I was on a call with one of the smartest people I know. I was asking him all the “what” and “how to” questions I could think of. He had a job similar to mine but was years ahead of me. All I could think to do what ask him things that I could basically copy. But then he stopped me. And changed my life. And I’ve legit operated differently since then.
He said, “Swebb ... at some point you move from getting paid for what you do to getting paid for who you are.”
I was asking the wrong questions... I was asking things that would make me a busier project manager instead of a better leader.
A few months ago I was at my friend’s house swimming with the family. I was on a call while the kids were in the pool but I’d join them soon. My kids were eagerly awaiting my big splash and my permanent role as the climbing tree for them.
About 30 minutes later I jumped in and my son quickly shouted for all the hear ... “Great, dad, I’m stronger when you’re in the pool.” Not “I feel stronger” or “You’re so strong, dad.” But my son - aka someone I lead - gets stronger (and braver, bolder, more confident, better) when I’m around.
It was the best lesson in leadership I’d ever experienced first hand. I didn’t “do” anything to make my son stronger but get in the pool. Are you working day in and day out accomplishing “what’s”? Or does your presence move the needle? I’m not suggesting there aren’t things to do. I’ll vacuum and do laundry when I finish writing this. And I make Google Docs every week for people around the world on “how to build a second campus” and “why an online campus isn’t good for you.”
But ultimately I believe your leadership legacy (aka the point of leadership) is to instill confidence and belief into those you lead. The next generation needs what you have, not just what you know.