The Difference Between Providence And Leadership
Today I was talking with a colleague who helps me think through complex issues regarding my life and work. We talked about a couple of major deals that I am involved in and the right approach to make sure these opportunities have the maximum impact for mankind. They will be game changers in relation to pollution, resource recovery, and human health. Next week, I will be in NY working on putting together the management teams and resources necessary for these companies to really soar. At the same time I am trying to understand the emotional and human level of these interactions, and that is the reason I am writing this blog.
The conversation with my colleague got kind of deep, mainly because I was wondering how I can put all this energy into pulling these deals/companies/resources together in a way that will also support every person involved in a positive, purpose-driven way. I want them to be fulfilled in a way that goes beyond monetary benefits.
It is a frequent struggle for me: how do I move these projects for maximum impact without letting the “New York Money Routine” lessen the impact on the industry and the people involved? When I asked this question, my colleague said something that really caught my attention, something about the word “provision” or “provide.” What he pointed out was that what I am doing in New York is provisional. It is providing the money, the resources and the team to execute these endeavors. The problem with this is that when something is provisional, it means that you are providing for only a short period of time.
This provisional thought process is where the emotion and maximum impact can get left behind. So let me give you a real life example that we have all encountered at some time in our life (myself many times, especially in close relationships.)
Take a look at your close relationships–whether they be husband, wife, son or daughter–and ask yourself, are you just “provisional?” Meaning, are you just providing the money to go to school, for a car, a home… without the emotional support? Do you only come in for a short period of time to provide and that is as far as you take it?
For myself–because I run to the excitement of the deal, the excitement of the start-up–that provisional time period, when I am putting the people and the money together for a higher purpose, is where I focus. The question though (which was really not clear to me through this) is if there are multiple projects that are purpose-driven for maximum impact, how do I assure that I accomplish these goals by only providing the money or resources?
There is one other word that fills this in. It is one that I realized I have been somewhat afraid of in the past and it was pointed out squarely to me in my discussion with my colleague, and that word is “leadership.” You have to be willing not only to provide, but to lead.
Let’s pause here and just check in… Does this provisional thought process make sense to you? Is it clear that when you are just providing resources, you are leaving a gap. When you are not providing the emotional support, the day-to-day support that is really required, you could be leaving that company–that son or daughter in college–hanging with everything provided for but with no emotional infrastructure?
I know this for a fact in my own life. I am not good on the emotional support side. I want to be better at it, that is why I am taking the time now to get a better understanding of these situations that come along in my life all the time. So it is important to think about what is the necessary ingredient beyond providing or the provisional side of a relationship or a business or any responsibility you have in your life.
As I am getting older, I have declared that I do not want anymore CEO titles or the responsibility of leading another company or leading a family or anything else. I thought I was cruising by –just putting the people, the money and the companies together. But guess what? That leadership thing that I am running from, that responsibility that comes with anything we get involved in (yes, anything!) no matter how big or small, requires leadership.
As I reflected on this incredible insight (thanks, Matt!) I started to realize how many times and in how many different places I had chosen not to lead, not to get to involved, and how much it impacted the overall success of the business or relationship. Now, I am not saying I can lead better than anyone else. That’s not the point. It is each person’s responsibility to do more than just provide. This concept is rocking my world! How can I lead four or five really cool initiatives or businesses, as well as new personal relationships and family responsibilities?
Well, the truth is, I don’t really know. But what I do know is that just providing is not enough. There has to be more. There has to be a sense of responsibility to share the leadership beyond just providing the resources. Not sure why this is so profound to me or why I wanted to share but let’s leave it as a work in progress.
Think about the idea of providing without leading or the counter of that, which would be leading without providing. Can either be independent of each other? I think the definition of “provisional” says it all, and that in itself provides for a temporary period of time whereas leading is guidance, direction, being involved. Being involved with all the emotion, the soft stuff, that makes or breaks great ideas, great groups of people, great causes. If nothing else, I hope this makes you think about your business and family life in a different way. It sure rocked my world and will be part of all 6 meetings in New York next week.