Monday, October 20, 2014

3 Life Lessons

In the past week, I have encountered three life lessons that are good for life and good for business.

The first is to make a good impression. I did this twice in flying today and in both cases what otherwise would have been a transactional interpersonal event became a pleasant interaction. The first was paying to move up from C04 to A06 on my flight. I asked politely. I engaged the employees in a discussion about the choice to move up. They commented on someone who once had an A17 boarding spot and wanted to move up. They gave me a favorable comment on how I was dressed. I wasn't in my best or newest suit. But they asked if I was going to a meeting. I told them I'd just been at a professional conference. They noted that people don't get dressed up to fly any more. My boss's advice about making an impression on people even extended to the airport. Second, when I got back to BWI, I had managed to misplace my ticket from entering the parking garage the day before. So, I went to the information desk inside upon landing and introduced the question by saying, "I know this is a stupid question to have to ask." I was neither panicked about the question nor demanding of an answer. The person appreciated it and helped immediately and directly.

The second lesson is to be careful of with whom I surround myself. This, in some ways, goes along with making an impression. Consider President Obama's choice for the Ebola czar. A political operative with no public health experience. He can manage but does he understand what he is managing. Many people have asked. It made an impression--and for most, not a good one. I think that surrounding myself with the smartest person I can attract who knows more about something than I do is a good approach. My hires represent that and we are working to create the type of organization I hope to work in. And those I inherited with whom I surround myself are people who can take what I am good at--vision, creativity, and bringing people together for process--and move it to completion.

Once I have made an impression based on my own personality and activities and the personalities and activities of those around me, I have the opportunity to think about a legacy. Sometimes this is really long-term. On the personal side, an award for sportsmanship in cross country was just given for the first time two days ago where I grew up--made from my Boston Marathon 2013 shoes. That is a great legacy. Sometimes it is just a process--I'm known for being someone who leads an interesting journey, is willing to share his journey, and who cares about others' journeys. I am trying to get a vision for the legacy that I want to leave at Johns Hopkins. It begins with first impressions. It continues with those with whom I surround myself. It requires me to complete things.

These three life lessons fit well together for personal life and for business. With a good first impression, a movement from transaction to pleasant interaction, surrounding myself with the right people, and a vision for legacy, something wonderful can be built.

1 comment: