A senior mentor of mine shared this valuable quote during our first mentoring session.
“The perfect train never leaves the station but the good enough train leaves every time”
At the time I was not 100% sure on how to take it as it can create mixed understanding. I would never have said I was a perfectionist by any stretch of the imagination but I always give everything my best. I believe my misconception came from my initial thought of ‘good enough’ being a slap happy approach. I now realise it is more about giving it a go and being willing and ready to learn and develop on every iteration of what you do.
This played out perfectly for me at around 3pm Sunday afternoon, time to mow the lawn. As I was putting my shoes on I yelled out to the family, just ducking out to mow the lawn, won’t be long. My 13 year old daughters, who had been working on school assignments all day, yells out ok, I’m done it here, then with a loud moan says, I still have 8,000 steps to go to reach my goal today. Being the optimistic that I am, I said, you can come and mow the lawn if you want that will get about 6, 000 steps for you.
Well, I nearly fell over when she ran out of her room and agreed. My surprise had come as she had never shown any interest in this activity in the past. I was overcome with an instant thought of OMG what have I done! Call me weird, but this is my little time out on a Sunday afternoon, I do my best thinking while mowing. I had a quick internal chat and told myself to get over it and look at the opportunity that had just presented itself.
I kicked into leadership and trainer mode, don’t worry ‘over protective parent’ mode was still heavily engaged. I was stepping out of my comfort zone. I can be a little over protective when it comes to my kids (ok a lot).
First things first, safety briefing, “Bitey bits’ see this big blue disk, all the blades are under that. Do NOT put your hands or feet anywhere near the bottom, side or back of that area. This lever is the accelerator, we ONLY use that uphill, if all goes bad let go and get out of the way. Safety briefing done!! Ear and eye protection on. Let’s get started…how hard could it be?
Who would have thought there were so many valuable leadership lessons to be gained from teaching your kids to mow the lawn.
Lesson 1: You don’t cut other people’s grass
Before too long my 9 year old son came outside, FOMO had kicked it. Can I do one lap please, just one lap? I explained to him that he could not, this was his sisters turn and the front yard was all about her. I explained that you don’t move in or cut other peoples grass, much like you don’t take and use someone else’s own idea for your own reward and recognition. We negotiated that he could mow the back yard.
Lesson 2: Succession planning for the future
Whilst I am no business analyst, my rough calculations given consideration to weather, seasonal conditions and my partners help our yard would require mowing approximately 40 times per year, through my leadership, guidance and mentoring I have just developed the capability in my children and reduced my future mowing by about 50%….winning.
Lesson 3: A leaders role is one of a talent curator
There is talent everyone, it is your responsibility to identify opportunity to develop talent. While automation is upon us, I think we still have many years of mowing left. My kids learned a valuable life lesson in how to mow the lawn on Sunday and also the importance of contributing to all the chores required to manage a household.
Lesson 4: Taking risks and having a go
This one was probably more for me, realising that exposing yourself and others to calculated risk is ok, sometimes it will work out in your favour, others times it will not.
Did it take twice as long to mow the grass? Yes, but that’s ok.
Were there bits of grass missed along the way? Yes, but that’s ok.
Did it look good anyway? Yes it did front and back!
Did my kids learn some valuable life lessons? Yes
Lesson 5: Teamwork creates great results
When we work together, we all win. The grass was mowed, the kids have learnt life lessons and I still enjoyed a nice cold beer, (it was hard work walking every lap biting my tongue…I mean providing guidance.
Parenting is akin to Leadership…it does not need to be fast paced, take your time to nurture and grow your people (or kidlets). Good enough allows us to create and develop a growth mindset to strive for continuous growth and improvement in ourselves and people around us.
I challenge you to take a step back from your leadership position and walk alongside to guide and develop those around you and together you will achieve greatness.