Friday, April 24, 2009

Leadership Opportunity Cost

The older I get the more I look for examples of leadership. In the majority of my posts on this blog there is a recurring theme of continuous learning no matter what the situation. Being a self proclaimed optimist I do my best to practice what I preach and learn even in difficult situations. I get emotional like anyone else but in the long run I tend to look back on difficult situations and realize that I learned as much if not more than I would had things gone smoothly. Check out my buddy’s guest post here for a more in depth explanation of this concept.

I was pumping a little iron in the good ol’ gym today listening to some thrash when I started to challenge this concept in a specific area. That area is leadership. Throughout my life I have been involved in sports, the military, business, etc. All of these fields provide a plethora of examples of leaders. Like anything else there are good leaders and bad leaders. I have always heeded the advice to learn from leaders both good and bad. From the good you learn what to emulate, from the bad you learn what not to do. Both are valuable, I do not doubt that. However, today when I was working out thinking about the ever present examples of poor leadership I started wondering if the two are equally valuable.

Am I, by being exposed more often than not to poor leadership, at a disadvantage in comparison to someone who is constantly surrounded by great leaders? Is there an opportunity cost to learning from piss poor leaders that outweighs the “what to avoid” knowledge and experience gained from being in their presence?

Rhetorical? Yes. Important to explore for yours and my personal development? Most definitely. Hockey is a small world. If the world we live in has people separated by six degrees of separation, then the hockey world is more in line with two degrees of separation. There aren’t too many names that come up that you haven’t played with or against or names that aren’t tied to someone that you have played with or against. In this small environment you get to notice trends amongst players, especially the ones above you on the hockey totem pole. I have noticed more often than not that the best players, the winners, grew up playing on winning teams. That is not to say that there aren’t diamonds in the rough because there are. I just think that the diamonds are more memorable and interesting than the winner who has been a winner on every team they have ever played on. What does this have to do with our discussion above? Well I think it has a lot to do with it. As I have said before, I believe sports parallel life. I don’t think it is a coincidence that a lot of winners stay winners.

Not only do I want to surround myself with great leaders because it provides a more enjoyable day to day experience. I want to surround myself with great examples so I can become a lifelong winner. Surround yourself with losers long enough and it is only a matter of time before you look in the mirror and are surprised by what you see. Life is really too short for that.
I am going to continue my lifelong commitment to learning from every scenario good and bad, but in environments where bad chi reigns I hope I am enlightened enough to know when to move on to a culture of success and righteousness.

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