An old preacher told me “When I started preaching they said: ‘never admit you’re wrong, never get too close to your people, and never admit you don’t know what you’re doing'”. When he said this I didn’t know what to say other than to disappoint him with “Um… I’m the exact opposite of all those things”.
How do you talk to your wife? How do you talk to your kids? Your friends? How do you talk at work? To your boss? To your employees?
My dad gave me the “sex talk” when I was 13. The most awkward 30 seconds of my life. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my dad, but he was from the baby boomer generation. I would almost bet money that the 30 second sex talk I got was 30 seconds more than he got. Kind of funny now…
The Venue small group that we do life with were on me to start talking with my girls about that sort of thing. I knew they were right but still hate them for it:), and so I talked to Arwen when she was 10. I tried something different though, I started a Conversation. It had all the awkward factor that my dad’s talk had, but it was only the start. The beginning, not the beginning and the ending. You see, I want to have a rolling conversation with her about it. Equally awkward as it progresses, but I want to be part of the process. The last thing I want for her is to feel like she has to figure this out by herself or with her peers. Why? Because I want her to have the kind of intimacy that my marriage has. Intimacy doesn’t happen by accident.
Conversations create buy in.
Here is a free leadership tip: don’t just delegate tasks, delegate authority. Start a conversation with the people that work with you. I’ll bet you are already starting to guess that you’re not the smartest person in your organization? The next best thing, I suppose, is having smart people on your team. Put the chairs in a circle and ask the question: “How could we do this better?”. When people “buy in” they work harder. It becomes “OUR” project.
Newsflash business owners: your employee’s goal in life is not for YOU to retire early in Hawaii! Have you ever asked them how their families are doing? What their vacation plans are? Why would they be interested in your goals if you aren’t interested in theirs?
It’s ok to have awkward, heartfelt conversations. I suspect the people who are loyal to me are that way because I was loyal to them first. They know I would drop a lot to get to them if they were in trouble. I care what they think. I ask them questions. I need them. My family needs them. My marriage needs them. And they know it. How? I tell them.
The old preacher looked at me and paused before he answered vehemently: “No, you don’t understand,” he said, “THEY were wrong!”