My grand-daughter and I were at a The World Bird Sanctuary just west of St. Louis, MO. They have some great birds and wonderful venues to see the birds. It was fascinating. You could see the birds up close, listen to their calls and see the splendor of the varieties of colors, sizes and physical differences. At one point, we stood in front of a wire-fenced area containing several bald eagles sitting majestically. They watched everything around them that was moving. I remarked to Hannah how wonderful and amazing these great birds were. I looked over at her. She’d picked up a couple of rocks from the trail and was completely lost in the wonder of them. Here were all these fantastic birds and she was looking at paving rocks – I mean really!
Then it hit me. I walked over, bent down and picked up a few rocks. I talked with her about what she liked about them. Could I have tried to interest her in the birds? That’s what had caught my attention and was why we had come there. But at that point, her interest was in the rocks. So we talked about rocks for a few moments and threw a couple down into the surrounding woods. I tickled her and she tickled me back. We had a couple laughs. Then an owl hooted and got her attention. We were off to find the outspoken owl. We were back on track in what I called ‘Fowl Territory’.
Leadership means knowing the goal and the direction. It’s also taking time to let people experience their own interests before you guide them back on track. Time off track can often be the most important part of the journey. It may even provide important input and insights to get everyone further down the tracks.
To demand immediate or constant attention can frustrate others and become counterproductive. Hannah and I went to see birds and birds we saw. But we also enjoyed rocks, tender ribs and some laughs. Hannah taught me more about leadership than I learned about the birds on that day.
Points to Ponder –
Can you think of a time when your attention to the matter was actually detrimental to a project?
When was a time when someone influenced you by taking an interest in you rather than the task at hand?
When was a time when you took interest in a person instead of the project?