Posted on March 17, 2016
To give you a glimpse into my world this morning, I will try to describe my surroundings. I am sitting next to a clean window at a coffee shop. The steam is coming off of a fresh brew of my favorite light roast coffee. Outside the bright blue sky is crisp, and the sun is beaming down on a great morning. I am not sure if you can tell by my writing but spring is in the air, and it seems as though the cold winter days are coming to a close.
For some people, spring brings in a time to start new things. It is time to do the spring cleaning, to start the new workout regiment, or in my case take out the bike and paddle board.
I started thinking about spring and also about this spring cleaning idea. It made me think about what it would look like if leaders took time each year to do a little spring cleaning ourselves.
The term spring cleaning refers to any heavy duty cleaning or organizing that helps a person get things in order. Some research has found that the origin of spring cleaning can be traced back to the ancient Jewish practice of thoroughly cleansing the home in anticipation of the springtime memorial feast of Passover. During Passover, Israelites are not only supposed to refrain from leavened bread. They are told to rid their homes of even small remnants of anything with yeast. It is believed that the Israelites conducted a thorough “spring cleaning” of the house, followed by a traditional hunt for crumbs by candlelight on the evening before the Passover holiday began.
As leaders, there are things that we allow into our personalities and our methods that we should clean out once a year. I am sure that there are many that you can think of, but I just wanted to share three that I have decided to clean out myself.
First, competitiveness. I have found that there are times when I end up competing with my team. Instead of trying to help them succeed, I compete for the spotlight, for the accolades, for the win. This is not leadership, in fact, this is the opposite of leadership. If you are competing with someone, it is obvious that they are not on your team. It is impossible to compete with your team. Now someone might want to write me and say that healthy competition can make us all a better team, that is true but we are human, and competition puts one person against another. It is not healthy to compete with your team.
Second, as a leader, we need to get rid of any bad feelings we have toward others. As a normal human being, this is a problem of mine. Being the leader requires me to set my feeling aside and focus on what is best for the team. This usually mean that I never actually deal with things that might make me upset, I just store those thoughts, and it causes resentment or anger issues later. A right thing to do is to take this time of year to clean out that storage bin of hurt or ill feelings and just wipe the slate clean. If you feel it is necessary for a personal conversation to repair things, then by all means, go ahead. But, if cleaning the slate is not your goal, just forget the conversation. Just be the leader that you are supposed to be and sweep those things right out of the door.
Lastly, let’s face a fact, some of our ideas and methods are just cluttering up the place. We need to clean some of those things out and make room for fresh new ideas. If the reason we are doing things is because we have always done them that way, well that is the worst reason in the world for you to stick to something. A leader is supposed to be on the look out for fresh new ways to accomplish the goal. We can only be open for new ideas when we are willing to get rid of the old ideas.
This week’s experiment is to do a little spring cleaning. Open up the windows, turn up the radio, let the fresh air come in and get rid of the clutter. Let me know if there are other things that you think that we as leaders should clean out.