You rely on thread every day, whether you realize it or not. Yes, the obvious example is your clothing, but think about other subtle items that you count on like seatbelts, most books, and other items in your daily life.
Today we’ll look at how we can model that purpose of thread and become better leaders ourselves.
It connects things together
Thread’s number 1 purpose is to connect things together.
Be the thread by connecting people across your network. Build continuity between groups in your work environment. Help make a connection for someone who is trying to find a job. I find a lot of joy and value in being able to a part of someone’s story by helping them connect with the right people/resource.
Subordinates of connected leaders are three times as likely to be high performing employees!
If done right, you won’t even notice it
My father was my scout leader growing up and he also sewed all of the patches on our uniforms. The patches were on there but it wasn’t pretty. Thread mostly matched the patch and it was sloppy at best. His goal was to get the patch on there and didn’t hold a lot of value on the finer details of how it looked. His sewing did the job, but sometimes the sew job brought more attention to itself than the actual award did.
Being a great connector means that there will be many times when you are essential to success, but should not have the spotlight. Set ego aside and let others have the spotlight. The whole project or goal may have hinged on how you helped them connect to the people and resources that they needed, It doesn’t matter. In the long term, you’ll gain more equity in your team when you equip for success and then move out of the way rather than equipping and then holding up the trophy at the end.
Now that I’m back in scouts leading my son, I take our uniforms to a professional that uses a machine and invisible thread. It looks great and you can’t even see how it’s sewed on.
The more it’s used the stronger it becomes
I’ve had to do some crazy sewing for some of the costumes at Disney running events. There are never instructions, just crazy ideas to turn into reality. There are times where 1 pass of thread wouldn’t work to secure the two pieces….there were times when 5 passes wouldn’t do it! Every pass always makes the bond a little stronger. You just keep going until you get the desired look and strength.
A one-and-done connection with someone might be good, but it will weaken over time and certainly won’t hold up against stress and wear and tear. Invest time in your connections and network, especially those that are important to you. Not all of your connections with others should be at a 10, just ensure that you are making the extras touches and passes with those that you care about and those that you want to get to know and support more.
Be the thread for others. Be a leader that connects people to others, do it well without hogging the spotlight and be present enough to keep those relationships solid.
People rely on each other to make it through life and It often falls down to a close circle of friends and family. Some people aren’t as fortunate to have a strong inner circle and as a result, they isolate themselves, their mental and physical health deteriorates and they will never reach their fullest potential.
When I say Be the Why, I mean for you to be someone else’s why. “You are the reason I made it through all of this.” “I would follow you anywhere.” “You kept me from making some really bad decisions.”
Be a relationship builder
Strong relationships can be taken for granted or undervalued. One of the top reasons great people stay in awful jobs is because of the relationships that they have built with their peers. They are willing to endure stress and dissatisfaction in order to keep relationships that are important to them alive.
Be the Why for someone by building a strong and edifying relationship that adds true value to the other person. When someone feels like you have impacted their life and care for them, they will do just about anything for you. Listen to the person’s troubles and fill in their blind spots for them. Take time with them; time is more valuable than money itself in most cases.
People are creatures of habit and highly value consistency. Oddly enough, consistency is also hard to come by in human interactions. Rooted in poor planning and prioritization and made worse by modern-day distractions, being consistent can be more elusive than it has to be.
Be the Why for someone by being consistent. Be careful of the things that you say you’ll do or promise and then always come through on those things that you do. Just being consistent in a few small things with someone will go along way. Every time I play music with a guy in town, he texts me afterward to thank me. In five years, he has never not texted me! It’s not a monumental deal for him to do, but it has added a lot to our friendship. I know he appreciates me and I feel valued and as a result, I’ve gone out of my way at times to play just because he’s going to be there. (More to this story can be found at PTB# 107: Finding Leadership in Music)
Be the Why by your willingness to sacrifice things that are important to you for the sake fo the other person. It’s important to have a sense of what the other person feels is a sacrifice so that there is not any unneeded tension. For example Let’s say I missed seeing my favorite band to help my daughter with a school project. She might not realize they were in town so she shows no appreciation for the gesture. I’m then upset because I feel like she doesn’t value what I gave up to help her. On the other hand, My co-worker is over the top grateful because I gave up my lunch to help them on a project when lunches really aren’t that important to me.
Understand that sometimes people will over and undervalue the sacrifices that you make for them. Prepare yourself mentally for both of those occasions. Don’t let the misunderstanding of the amount of sacrifice impact your willingness to continue to sacrifice things for them.
Someone out there likely needs you to be the Why for them. Look at those around you. Build them up through strengthening the relationship and being the most consistent person they know. Sacrifice what you need to in order for others to be successful. Being the Why for someone can change, and even save, a life.
