Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look upon them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death.
– Sun Tzu, “The Art of War”
As you get older, if you are among that breed of human being onto whom God in His unfathomable reason chose to bestow the gift – or perhaps curse – of being continually motivated toward success, you look back on the catalogue of your experiences and begin to recognize patterns that, upon increasingly greater scrutiny, resolve you to a select group of indelible truths. Those truths become the mores from which the entire body of your work then emanates.
When I was young, I saw my then mostly more mature colleagues, regardless of position, as elders. That is not to say that I always respected my elders: generally, I wanted to replace them; that is basic human nature. To be sure however, that paradigm will trap a young person in a perpetual state of feeling ‘oppressed’. Not a good feeling for one so motivated to succeed.
Quite unintentionally, as I have grown and the balance of time has swung toward the other end of the scale, the majority of my peers have become younger. Regardless of age, however, I have come to see my colleagues at this point in my life increasingly as, ‘children’. That is not to say that I see them in a condescending light; nor that I wish to establish and maintain a position of authority over them. Quite the opposite. It is more that I find myself, especially when engaged in a deep and meaningful, sometimes intense conversation about business or life, looking deep into their faces to find innocence, or lacking in blame. With the blinders of judgment so removed, then, I can begin to find kernels of goodness that can be fostered and nurtured: first into chutes of promise; ultimately into strong, healthy, bountiful plants of their own, each being more fruitful to their organizations than they had been before we met.
This is how I add value to my Clients.
The farming analogy, by the way, comes from having grown up among the pastural valleys and farms of northwest Missouri. Farming is, without doubt, America’s original manufacturing process. It is as much a part of my nature as my own hand. There is no escaping those roots, hard as I may have tried when I was young. Eventually, as you get older, you stop trying to run away from who you are. You learn to value and cultivate your roots, instead.
If you see conflict or blame in a colleague with whom you ultimately need to be able to create success, try seeing them with the innocence of a child. You will be amazed at what you find you are then able to accomplish, together.