I might date myself to 80’s Sugarhill Gang but this was in my head recently when someone described to me being in a meeting and couldn’t wait to leave…
Have you ever went over a friend’s house to eat
and the food just ain’t no good?
I mean the macaroni’s soggy, the peas all mushed
and the chicken tastes like wood
So you try to play it off like you think you can
by sayin’ that you’re full
And then your friend says: “Momma, he’s just being polite
He ain’t finished – uh uh, that’s bull!”
So your heart starts pumpin’ and you think of a lie
and you say that you already ate
And your friend says: “Man – there’s plenty of food!”
so you pile some more on your plate
While the stinky foods steamin’, your mind starts to dreamin’
of the moment that it’s time to leave
I’ve had numerous conversations with people who loathe the lengthy meeting stew in which every possible topic in granularity is reviewed. Next time you are in a meeting eating food you don’t like – and obviously no one else does either – ask the question, “Why are we eating this?” Or more poignantly, “Where are we going, and why?” That is to say: Why should we care about what we are doing and for what purpose? Demand direction, vision, mission and purpose. It’s not an easy question, and will require your leadership to step up to clearly articulate what change we intend to affect. Sure, this isn’t appropriate when everyone knows the score and the meeting is intentionally tactical to get things done. But I had a conversation recently in which someone confided they wondered the value of their contribution since the bus they were on didn’t seem to have any clear destination.
Change starts with the doers, the creators – those with intention and direction, if not fully-formed concrete goals. Recognize the value and contribution we all create and ask these important questions. Asking these questions is to ask your leaders to reach farther, communicate more clearly, and build the necessary community and environment for you to feel enabled, empowered and part of something bigger than the piece of the equation you are working on.
Here is a snippet of Erik Weihenmayer describing leadership as only he can.