We are fortunate that in my area of Eastern Washington state, we don’t have a whole lot of mosquitoes in our climate. And, our local mosquito control organization does a great job of keeping it that way. But I’m from the Midwest, where mosquitoes are often called “the state bird,” and I go hiking in places where these little buggers like to frequent. Aren’t mosquitoes just irritating—let alone how they irritate your skin–sometimes making you want to claw your epidermis off?
What do we observe about mosquitoes?
- They get you in the dark when you can’t see them as well.
- They hang out in the shade and near water when you are recovering from the sun’s rays.
- They bite your skin when it’s exposed.
- They get you when you don’t have bug spray on (or when you don’t have netting around you when sleeping).
You know me. All of life is an opportunity from which to draw a leadership illustration–so we can grow from a relatable experience. How might our interaction with mosquitoes apply to self-leadership?
- It’s more difficult to grow forward when you are alone and in your own head. Some of us make a living overthinking situations until we are paralyzed with the options. That keeps us stuck and not accomplishing our goals. It’s also not emotionally healthy to live life devoid of multiple relationships (most difficult now during COVID). And isolated people don’t make the very best decisions (without input from other experts or others on our team). Force yourself to reach out for connections or re-connections both personally and professionally in order to thrive.
- If you aren’t vigilant to keep growing, you’ll start slipping backward. Those without personal and professional growth plans could end up in the same place one year from now as they are right now–and that would be regretful. Do you have the next seminar or class on your calendar? Got time set aside to listen to podcasts or audio books? What skill do you want to learn and apply this next quarter? Put those goals in writing and share them with a supervisor, colleague, or success partner.
- You are most vulnerable to failing or stagnating when living out your weaknesses instead of your strengths. You are more prone to burnout when staying too long in your weak areas: you can do it for a while, but not regularly. If your strengths are “on the shelf” and not in play each week, you aren’t contributing your best self to a world (or workplace) that desperately needs you at your best. Sure, you have to boost those weak areas into acceptable status, but what about making your strengths even stronger? Take the Clifton Strengths assessment to hone in on your top five to post and keep in front of you weekly.
- Without good boundaries and accountability, it’s unlikely you’ll stay on track quite as well as when you do. It’s so easy to “squirrel” to the convenient, easy, or fun tasks instead of the priorities with the greatest payoff to your vision or your company’s vision. It takes great self-discipline to block out time for your “big rocks” and obey your calendar and honor those times to do those tasks, finishing them before starting another. Tell someone what your top 3 priorities are for the day (or weekend) so that they can ask you how you are doing on them. Get a coach who can loosely hold you accountable for banging out those tasks–so you can celebrate the progress you are making.
Yes, we can learn 4 lessons from mosquitoes. I’m hoping these reminders will keep you Growing Forward into the fall! If your team needs a facilitated retreat (with appropriate social distancing) to set goals and a strategic direction to end this year strong, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org