Perpetual Motion, Learning and Leading
Oh ye seekers after perpetual motion, how many vain chimeras have you pursued? Go and take your place with the alchemists. – Leonardo da Vinci, 1494
Leonardo da Vinci had no interest in perpetual motion but others did. Attempts by some of the greatest minds, including early designs by Indian mathematician–astronomer Bhaskara II, who described a wheel (Bhāskara’s wheel) that he claimed could run forever, fell short. He and many others never achieved success thanks to the inherent violation of the first and second laws of thermodynamics which to be honest, I know very little about! I am thankful for Google!
Yet, perpetual motion from a humanities standpoint is quite achievable. In fact, it happens every moment of every day on this big blue marble we call planet earth, whether we like it or not! It’s about connecting with others and giving yourself permission to be human. To feel human! It’s an energy charged, experience driven journey.
It’s akin to the ethereal reaction to the first notes of a song that has a way of cutting through to your soul every time it is played. Maybe it’s a line to a poem? Maybe it’s the bus stop where you enjoyed your first real kiss. The first time you held your child’s hand? Perpetual motion arrives in the form of powerful, layered connections we share with others. It’s unavoidable. The Beatles orchestrated so many of those types of triggers for so many. I remember watching the audience at a Paul McCartney concert and every song he played connected on a uniquely personal level with so many around me. It was powerful. I played amateur and pro football for 25 years of my life and I cannot remember the score of a game but I can tell you about the people like I met them yesterday.
The constant ebb and flow within shared relationships is a driving force in how we live our lives and has a direct influence on our success and our failures. It all depends on if we choose to embrace the moment at hand or turn away. Connect or disconnect? Relationship driven perpetual motion creates growth opportunities that can make us better people and better leaders, if and only if, we strive to build authentic, genuine connections with those around us. The depth of the relationships within any team will determine the strength of the structure.
There is an “i” in Team! If you invest in and inspire those around you are creating game changers!
Based on a 40 hour work week, we spend 24% of our time at work. That is significant. If the time spent at work does not fulfill, the natural inclination is to move to a space that does. Sure, there may be an element of fight with the hope of avoiding exiting stage left but overall, the instinct to take flight will rule. People quit leadership, not jobs. Leadership is about creating the right place and right time for others. Accounting for life and its habit of getting in the way beyond the office and being agile from a leadership and game planning standpoint is invaluable. You can’t fire everyone when things get complicated!
I had a mentor remind me that “the moment you stop learning, you stop leading!”. It is a message that has resonated with me through the stages of my life and with good reason. It shaped my approach to every facet of my life including team building, leadership and coaching. It has transcended time. So simple yet so sublime. By extension, if you stop learning and stop leading, to a degree you stop living.
Over the past year or so, I have studied the Navy Seal program. It led to discovering Mark Divine, former Navy Seal Commander and founder of Seal Fit (www.sealfit.com). During a guest appearance on Inside Quest (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvDO_1GUnAo&t=1724s), he introduced the concept of the Authentic Warrior.
When one thinks of Navy Seals, one thinks of an alpha male. A member of a military machine that is mission driven. Yet, their missions are not strolls through Central Park. They are taking on some harrowing endeavors.What drives them to take on such a challenge? It has to be something personal. The justification has to run deep. The willingness to sacrifice your life for another person or a cause is something you don’t do every day. Any warrior can battle.The authentic warrior is driven by a love for others including his enemy. The authentic warrior is driven by authenticity and a desire to earn the trust and respect of those around him. If I had the choice of a teammate I trusted versus a teammate who was driven by performance, I would choose the trusted teammate every time because I know he/she will be there with me when things go awry. In military vernacular, they would have my six and I would have theirs. There is a shared, I have no doubt this is “my right place and right time” mindset intertwined within the fabric of the group.
A warrior without that connection to his peers does not become a Seal.
Successful teams enjoy a clarity that runs through each member. People know where they stand and they know what the team stands for. As Divine says, “ if you don’t know what you stand for, you will fall for everything!”.
Divine introduced the color code situational awareness system and it changed things for me. The system reminded me that the degree of success or failure we experience in life is directly connected to the investment we make in the critical, make or break moments. The system parallels the 4 Stages of Learning!
White – your radar is turned off and not open to opportunities that come to pass. 94% of the population resides in that space. Life is beating them up and they are taking it, believing it is part of their destiny, their fate. (Unconscious Incompetence – you have no idea you have no idea!)
Yellow – the radar has now been turned on. You have opened up your intuitive receptors and can anticipate potential changes around you. You can sense opportunities and threats. You are aware of life’s punches and you are now in a position to duck, weave and counter punch! You now have your hands on the steering wheel. It is a relaxed frame of mind that keeps me away from the “all or nothing” paralyzing thought process that burdens entrepreneurs and leaders. (Conscious Incompetence – a light comes on! Hallelujah! You realized you don’t know as much as you thought and it is time to get learning!)
Orange – signifies a shift from a relaxed awareness to a focused, precise awareness. The act of plotting solutions and strategies kicks into gear in this stage. I can see the landscape for what it truly is and not what I want it to be and based on that truth, I can navigate with on a daily basis with greater efficiency and I am prepared for anything that comes around the pike. (Conscious Competence – you are now finding your groove. You are in the game.)
Red – it is go time. Time to act based on accurate data procured from the situation. You are not just driving the car, you are driving a Lamborghini! You are a high performance machine ready for the express lane. (Unconscious Competence – Mastery!)
It is personal!
Let’s bring it back to “the moment you stop learning, you stop leading!” message.
The very first thing I do when I begin to work with any client is get to know them, peccadillo’s and all. Doesn’t matter if it’s a Fortune 500 company, a not for profit agency, a family run business, a start-up or an elite athletic team, I want the process to become personal and here is that word again, AUTHENTIC! I want the client to know I am invested in the journey and that for us to attain success, that investment must be reciprocal.
I remind clients that there are 4-5 turning point type moments in a year that will heavily influence the direction of the team. The rub is, the team has no idea when those moments will arrive. That’s the unpredictable beauty about the entire deal.
To connect or disconnect. If the team strives to capture every learning opportunity that arises, muscle memory, habit forming decision making will take place and lead you to your destination. If the team opts not to strive and capture every learning opportunity that arises, muscle memory, habit forming decision making will take place and lead you in the wrong direction.
There are two ways to learn lessons and there are two ways to lead. The invested and eventually, easy way, or the divested, spin your wheels and get nowhere way!
Live to learn, learn to live!
Ken Evraire is a quintessential team player who loves coaching, team building and talking leadership! He is father to 3 precocious children, a former professional football player that has since donated his brain and believes the old school coach was wrong…there is indeed an “i” in Team!
To contact Ken email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.