We made the annual trip with our grandson to see Santa this week. He is three and a half years old and really fascinated with Santa from a distance. There was much debate about the outcome of the endeavor. Last year was more of a wrestling match with mom near Santa than sitting in his lap and talking with him about desired Christmas gifts. As we waited for Santa Claus to arrive there was much anticipation and when he walked up our grandson was obviously very taken with him – from a distance. This year he was much more aware of the need to talk with Santa to ensure receipt of the desired bounty on Christmas morning, but as we stood in line he was adamant saying “I don’t want to talk to him.” He was a little scared of Santa. He also wanted Santa to know what he wanted for Christmas.
Leadership begins with self. We all experience times when there is something we need or want but there is risk in pursuing it. It can be either an opportunity or a responsibility with clear potential benefits. Being an adult does not remove the human desire to avoid that which we anticipate will be unpleasant, or beyond that risky. It is true that levels of risk and the unpleasant are different for each of us, but at some point we all face both. It can be in professional or personal life, but it will occur. When those times arise we have to make a choice. Will we remain in perceived safety and ignore either the opportunity or the responsibility because we will not face the avoidance that is within us, or will we lead our self through the internal challenges?
The greatest leadership challenge is leading me well. As 2011 ends, we consider all the potential 2012 holds. The expression I hear to describe its potential is uncertainty. Uncertainty does not engender confidence in decision making for most of us, but decisions will be made. At some level most decisions begin with determining what we as individuals will or will not do. Where will our decisions take us if fear and avoidance are their primary drivers? Our grandson did sit on Santa’s lap much to our surprise. He seemed pleased with himself after he had. That may not seem like a big deal to us as adults, but I watched him lead himself through the internal resistance he faced with the support of those around him and enjoy the result. It was a great reminder of the joy found in accomplishment. What results will you enjoy because you lead yourself well in 2012?