Recently in my blogs and coaching videos, I’ve been focusing on some of the important lessons from our new book Captured by Love: Inspiring True Romance Stories from Vietnam POWs. Now you are probably thinking, how would lessons from love and romance fit the workplace?
Well, amazingly most of them do, and here’s one of the most important leadership concepts that great leaders recognize and accept:
“Each person is unique, and most are different from you in some way; so you must learn to celebrate differences.” [Tweet This]
We are all born with natural talents that drive our “go to” behaviors. We are all naturally good at some things and not so good at others. With our talents come our strengths—and our struggles. But when we are different, it’s very common to ignore the other person’s strengths and focus on their struggles. That causes a big problem at work and at home.
Surrounding Myself with Opposites
I’ve been successful at work mainly because of people who are very different from me. People who are detailed and organized and can stay focused on one area for a long time are often the ones who make me “look good.” In the Air Force as a flying supervisor and commander, I had schedulers who were fantastic. They had very detailed and organized talents and their work made our organization successful. Of course, they had some struggles because they did not have some talents that I had. But that’s okay; I took that into consideration when rating their performance and also when I gave them other assignments.
My brief coaching clip this month goes deeper on this topic. Please watch, and then continue reading the blog below –
When you read Captured by Love, you’ll learn that differences come up in every relationship. In our story, the last one in the book, my wife Mary and I highlight some of our differences and how we had to learn to celebrate each other’s talents (strengths) and accept the struggles that go with every strength.
For example, in the graphic above, being Fast-paced (the low score Trait on the Patience Factor, which also is high on logic and low on feelings) is a real strength for a fighter pilot and in key leadership roles where you have to make a quick decision. But the struggles that go with that Trait of being direct, intense, blunt, and focused on logic do not come across well when you are trying to connect with someone who scores high on the Patient Trait (sensitive to feelings) like Mary. Patient people have a keen radar for emotions and my Fast-paced struggles mentioned above can be very painful to her.
When we learned that we were three standard deviations apart on the Patience Factor, we began to understand that most of our relationship issues were because we had very different talents, which means different struggles.
How to Accept and Adapt
Based on my 27 years’ experience as a leadership coach and consultant, I can tell you that those same differences cause problems at work. But as our 20 love stories in the book point out (with a combined 1,000 years of marriage), there is a way to make it through the storm of differences.
We must learn to accept and adapt, and here are four ways to do it well –
- Accept the fact that people naturally have different talents. Yes, you may be able to struggle through most things and that’s good. We all must do that. But notice that others have talents you don’t; and in those areas, they catch on and get up to speed more quickly than you do. Think of me and my schedulers and record keepers.
- Recognize and celebrate the talents of others. For most, this means being intentional to look for those things that they do well and seem to come naturally.
- Encourage them and help them further develop their talents. When you learn to accept and adapt to respond positively to others who are different, they will feel valued and important, and their performance will improve. Also, learn how to help people navigate so they can use their talents more extensively every month/year.
- When you are hiring or assigning people to their roles, take into consideration their talents. I have real-life examples where I failed when I put the wrong talent in a special role. Thankfully I learned that lesson early. Be especially aware in areas like being Patient or Fast-paced, or whether the person is more people focused or task/results focused in their natural talents.
Download a free worksheet to help you understand yourself better and this will help you discover the talents of others more quickly.
So, if you are a leader, keep in mind that many of your people do not have the same talents, the same strengths as you. Most people typically know that, but we must learn to be intentional and accept those differences, focus on their strengths and let them work on their struggles.
LE [Tweet this Blog]
20 Top Gun Romance Stories! Pre-Order Your Copy
Captured by Love shares the real love stories of 20 Vietnam War POWs. Some had wives who started a movement that changed American foreign policy. Others came home and had to start over, while five single men met the loves of their lives.
Former POW Lee Ellis and love expert Greg Godek take you on a dramatic journey of faithfulness, passion, excitement, resilience, and practical love lessons from these couples.
From the Foreword Authors –
“What I have cherished but didn’t anticipate is a 50-year relationship with these couples. Please enjoy these dramatic and touching stories about my friends, and I hope that you’re as inspired as I was long ago.”
– Tony Orlando, Top-Selling Recording Artist, Songwriter, Concert Headliner, Network Television Star, Motion Picture Actor, Broadway Performer, and Author
“Most readers will experience a few tears here, but also lots of laughter as they engage with these stories. The stunning level of pain and sacrifice that our POWs endured is mind-boggling, but the love and romance that they have experienced is even more extraordinary!”
– Gary Sinise, Actor, Musician, Author, and Founder of the Gary Sinise Foundation
Pre-Order Your Copy on Amazon.com
Read some sample stories