Monday, July 30, 2012

Doing homework with my Dad

What book, poem, film, speech, painting, quote, story, or person (or whatever) continues to inspire your leadership?

My father and him helping me with my school homework.

What is it about this piece that inspires you and helps sustain you as a leader? 

Whenever I had a difficult homework question I remember asking my father for help. My father would help me, but the problem was that he wouldn’t give me the answer or even the short route to finding the answer. Instead, he would start at the very beginning and explain the whole problem (sometimes even the whole principles behind the subject area) and all the layers that I had to understand in order to solve the problem and do my homework. Now to a 13 year old, this was sometimes excruciatingly long-winded and I would beg him to just give me the answer so that I could get on with the rest of my homework. And he always suggested that it was better that I learned and saw the whole problem instead and that the time would be worth it.

Whenever I am working with others or leading a team and people come to me with a problem or a puzzle, I remember my father and his patience at explaining the whole picture and allowing me to come up with the solution. Sure it take much longer and some days I wish I could just give someone the answer…but I want an empowered team of people who know that they can come to me for information and knowledge but that I expect and hope that they come up with the solutions.

One time my mum even took a photo of us sitting at our dinning room table with my books spread across the whole table and discussing the latest homework question. This is the image I see in my mind every time I start to discuss the latest issue with a colleague and hope that I can be as patient and understanding as my father was with me.

I suppose he was doing what the famous saying talks about “give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach him to fish and he eats for a life-time”, but to me it is still “doing homework with my dad”.

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