Today I went skiing with my 7 year old son. He is at the age where freestyle skiing is all the rage and we’ve been focusing on conquering the beginner terrain park. My technique in teaching him has not been without failure. I have told him what to do, encouraged him to try and had him watch others ride boxes and rails that he so desires to achieve. But all my efforts in these tactics have come up with him being disappointed and not learning the intended goal. Down we go again, to ride up to the top and have another short run at it. Needless to say, it hasn’t been the most productive use of our time.
It was only today when I mustered the courage and demonstrated the techniques (of which I had never accomplished this particular feat before either) in where he really started to grasp the concept. It was not easy to do but I did it with as much authority as I could. Suddenly, it all started to come together for him and it came down to the well known adage, monkey see monkey do. He was then willing to try and not ski past the obstacles. It may not have been smooth his first run, but just like anything with practice it becomes easier. Looking back, I realized that this has been happening all along his skiing career. If I did a nice big turn, he did a nice big turn. If I skied across the run to a small jump, he skied across the run to the small jump. If I bent my knees to get more air, I observed that he would do the same. After telling him several times how to turn on a box, he just wasn’t doing it. Demonstrating my own instructions made all the difference and he followed my lead and conquered the 90 degree box slide….and his mom could not have been more proud.
As it is with all successful and good leaders. It is easy to mimic the qualities of others when we see their success. We also want to achieve greatness. Their exemplary character inspires us to become better ourselves. We will copy what they do, make decisions as they do, and become a leader as they have been. Monkey see, monkey do – There really is no difference. Just being around them, brings out the best in us. However when we have complacent managers, who tell us what to do and talk about theory without making it the reality, we become complacent ourselves. Their actions do not create an appropriate vision of what we may be asked to do and we may not have it in us to become sufficiently impassioned to do otherwise.
Just like I learned today that courage is required in these instances. It may be the first time we have charted our paths of leadership and it’s inevitable that we may fall. However when we do fall, we must be able to get up and try again, because others may be watching who do need to be sufficiently impassioned. They may need to see courage in action. We need to not only do things for personally victories but to be a good leader and inspire others. My efforts today were rewarded by seeing the skills and confidence develop in another. The satisfaction of helping someone, especially someone dear to my heart, achieve their goals. Sometimes we know what to do and we just need to have the courage to lead by example.