I had lunch with a client recently. He’s crazy-successful – top flight MBA, top consultant in his field, was running a significant firm by age 40, charismatic, – your basic nightmare. Like most leaders, he’s had some bumps in his career. Much as we’d like to portray our lives as unending upward, hockey-stick-like trend lines, we all know that’s a farce. Life gives us dips and turns, some of our own making and others with no help from us at all.
We were talking about one of his speed-bumps and I asked a question that has become one of my favorites over the years.
What did you learn from that experience?
He looked across his chicken Pad Thai and said, “I need to become more thoughtful.”
Now there’s a show-stopper. In a world obsessed with speed, success, and stardom, you don’t hear many people vote for thoughtfulness.
For this high-octane leader, thoughtfulness looked like slowing down and thinking through how his grand ideas would actually get implemented. It meant thinking through the ramifications of his actions on other people. It meant reflecting on how to get others engaged before charging forward. It included little things like appreciating unseen efforts of colleagues and support staff.
What does thoughtfulness look like to you? Who do you know who has exemplified thoughtfulness in your work world?