“I Must Forever Make the Complex Simple”
Jackson (near 5 years old): “Daddy, I would like to tell you about Marvin Ladder King Junior. Did you know that he had a Dream”?
Me: “I do know of Martin Luther King Junior, Jackson, but I would like to hear what you know of him”
Jackson: “well daddy, he had a dream that people would love each other like Jesus loves them. But daddy, a bad guy shot him and he died. Why would someone kill him because of the color of his skin daddy? His skin is like my friend Avery’s, and it is beautiful”.
“Why”? The most unanswerable question posed by a son to his father. The answer could send the child down a path of bigotry and hate, fear, or plant the seed for social justice through love.
That conversation occurred at 5:30 Monday evening and had a profound impact on my week. As I was studying tonight I came upon a quote by Martin Luther King, and the title of this weeks blog, “I must forever make the complex simple”. MLK spoke these words in response to how he, as a preacher (not yet a Civil Rights activist), would lead.
Jackson and I had a deep conversation, as deep as one can have with a five year old, with chirps from Colin chanting, “Marvel Ladder King Juror” from the left side of the car. Tuesday I started my next journey in leadership determined to make the complex simple.
My number one priority as a leader is to build a “pay it forward” culture. Each week I gather the 6 leaders that report to me and the 15 managers that, collectively, report to them. We spend an hour doing a book study (currently working through Emotional Intelligence 2.0). This week I focused our conversation around Emotions, all the while thinking back to my conversation with Jackson, and the leadership of MLK. I ant to share some of that conversation with you and I hope you find it valuable to pay it forward at work, home, and social settings.
100% of the time, 10 billion out of 10 billion times, it is certain that the result of an event is an emotion. Seeing my wife walk down the aisle on 6/12/2010, Jackson’s birth on 2/9/12, and Colin’s birth on 4/15/14 caused. Controllable happiness. 6/26/2015 when we laid our son Andrew to rest was uncontrollable pain. Seeing two planes crash into the twin towers on 9/11/2001 caused fear and anger. These were al emotions stemming from life events, but let’s keep it simple. How do you respond at work when your “buttons are pushed”, your time is demanded, an employee complains, a work item is pass due. Write down your emotion. Now how do you respond?
As I posed these questions to the management team Friday, you could see wheels turning. Our environment is one that is highly scrutinized and often filled with pressure. We have multiple layers of quality control, and that alone, causes hundreds of potential emotional responses daily. Our team focused on healthy habits, big and small, that we can do every day to create an accountable environment, but one built on respect and collaboration. Here are some takeaways for you!
1. Own the emotion- you cannot prevent feeling, but you can control how you respond
2. Respond- Instead of thinking “how to respond” think about “how not” to respond. Don’t respond in anger, condescending, or uncaring
3. Physical Responses- when emotions are heated your hearing shuts down and your eyes glaze over. Make a physical response by turning your head, shift your body, etc to reset your eyes and ears.
4. Pay it forward- My favorite! Now that my managers are aware of how emotions impact their day-to-day, they are committed to making conscious choices to own their emotions and control their responses. They in turn pass on the healthy habits to their teams. The fruit we see is better responses between departments (I.e. AML and QC, regulator partnerships, etc.
I would love to hear feedback if you try any of these tips out! Have a great week everyone!