One of the hardest things about living away from home as I get older is not getting a chance to be around my aging grandparents. I try to call them once a week on my way to work or the gym, but sometimes they are still in bed! Lazy! I’m only kidding. Believe me, anyone who is has worked as hard as they have throughout their lifetime has earned the right to sleep in.
In this particular instance I was talking to my 90-year-old grandmother, my father’s mother, the other day. My Gram has lived in her house by herself for the last ten years since my grandfather passed. She is a spark plug! She is still very active. She exercises all the time, is heavily involved in her church, and even does yard work in her garden. You get the point. She is one of my heroes. Actually, she is as close to a saint as a living person could be. I love my Gram very much. Over the years she has taught me many things. Believe it or not, this little old lady, lucky to be five feet tall, has taught me just about everything I know about toughness and sacrifice.
During a recent conversation, my Gram was telling me how she was cleaning out old things and getting her “stuff” in order. She told me she found this old basket of pictures that she’d saved of places she’d wanted to visit in her lifetime. The amazing thing to me is that she actually took the time to cut out pictures and save magazine clippings. Be it the Grand Canyon or the Eiffel Tower, my Gram filled a basket with pictures as a reminder that she’d wanted to eventually make it to see these places with her own eyes. It was once a goal of hers to witness these places in-person.
After we hung up, I started to think. I can’t believe that my Gram took the time to cut out all of those pictures and never got to visit those places. I started to feel bad for her. I immediately wanted to buy ten plane tickets for her, tell her I took a month off of work, and “Let’s go!” I obviously can’t do that. My wife and kids wouldn’t be too happy about it.
I continued to ponder our discussion and found myself puzzled by my Gram’s philosophy. I recalled asking her why she never took any trips to see any of these places. Her response: “Life got in the way.” As a parent, I understand that it is our responsibility to make certain sacrifices for our children and family. It is no longer about “me”; it is about “we.” We can’t, however, lose focus of our goals or simply push them to the side.
Everyday at my job, I speak to executives that say people are their most important asset, yet they are not matching their actions with their words. More often that not, it’s not because of poor intentions. It’s simply a lack of understanding of how to get there.
It’s really easy to push development to the side and say “We’ll get to it later.” Or mask it in a program that has some form of technology behind it and say it is “New Age.” Or, my personal favorite, assume the “more with less” strategy, which is extremely contradictory because if you are implementing this strategy, you will actually be asking your people to do more and improper (or no) development will only lead to more problems. My point is: The more times you push things to the side it becomes habitual. It becomes easy to say, “I’ll get to that later.”
As current owner, leader, or manager, nothing is more important that the development of your team. These people directly affect every aspect of your business. Nothing else is that important! It’s easy to lack a sense of urgency. We think we have all the time in the world and prioritize according to our arrogant nature. The truth of the matter is that you can literally blink and, in my Gram’s case, be ninety-years-old and have a box full of places you never got a chance to see.
Your people are the most important part of your team. There is no skinny pill, computer program, quote, book, or two-day seminar that is going to develop them. It’s a commitment and it takes work. If you are a leader now don’t wait to start developing your team!