One of the most important things I’ve learned in my career (and life) is that you have to be able to bend. In our modern, stressed out, balls to the wall corporate culture, things get heated, people have differing opinions and motives can oftentimes be at odds. This is the case even if folks have the best of intentions and are just trying to do what they think is right. It makes it even harder when there are people that have less than the best of intentions and are so focused on getting to the top that they don’t mind crushing a few bystanders on the way.
When I was in my 20s, I had an opinion about everything and I argued about everything. And of course I was always right (just ask me). I still think I’m right most of the time, but I’ve learned that life is too short to be constantly at battle and frankly, when you have a fight that you need to take on, you don’t want to be too diluted or too damn worn out to take it on. Bottom line: Pick your battles.
Here are areas that I apply this to:
1) My teenager.. let as much roll off as possible
- long hair,
- the occasional smart ass remark,
- wants to have to do his chores when he wants, not when I want.
- the friends he picks – unless they are real trouble makers
Battles to pick:
- no swearing online or around girls,
- be respectful, kind & a gentleman; especially to Mom, Grandma and Girlfriend,
- follow through with commitments
You’ll notice no texting while driving, drugs, alcohol and unprotected sex aren’t even on the list. Those aren’t negotiable and are not up for battle – he just knows he’ll have the wrath of Mom. And we talk about them… A LOT. You can imagine his joy :-).
2) My subordinates.. again, let as much roll as possible
- flexible work hours,
- the way projects get accomplished as long as time frames, scope and a high level project plan are established,
- how they manage their staff as long as they are respectful and fair,
- time off as long as it doesn’t interfere with something very important – even just a mental health day should be encouraged).
Battles to pick:
- being respectful, kind and professional
- Effective communication including establishing understanding of expectations, timelines, resources and what will need to prioritized in order to get the job done
- follow through with commitments – communicating with effected parties as challenges arise, bringing forth possible solutions, ramifications and risk mitigation.
- Effective, measurable movement toward goals
Bottom line – don’t be a control freak. Pick the battles that matter. Focus on the 80/20 whether at work or at home. Empower and trust those around you. You will get more done and you will inspire your employees and children to take charge and be the best versions of their selves.