Many of the clients we serve have significantly more real world experience than I do. They’ve published multiple books, led multi-billion dollar companies, spoken around the world, and more often than not, have a decade or more life experience than I do.
For this reason, I often find myself in a learner-mode. People seem to like to give me advice, direction, encouragement, and mentoring. I soak it up. Why not? I have a lot to learn. I’m grateful to learn from those who are farther along on the journey.
In the two plus years I’ve worked with Mark Miller, an executive from Chick-Fil-A, I’ve cherished the times he shifts into coaching me. I’m a better leader and a better strategist because of the ways he’s pushed me to deeper thinking. His encouragement and direction led me to consider and adopt core values for my company. These values have significantly shaped the creation of our culture.
I’ve learned from Chip Bell, who treated our work together like a valued partnership from our first in-person meeting. We first met in Dallas, where we were both attending a conference. When we wrapped up our initial strategy session, he sent me back to my hotel via his hotel’s driver — in a Bentley.
Recently, working with Cheryl Bachelder, the CEO of Popeyes, I’ve enjoyed the chance to see her strong, focused, yet gentle approach. Though she is not coaching me directly during our work together, she’s pushed me to refine processes. She has an amazing way of offering encouragement and praise while maintaining high expectations for performance.
Working with such accomplished professionals, I find role models to emulate. I ask questions. I accept direction. I learn. And I grow.
What I don’t want to do is show up as needy or floundering:
- I want to show up as strong. I am strong.
- I want to show up as confident. I am confident.
- I want to show up as determined. I am determined.
I want to be authentically open to direction and learning, bringing my best while being open to the insights of people who have more experience and insight to share. It’s a tricky balance to achieve: being open to learn from those with more experience while standing tall in how far I’ve come already.