intended to increase trust through the process of sharing experiences which challenged them to be vulnerable with each other. The one question that yielded the most powerful reactions was “What was a mistake that you made professionally that you wish you had a do-over on?” I felt privileged to share in the experience as the team members demonstrated great courage in telling their stories. As the support was shone for fellow team members and the tears flowed, I was reminded of Bill Anton’s blog, Free Thought & The Twenty Pound Race. In particular, Anton wrote, “the risks we are willing to take, are ultimately a reflection of our relationship with ourselves.” The members of this team, though young and emerging leaders, were clearly willing to increase their self-knowledge as they risked exposure. They were able to shed the 20 lb weights that encumber so many of us because we are afraid to risk.
Reflecting on the group activity later that evening, I wondered what it is that enabled team members to be vulnerable. I think it started with the mindset that vulnerability was not viewed as weakness! The degree of vulnerability deepened with each person’s disclosure of what they wished they could do-over. Essentially, the first risk lead to another risk which led to a greater risk. In fact, because the 6th person took a greater risk to be vulnerable than the 1st person, the 1st person decided to share another do-over which matched the level of vulnerability of the others. Is it possible that willingness to be vulnerable and take risks is contagious? I certainly hope so, and I believe so.
To lead more effectively, try enhancing your relationship with yourself and your team by reviewing the do-overs you wish you could have. Remember though, take the risk to be vulnerable first and watch the willingness to share spread.