We never know where we will find our latest leadership lesson. In order to receive new – or relearn – leadership lessons, we need to be open to input from all sources and resources. Last week I gained a reinforced leadership lesson from that fountain of wisdom – Instagram!

No wisdom from Instagram, you say? Only photos from your friends, family members and colleagues? Photos that disappear after a finite amount of time – if you do not see them, they are gone? I tend to think that way about Instagram. Shame on me!

My wife was kind enough to tell me about a simple Instagram post that articulated a number of life admonitions that connect to critical leadership reminders. I would like to review them with you as we contemplate how to be effective leaders for ourselves and our teammates.
1. Make Peace with Your Past
So many of us dwell on our past mistakes and decisions. As we grow, we realize that perseverating on past errors or missteps does not serve us unless we use those experiences as lessons and apply those lessons moving forward on our own leadership paths. The past is done. We cannot change it. We can make ourselves unhappy reliving it or bemoaning past decisions. Or we can ruefully smile about those past experiences and remind ourselves how they have informed our current decision-making and prioritizing. They have allowed us to be more effective leaders today.

2. What Other People Think of You Is None of Your Business
I wish I had realized this leadership wisdom when I was a young leader. In my 20’s and 30’s, I was so interested in what colleagues thought of me that I allowed my desire to be liked to adversely impact my own leadership style and decisions. As I grew, both emotionally and psychologically, I realized that being respected by my peers was more important than being liked. As leaders, we must embrace self-respect and demonstrate empathy and kindness toward others. We cannot control what other people think of us. We can only control our own attitude, decisions and behavior. How other people choose to interpret our leadership choices and actions is up to them.

3. Time Heals Almost Everything – Give It Time
This is a tough leadership lesson. In the moment, it is so easy to focus upon leadership errors – poor choices, mismanaged processes, unwieldy execution, fractious meetings, unfortunate hiring decisions, tough colleague interactions, client or customer complaints or lousy interactions with our own manager. The list goes on and on. I know – I have been there and could spend hours recounting anecdotes about all these things. In fact, when I was a young leader, I DID spend hours reliving unfortunate events or interactions. That did not serve me, and I guarantee it will not serve you. Learn lessons. Seek forgiveness when you believe doing so is appropriate. However, know that time has a healing power. Give yourself permission to allow time to work its positive effect on you and your colleagues.

That concludes Part I of this leadership post. Please return next week for Part II. And, as always, enjoy a good week.

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