Feb. 14, 2022

How My Cardiologist taught me about Kind Leadership (Challenge #2)

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Why is Kind Leadership all about healing?

Most Leaders think the answer to creating a better school or library is fixing stuff. And every once in a while, things are that simple! 

But that’s why focusing just on fixing can be so dangerous. I learned this from a pediatric cardiologist who was one of my first leadership role models. Healing yourself and others is more complicated than fixing problems. But it’s also the definition of kind leadership.
Kind Leadership Decision-Making (The Course): https://kindleadershipguild.com/course

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This episode was produced byPodcast Boutique.


Why do I say that Kind Leadership is all about healing?

Well, most Leaders think the answer to creating a better school or library is all about fixing stuff. And every once in a while, things are that simple! 

But that’s why focusing on fixing can be so dangerous. I learned this from a pediatric cardiologist who was actually one of my first leadership role models. Healing yourself and others is more complicated than fixing problems. But it’s also the definition of kind  leadership.  

 Welcome to the Kind Leadership Challenge! Here's the deal. Educational and library leaders like you give me 5-10 minutes of your Monday morning. In return, I'll empower you to heal yourself and your school or library. No long interviews, no celebrities, no lectures, no nonsense. Just short stories and simple challenges you can implement this week to build a better world.

There is one skill that you need most for these challenges, and everything else work and life throws at you. It's making decisions that get you and your team to your goals. That’s why I created the first Kind Leadership Guild Course, Kind Leadership Decision-making! This 8 part course gives you the toolkit to make effective, humane, and collaborative decisions. It covers decisions big and small, with timeframes short and long. And it’s self-paced, so you can finish it in 8 hours, 8 days, or 8 weeks. Just depends on what makes sense for you. And when you're done, you'll be able to handle any decision you're likely to encounter at work or home. You’ll also gain access to a private student community, regular group coaching calls, a thirty-minute 1 on 1 session with me, and more. For all the details, check the link in the show notes. Now, on to today’s  challenge!

In the last episode, I promised you a definition of kind leadership. But before we get there, we need to get straight on a definition of leadership in general. I define Leadership as the practice of making decisions that advance your vision and values in the wider world. Simple, right? 

Well, not all leadership is kind, because life isn’t anywhere near as simple as that definition. Every day you're juggling your workload, trying to produce results, and supporting your team and your community. And that approach can lay the groundwork for worse problems down the road. Fixing the immediate problem doesn’t always help you identify the deeper issues that caused the problem. Nor does it uncover the longer term impacts that problem had on other people. I’m going to tell you a little story about what I mean here. I have a heart defect called transposition of the great arteries. You can google it, but long story short, when I was born my body wasn’t getting very much oxygen at all. This was a problem. Fortunately, I had a great cardiologist and a great surgeon. Two years and a couple heart surgeries later, I was “fixed”. I more or less grew up as a normal kid with near-normal physical abilities. But I still felt like something was wrong. Yes, I was getting plenty of oxygen now. But my heart wasn’t normal—and never will be. I was always the slowest and clumsiest kid in my class. I had to go for yearly checkups to make sure everything was ok. Now it always was ok, and I knew I should feel lucky, not uneasy. But I was also a big dreamer. By the time I was 8 years old I was really worried. Would I be able to accomplish the big things I wanted to do with my life? Or would my heart hold me back? 

Well, I’ve learned that to practice kind leadership, you must grow beyond fixing to healing yourself, your team, and your community. fixing problems as the goal of your leadership practice is necessary at times. But it’s not sufficient. Fixing can keep you from seeing bigger patterns and threats at play. It can even cause you to overlook the consequences of your fixes on the people who must live with them. Healing, on the other hand, focuses on the people and communities who live with what you see as the problem. Healing helps all of you to grow stronger and healthier for the long term. This has been a lifelong lesson for me. But I started learning it when I was 8, and decided to share my big worry. 

Dr. Razook had been my doctor since the day I was born. and I saw him as sort of a combination friendly uncle and super-genius. He delighted in my geeky curiosity about how the heart worked, and ALWAYS took my questions seriously. At the end of my annual checkup, after delivering me a clean bill of health once more, he asked me if I had any questions. I took a deep breath and launched into my worries. My terrible handwriting, my string of abysmal failures on the presidential fitness test. All the things it felt like I’d never be able to do because of my heart. He listened. He didn’t minimize my worries. He reassured me that everything I was experiencing was normal for someone like me. And then he said the words that changed my life. He said, “I’ve known you for a long time. If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.” And something shifted in me, permanently. The point wasn’t so much the advice itself, though that was great advice for an 8 year old who worried about her limitations. It was that he gave me a tool I could use to heal my worry throughout my life. And in healing my worries, I could find the success and happiness that my “fix” enabled me to attain. My surgery is why I’m alive and reasonably healthy today in my mid-40s. However, that conversation with Dr. Razook, along with similar talks I've had with other healers in other fields, is what helped me learn what it is that makes kind leadership unique. 

And here it comes. Here’s the second definition for today—Kind Leadership. Kind leadership is the practice of making healing decisions that enable you and your organization to build a better world. That said, kindness looks different in different situations or with different people or in different organizational cultures. Being supportive of a struggling team member is Kind Leadership. So is setting and enforcing boundaries. Encouraging your team to dream big is kind, but so is reminding them to keep it doable. Pitching in when times are busy is kind, and so is stepping back to let folks shine. And that brings us to one of the one of the big goals I have for the kind leadership challenge podcast. To help you learn what kind leadership looks like in all the different situations you handle every day. 

So here’s your challenge for this week. I want you to go through your recent to-do lists. Identify a recent finished tasks, particularly a sticky problem that you were really proud of fixing. And then I want you to think about it. About the contest, about the people involved. And ask yourself, is there something at play right now in this issue that needs healing as well as fixing? And how can I take action on it this week?

If you want to work on that challenge of healing leadership with other likeminded leaders, then join our free facebook group! This private community of practice with over 1200 members can help you heal yourself, your school or library, and your community  in weeks, not years. All you have to do is go to the link in the show notes and sign up. Thanks for listening and for taking action to become a kinder leader. Never doubt that day by day, you’re building a better world, even if you can't see it yet. Until next time, stay kind now. 

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