leading by caring

I have a reputation as being a pretty selfish person. And really, there isn’t much I can do to dispute that. You don’t leave home at the age of 16 and move around every 3 years to make other people happy. So far, every major life decision I have made was to try and find happiness for myself. And truth be told, I don’t feel like I did anything wrong with that course. Put yourself first, try to find happiness and then use that strength to help and inspire others. An upset, depressed and low energy person doesn’t make anyone happy.

That being said, most of my career choices have also been focused on my own success. I have quit jobs, taken jobs, moved up and the down the West Coast and pretty much have done whatever I needed to achieve success. In the process I somehow became the guy who was able to get shit done. If that meant stepping on other people’s toes, so be it, I just wanted to get things done. Bosses like that. So, I really don’t regret doing that all that much, as there are just too many people in today’s workforce who’re slowing things down intentionally due to their own lack of talent or happiness. Sounds harsh, but it’s true.

But this year something happened. I’ve been fortunate to lead a team of people who’re as committed and as talented (much more talented probably) as I am. Meet Justin, meet Connie and meet Bri. These three not only care about their work, but they also care about each other. And myself. See, Warren Buffett always says there are three things to look for in people you hire. Intelligence, ambition and integrity. And if they don’t have the latter, the other two will kill you.

While nobody is perfect, Justin, Connie and Bri have all three of those qualities. En masse. Once I recognized that (which was pretty much the moment I met each one of them), something shifted in my mind. It became less about me, and more about them. Don’t get me wrong, my career is important. But really, at this point, I needed to learn how to engage others, how to make others shine and how to lead a team of people who I someday might just report to.

How do you lead such a team? You care. And you make them care about each other. Because, smart people with ambition don’t need you to explain things to them. They need to know that you’re there when they need you, and they need to feel appreciated when they do the same for you or each other. So for the first time in my career, I care less about my own career than I care about the future of people like Justin, Connie and Bri. Surround yourself with smart, ambitious people who you can trust and then do whatever you can to get out of the the way and let them succeed. Because the brighter their light shines, the more it shines on you.

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