A few months ago I was working on the set of Dynasty and as with any film set, there is a lot of downtime. A few of us were hanging out between shots and watched as giant industrial cranes worked on building projects across the road. One person commented on the fragility of such of a large piece of equipment and they were right. As large and strong as they are, everything depends on the counterweight for it to stay together.
Serving without a show
It’s likely that you haven’t even noticed the counterweight on these large cranes. (It’s the rectangle piece at the end of the crane in this week’s picture) That’s because it’s the one part that is not putting on a show. You notice these cranes pivoting over the skyline and lifting large objects from one place to another. The counterweight may be the most important piece, but it largely goes unrecognized.
When you are working hard at your job or helping someone else out, don’t do it for the glory or the credit. Do it because you can make an impact on others. It can be difficult to work hard on a project only for someone else to get all the credit for it. You may feel underappreciated, undervalued or left out. Keep at your best and reward yourself if you feel yourself falling into this situation. Enjoy some pampering, go out to your favorite restaurant, or take a trip. Be sure to keep your work or assistance at the high level you are known for.
Some people actually love to play this part of the counterweight role. They love to help and contribute but have no desire to be in the spotlight. If this is you be an encouragement to those around you that may struggle in this area.
The obvious function of the counterweight is to provide balance. Without it, the crane comes tumbling down as soon as it picks something up. Groupthink, where everyone constantly shares the same consensus, is dangerous for the team and business. Be brave and speak out when you feel a decision or action isn’t the best solution and support those that do the same.
My wife serves as my counterweight often. She balances out my decision making and helps me make sure that I am not overworked or overcommitted. Make sure you have someone in your life that is the counterweight for you and then be that for someone else as well.
The perfect amount of presence
The counterweight has to be weighted perfectly to be functional. If it’s too light the crane will tip over forward. If it’s too heavy, you’ve just created a version of a catapult.
Use your self-awareness skills to find that perfect balance and presence. Step in when needed to provide a missing perspective while avoiding being too forceful in the interaction. Understand your place on the team and project. If you are the counterweight, don’t try to make yourself in the cabin, the arm, or the hook. Continually analyze your contribution and interaction with others and make adjustments as needed.
The counterweight may not be the center of attention, but it plays a critical role in keeping everything together. Help without need for the spotlight, and balance out those around you.
I thoroughly enjoyed archery when I was growing up. It was always exciting to pull the bowstring back, feel the strength manifest, and satisfaction that comes as the arrow left the bow and hit the target. It was also fun just to shoot some to see how far the arrow would go! The bow is both elegant and strong and it can teach us some things about our leadership walk.
Each bow has a unique fit and purpose
I most often shot a traditional recurve bow but also shot some primitive and compound bows as well. There are more varieties than you may realize. A primitive bow has a few as 5 parts and some of the more complicated compound bows have 23 parts. They also range in size from 54in to 72in. No matter the differences, they do the exact same thing; they get the arrow down range. Their uniqueness comes from the archer and the purpose of the shot.
My mentor once told me about great football coaches. They enjoy and foster a sense of uniqueness in their players as long as they are getting the ball down the field. Some players run it straight down the middle, and others are showier and run all over the place. Celebrate your uniqueness and don’t try to change yourself because you think that’s what others want. In the same sense celebrate the uniqueness of your teammates and co-workers. Despite what makes you different, you are working towards a common goal.
The tension and stress make things happen.
If the bow stayed straight, it would be useless. It’s power and use comes after it the bowstring is attached and curves the bow. If you ever have picked up or used a bow, you can feel the power at this point. The tension and strength almost begin to sing. If you see a bow, take a moment to run your hand across it and down the bowstring. You’ll feel its power.
Our life and leadership abilities are the same way. As much as people run away from stress and tension, there is such a thing as a healthy amount of stress and it does make us stronger people. Use those moments to rise up, and show your full potential.
Great shots are taken with time.
Despite what you see in Avengers as Hawkeye lets arrows fly nearly as fast as bullets, a great and true shot takes time…… but not too much time. You should control your breathing, steady your aim and let go. Taking too much time will wear out the strength in your arm.
You shouldn’t go through life like Hawkeye constantly firing off arrows everywhere. You’ll seldom hit what you are aiming at. Take a moment in those important moments to slow down, collect your thoughts (and perhaps your breathing) to make a wise and thoughtful decision.
Be the bow. Be confident in your unique purpose, maximize stress and tension for success and make sure your shots are purposeful and on target.
Horses are known for their strength and poise and have been a symbol of power for humans for centuries. The domestication of wild horses was essential in the migration of early man to spread across the globe as it allowed them to carry supplies and move across large distances.
