Success. It’s often defined as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose”.
Deciding what to aim at is a deeply personal experience.
Stephen R. Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People wrote:
“If you carefully consider what you want to be said of you in the funeral experience, you will find your definition of success.”
Success isn’t found just in your own personal achievements; it’s also found in the achievement of others. In fact, helping others succeed may be the greatest achievement of all.
Psychologist Abraham Maslow, in his original model of the Hierarchy of Needs, placed Self-Actualization (achieving one’s own potential) at the top of the pyramid. However, toward the end of his life, Maslow revised his model and put Transcendence (helping others to reach self-actualization) at the top of the hierarchy.
There’s no accident that we refer to building organizational health and long-term sustainability as creating a succession plan. In order to thrive (succeed), you need to plan for who comes next (succeed).
Great leaders are in the business of creating new leaders.
Newly emerging leaders aren’t fully hatched overnight: sometimes they’re years in the making. It’s important that the “old-timers” witness their progress and celebrate the milestones of accomplishment along the way.
I had such a milestone moment this past weekend.
On Saturday, my eleven year old son, Alexander, successfully mowed the lawn for the first time.
I say successfully, because he’s been out in the backyard, trying since he was three. (That’s him in the picture above in May of 2006.)
Here he was on Saturday:
If you’re a non-mowing person, you should know gas-powered push lawn mowers are not the easiest things to move around. They’re heavy, unwieldy, and are prone to conking out for no reason. The pull starter takes some serious yanking to get the machine working.
It wasn’t easy for Alexander at the start. Just cutting the grass in a straight line was a challenge. But he got there. And did the whole yard. Beautifully.
Seeing him working on his own in the sunny backyard felt surreal. It was hard to digest the fact that the lawn was being mowed and I wasn’t the one doing it.
Then, I remembered the words of a mentor from many years ago: the goal of a good leader is to become superfluous.
I’m no longer needed to mow the lawn.
It’s the end of an era.
And the beginning of a new one.
What milestones have you witnessed as emerging leaders around you have developed? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.