A critical doer capitalizes on opportunities to be better
There’s no better day than Christmas Eve, a day of celebration and hope, to tell the story of a wonderful mother. In previous posts I’ve introduced you to my children; let me now introduce you to my wife, Gwen.
Gwen is the grand matriarch of our family and for that we are so thankful. It’s a special person that can pour out love enough for her own family and still have some left for others. In a profession where we all move frequently, taking care of each other…which includes families…is a necessity for people to excel in a demanding line of work while maintaining a healthy life at home. As anyone who knows her will attest, she’s been a difference maker for families in times of joy and challenge and she hasn’t done it out of obligation…she does it out of love, and it’s one of the million reasons why I love her.
The way she’s helped our children through the challenges of moving is where her story of critical doing begins. We’ve been fortunate that every place we’ve lived has been the best place we’ve lived. With that being the case, leaving a nice area and good friends has never been easy.
Immediately after moving, Gwen asked (not the requesting kind of asking) each of the children to tell her one good thing about the new location every day. There was no getting around it…before anyone could move on, they had to verbalize something positive about their new home. She didn’t demand that in one fell swoop the homesickness for our previous location be put away; she coached them to appreciate our new home one day at a time, one positive thing at a time.
Even before Chip and Dan Heath wrote about the concept of “shrinking the change” in their bestseller Switch: Changing Things When Change Is Hard, Gwen was using the concept to take a tough situation and make it better. She couldn’t control making the homesickness go away instantly…but she could make it better one day, one positive thing at a time. What’s really incredible is watching our children do that for others now as they’ve either started or completed college and have come in contact with many who have never had to experience being a “new guy” before.
The concept Gwen used in helping the kids adapt to moves is totally relevant to organizations and businesses. Organizations that pass on opportunities to make small meaningful changes today that improve lives and processes because they want to “do it right” with a large solution later need to understand the power of addressing today’s problems today while a systematic and proactive approach is put in place to address the future. By evidence of Gwen addressing today’s problem today, the kids learned to keep a positive mindset in adapting to change that will contribute to their success for a lifetime. I’d say that’s doing it for the long term and “doing it right.”
So once again I leave you with this challenge…what opportunity have you passed on to make an improvement today believing that you can’t have both better and ideal? Find that problem and address it…failing to address today’s problems today can preclude you from even having a tomorrow. Remember, both better and ideal are the obligation of leaders and a hallmark of a critical doer. Find one thing you can do every day and make it better…it’s what a critical doer like Gwen would…do!
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