Horses are very unique in the way they interact with each other and are finely tuned to their environment. Here are a few qualities that they possess that can help us in our own leadership and life walk.
They are very social
We were not made to live a life in isolation and neither are horses. They socialize with each other, express emotions and mourn the loss of a horse that was close to them. Cigna health ran a study on loneliness in Americans and found that 47% reported being lonely either sometimes or all the time.
Multiple studies show that the “social” in social media is not enough to fill that need in a person’s life. In fact if you spend more than two hours a day on social media sites you are twice as likely to experience social anxiety. If you find yourself running to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or ticktock all the time, get a game plan to moderate your habit. Begin to put activities in your life that don’t revolve around a phone. Go on a hike, take up a hobby, go to a party with friends, see a movie. Start small and reconnect with others.
They have keen instincts and act instantly
Much like rabbits (Be the Rabbit, EP #155), horses have a keen sense of their surroundings. They can see over 300 degrees and can “look” in two different directions at the same time. If their ears are up and turned away from the direction of their eyes, they are looking in two places at once. If they sense danger, they immediately act. There is no thinking, they are just moving as quickly as possible to avoid conflict.
We sometimes get paralysis by indecision in our leadership and life walk. While it’s good to have as much information as possible, it can also be harmful to wait it out. Trust your instincts and make the move necessary to keep yourself ahead of danger. Move, evaluate and then go from there.
They have leadership laws and work together.
Herds of horses usually have two leaders. The mare leads the heard, the stallion protects it. They generally don’t lay down at the same time when resting. One or more will keep watch as the others lay down first. Horses appreciate good structure in the group and each plays a part in contributing to the well being of the herd.
Structure is a good thing for your team. As simple as it sounds, a good team structure still eludes many groups at schools, work, and volunteer organizations. Establish a clear leader and support system and spell out what each person’s role and responsibility are to the group. Help those around you that are falling short instead of talking bad about them and letting them continue to fail. Have that courage to have those tough conversations when needed.
Horses’ lives depend on the power of their teamwork and leadership. Lead your team in the same way.
Be strong like the horse. Stay connected to others, trust your instincts and build great team-building skills.
Don’t stress over anything that you can’t change. -Mickey Mouse
Mickey Mouse is an icon known around the world. You can meet him at 6 different parks around the world, watch him on his own TV channel or go to your local store and find clothing and accessories to show your love for the mouse. Sure we love him, but can we improve our leadership and life by being more like him.
Mickey’s origin was rooted when Walt needed him most.
Mickey wasn’t the first Disney creation. Walt first created Oswald the Rabbit to much success. When going back to renegotiate his contract, Universal took ownership and hired Walt’s team out from underneath him. Walt returned home with basically nothing. It was during this time that Mickey Mouse was created.
Mickey Mouse became the catalyst that jump-started the Walt Disney organization into the worldwide powerhouse that it is today.
You can be that same catalyst for someone else. Who around you needs some encouragement? Who has a ton of potential that just needs a little investment to get going? You have an opportunity to be a part of someone’s success story. Be attentive to those moments along your journey.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
At 90-years-old Mickey sure looks good and not too much has changed. His facial profile has changed a little and he’s had an outfit change or two, but for the most part, he’s the exact Mickey he was in 1928. No doubt, there has been temptation over the years to modernize him, alter his style, and change his tone to match the times. Disney has thankfully avoided those temptations and kept Mickey true to his first creation.
Mickey is a great reminder for us to stay true to ourselves as well. Your values and moral compass are not fashion pieces that should swap out with the latest fad. Build your character on timeless principles so that you won’t be forgotten. Does anyone remember Bucky O’Hare, Mr. Bogus or Street Sharks? The reason why you (likely) don’t is that they were built around a fad instead of around character. When people’s taste moved on, those characters ceased to be relevant. Hold true to yourself and stand up against peer and social pressure to be something that you are not.
Mickey puts others above himself
I don’t think I’ve ever seen Mickey act in a selfish way. He looks out for his friends and puts others ahead of himself. He loves on kids and parents in the parks, helps his friends in all of their crazy animated adventures and is an inclusive ambassador at special events.
How do you make people love a mouse? You put in all the qualities that we desire to be and then you make him relatable. Suddenly Mickey is someone we can all connect with.
Be that connection for others. Put others above yourself. That doesn’t mean that you have to let people take advantage of you, or that you never get what you want. Use the unique skills and talents that you have to help your friends, family, and coworkers. Shield pride away and stay relatable to others no matter how successful you become. Help others without an agenda of your own, have fun and catalog the memories.
Be Mickey Mouse. Love others above yourself, stay true to your yourself and be the catalyst for change in your workplace, family and friends’ lives.