While I'm no expert in leadership and won’t ever write any books that I myself would read, I've worked as a leader and manager for a number of years, managed teams within a number of voluntary and event groups, and also find myself at the helm of the world’s most important organisation – the suburban middle class working family (boom).
Killing your Darlings
Probably one of the biggest lessons I’ve had reinforced in my career over and over is the idea that to truly grow beyond our past achievements, we need to learn when to stop hanging our hat on them. I was bitch-slapped with this truth paddle while working for a large utility company a few years ago. I'd come into a new job tasked with producing a large and complex strategic report and building the associated systems that supported it in the long term. Now don’t hate me just because I score all the rad jobs ok?
Fast forward a year and it had all gone amazingly well. I had received some good feedback from key stakeholders and ultimately the proof was in the pudding – people were using it and getting what they needed.
I had a meeting with my boss at the time, and he promptly dived in and said “It’s time to walk away from the system. You’ve done a great job with it but I need your focus on this new thing now.”
Unbeknownst to me at the time, he had just smashed some sagely shit my way.
Hanging your hat on something you’ve already done will only set your benchmark in the past. Like that friend who only ever talks about the goals they scored before mortgages, businesses and family pressures got in the way. This happens when you want to keep the party going on the last thing you did well. Nailing the target, celebrating appropriately and then moving on is a habit that can allow you to recharge, refresh, and reset your benchmark so that you can move on to new things. This becomes even more important when you screw up…
In killing your darlings, you learn how to lose the shadows too. When the project you are managing goes downhill, or it burns to the ground before it even has roots – you have to know when to stop holding on to whatever good or poor outcome you got, and push yourself to evolve beyond it. Being free to start something new with completely fresh eyes is a gift that only you can give yourself.
Naturally, I’ve had a sneaky peek at that system since I moved on and there are heap of things I would do differently to make it better.
But I won’t.
Unless ya boy gettin paiiiiddd!!!! (<---I wrote this to be read in a sports-douche celebration voice, but feel free to read it however way you want)
"In writing, you must kill all your darlings"