I love hearing people’s backstories. There’s always a connection between the past and the present. Time travel is possible. Just listen, and the backstory transports you.
For those in leadership roles, the backstories for many reflect very specific interactions with someone in a leadership role at some point in their lives. It might have been a simple gesture, a word of encouragement or giving you a break on an opportunity. Regardless of how small, the act in a moment of time ripples forevermore through the life of an individual.
My professional backstory includes a first manager who trusted me to grow faster than I believed I was capable. She set the cadence for my career: always keep the challenge out there just far enough to where you can barely see it and run toward it as hard and fast as you can.
She didn’t tell me that the challenge always remains out in front, pushing and pulling at the same time.
During a telephone call today with a client to discuss a spring workshop program, he shared his backstory. His work today is a direct outcome of an experience he had as a recovering corporate escapee wondering how to find his way forward as an entrepreneur. The “touch” at a local chamber training event propelled a decade of work, success, and commitment to giving back.
Negative acts ripple dangerously and destructively through people’s lives as well.
I owe the lousy leaders I’ve encountered a debt of thanks. I learned what not to do from some exceptional teachers.
Unfortunately, we cannot predict which acts or behaviors will one day become a person’s backstory. Nor can we accurately predict how our approaches will impact individuals. It might not be random, but it feels like it.
The Bottom-Line for Now:
We all have a backstory. What stories are you creating for those you touch as a leader? Remember, your behaviors echo through decades and impact countless others.