BE WELL-ROUNDED

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What does Ashton Kutcher, a college visit and going back to school have in common? Well-roundedness. We are all created differently, but have four foundational quotients: intellectual (IQ), emotional (EQ), executional (XQ) and spiritual (SQ). In today’s fast-paced, changing world, excelling in only one function could severely limit you.  As we send our kids back to school or universities, the conversations likely center heavily on grades, SATs and study habits. Though we should expect an academic focus, I feel compelled to push back on the importance of being well-rounded. All of us, including me, must continue working towards a balanced IQ and EQ.

College Visit

The first college visit with our daughter was a positive experience. As I’m sure many of you with college-ready kids have experienced, these visits generate lots of energy and often anxiety and questions. Reflecting on our visit, about 80 percent of our time and conversations focused on academics and intellect. Knowing that today we have a record unemployment rate with college graduates, the need for a balanced EQ and IQ is more important than ever. The best thing we can do for college students is support well-rounded learning experiences aimed at developing a variety of intellectual and emotional qualities.

Back to School

As our kids start back to school, we’re encouraging them to find the IQ, EQ, XQ and SQ balance. School, grades and smarts are important (especially with my boys). But, I believe the ability to manage yourself and your interactions with others will become increasingly important. This type of intelligence functions independently of IQ and academic and technical aptitude, and is acquired through life experience, not schooling.

Ashton Kutcher

If you haven’t seen Ashton Kutcher’s speech at the Teen Choice Awards, I encourage you to watch it. He spoke to three things that lead to success: working hard for opportunities, being well-rounded and building your own life. We can all learn to lead by identifying the qualities we want to develop and consistently practicing them. The ability to be smart, thoughtful and generous contributes to excellent leaders.

CHALLENGE: How do you find balance between IQ, EQ, XQ and SQ? How are you incorporating that balance into conversations with your colleagues and family members?

TIME TO START

My eight year-old son joined thousands of kids around the country this week in starting back to school. Last week, my mantra to my kids was about focusing and utilizing the “fresh start.” The night before school, my son told me, “I like the fresh start, Dad, but I just don’t like the start.” The rest of the evening I was thinking about how simply he stated one of the most difficult aspects of leadership – getting started.

A FRESH START
The value of a fresh start may be immeasurable. It allows you a new perspective, a new lens, and usually a more optimistic view of a new job, new challenge, or a first day. That’s what makes a new start attractive. Yet, there are many things blocking us from this optimism. We often think of every hurdle in the book. Michael Hyatt is noted for commenting on this, “If you have intention, you will find the time.”

REMEMBER THE OUTCOME
Sometimes in life, you just need to act. Though the need is great, you still might find yourself unable to jump in. Focus on the outcomes and the payoffs at the end. As you focus on these, the satisfaction and the win at the end will get you through the difficultly of the start.

TRY TO DISCOVER THE WHY
As I reflected on my son’s comment, I realized his first day of school was much like my anxieties around structural change in the organization, understanding a new culture in a new business, or entering a new market with little experience. The initial reach out to begin the process can be scary, but knowing the bigger purpose – the why – can help you succeed.

CHALLENGE: What transformation or big project are you working on that needs to happen? You may need time planning, strategizing and analyzing for changes to come, but there comes a point you just have to get on the bus, and go.

DISCONNECTING

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Vacations are necessities for renewing energy and generating new perspectives. Last week, I enjoyed time off with my family at one of our favorite vacation destinations and came back refreshed. On the trip, I found myself reflecting on the ability to disconnect. Compared to vacations two years ago, the ease and the pull to stay connected was much greater for me and my entire family. With the increased use of smartphones and social media, I believe disconnecting has become more of an art than a science. It’s more difficult, but more important than ever.

Today, 61 percent plan to work on vacation. About 38 percent will read work-related emails, 30 percent will receive work-related calls and 32 percent will access work-related documents on work/home computers. The stats are accurate and based on them I would give myself a B- on disconnecting. Vacations provide a good time for reflection and thought, but for all of us, we need the ability to get away from it all.

There are different perspectives on disconnecting and no one answer exists. Some mentors tell me we’ll need more sabbaticals in the future. Another international mentor believes we need at least two weeks to even begin the disconnection. Whatever time frame works best for you and your family, all vacation must be taken. It’s obvious that the art of disconnecting has never been more important or more difficult, so we must be intentional.

CHALLENGE: Be intentional in how you disconnect. Then, be critical after you’ve disconnected about what worked and what didn’t.

DEPENDENCY ON THE CAUSE

We all desire purpose. Purpose drives passion. My passion is enriching lives of the food insecure and our employees. I believe courageous leaders remain grounded in purpose, even if it’s uncomfortable or inconvenient. This is something I battle every day.

Last week, as part of a routine practice of self-denial, I fasted for 18 hours. I usually keep this private, as self-denial is a personal journey in creating a greater dependency on faith. This time, though, I looked through an additional lens – the eyes of the hungry. Through this lens and after hearing my wife’s emotional story last week about a mother and daughter in the food pantry, my fasting had a renewed purpose.

Though the focus was on the hungry, by the end I was unable to focus on anything but food. When will I eat? I was jittery, fatigued and clouded by a headache and blurred vision. When will I eat? As my hunger pains intensified, I had a strong desire for unhealthy foods. When will I eat? A typically active person, I wanted nothing more than rest, but I needed activity to survive the slow passage of time. When will I eat?

Not knowing when your next meal will come is unimaginable, unbearable. It’s wrong that food insecure kids must suffer such physical, mental and emotional distress daily.

When the clock reached 18 hours, I could eat, and I had options. I could open a stocked refrigerator and choose from a variety of food items, or drive to a restaurant and order anything from the menu, both luxuries unattainable to those lacking food security.

Putting the cause or faith first brings humility that helps guide our leadership walk. Though I experienced only a glimpse of the daily struggle with hunger, I have a renewed focus that we must, and we can, ensure affordable, available food for all.

YOUR CHALLENGE: How do you make yourself smaller and your cause bigger? Experience something uncomfortable to maintain purpose and drive passion.

MOMENTS THAT MATTER

Our lives are built more on moments than days, months and years, and those moments matter. Capturing significant moments bring deeper meaning to experiences, conversations, relationships and belief systems. They inspire, challenge, thought provoke, stir emotion and set a vision for leadership. This past week, a significant moment impacted our family and strengthened my “why” as a leader.

THE MOMENT

My wife, Annette, helps families shop for food at a local food pantry. She shared an emotional story about a mother and daughter she met this week. Walking into the pantry with her mother, the 9-year-old daughter was overwhelmed by the amount of available food. They were gracious, innocent and appreciative. With limited pantry points and healthfulness a priority, their choices were deliberate. Nearing the end of their budgeted points, Annette mentioned the weekly special of 15 oranges for half a point. The daughter excitedly walked back towards the oranges. As she turned, Annette caught the daughter’s casual glance to her mother and a quiet whisper, “Mom this is really good. We won’t be hungry anymore.” That intimate moment instantly brought my wife to tears. Moved by the reality that our children have never needed to be thankful not to be hungry.

The moment my wife told me the story, I was wrecked by the innocence and the wrongness. Why should a child endure hours, days, and many restless nights longing for something to eat? Why does a parent have to feel the hurt of not being able to feed their child? Why should 9-year-olds have to find happiness in not being hungry?

THE MEANING

For me, the heavy emotion settled to renewed clarity, creativity and energy for why I do what I do every day. Our company, Elanco, helps chase the No. 1 disease in the world – hunger and malnutrition. It’s our responsibility as leaders to find solutions to ensure every person lives a healthy life full of excitement for tomorrow’s dreams.

But, what if my wife didn’t allow this moment to happen? What if I didn’t take a moment to listen to her story? What if we both didn’t get lost in the moment? I personally believe that God blesses us with these moments. But, we often allow busy-ness (business) to overshadow. As leaders, we need to slow down, open our eyes, and allow these moments to take us to the next level of leadership. MOMENTS MATTER.

THE CHALLENGE

Are you allowing yourself to fully experience the moments you’re purposefully given? After hearing Annette’s story, do you agree that ending hunger is the greatest cause you can get behind? Today, consider making it your cause.

Freedom to Lead

“Reading makes a full man, meditation a profound man, discourse a clear man.”– Benjamin Franklin

Last week we honored my country’s independence, a celebrated reminder of freedom in the US and the purposeful and courageous leadership of this country’s Founding Fathers. The 56 signatories of the Declaration of Independence were patriots, pledging their lives, fortunes and honor for the colonies. One of those patriots was Benjamin Franklin. He possessed three characteristics, among many, that enabled his courage and freedom to lead as a citizen, businessman, scientist, author and diplomat.

VISION: At a young age, Ben Franklin developed 13 virtues to guide his life. He wrote them down, focused on one per week, often failed, but through discipline became a man of purpose and great character.

HUMILITY: Franklin had many accomplishments and accolades, but always worked for the benefit of the cause – his 13th virtue. Cause first, self second.

LITERACY: With no formal education, Franklin looked to books to gain a depth of knowledge. He diversified his reading, focusing on a variety of topics that developed his well-rounded perspective.

Benjamin Franklin’s leadership paved the way for not only our country’s freedom, but the freedom for future leaders to think, act, speak and succeed.

YOUR CHALLENGE: Consider the following questions, document your answers and act:

  1. Do you understand the power of having the freedom to lead? It may be our best freedom.
  2.  How can you make a significant difference as an individual?
  3. Do you have a defined compass, your 13 virtues? Write them down.

Power in Disagreement

These last two weeks in Europe and Washington DC, I’ve been in discussions with people that disagreed with my point of view and were willing to share their strong beliefs against it. Below are a few recent examples:

Doom and Gloom Speaker 
Last week, I listened to a speaker with a negative approach to solving the food security issue. Although I disagreed with his point of view, I took seven pages of notes. He opened my mind, made me seek validation and challenged me to understand the thinking behind his behavior and position. I am less set on one solution (my solution), but more sensitive, more globally minded and wiser in my answers. However, my principles hold truer than ever, but my influence could be more effective.

Emerging Talent
In preparation for a presentation last week, an emerging talent in our company deeply vested in her positions did not connect with my main points. Her body language was so strong that she led me to ask, “You don’t agree do you?” She willingly spoke up and openly shared what wasn’t working. I walked away with a wider view on global food security and had a balcony moment about whether I was creating the right micro-environment or culture around me that challenges my opinions.

Politicians
This week, I was challenged by the realities of timelines and politics in Washington. My idea of urgency is four months from now, but they believe 12-24 months is urgent. They are more realistic and experienced with government processes and timelines, and that left me with a new reality to have better preparation.

There’s power in disagreement to strengthen your belief system. Consider the following :

  1. Complete disagreement: Get into environments more often where people completely disagree with you.
  2. Reflect, Write, Consider: Before jumping to defend, let it rest for one day. Being able to listen without an opportunity to debate allows for reflection.
  3. Micro-environment: Create a welcoming micro-environment that provokes disagreements and encourages you to question the other side of the argument.