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Putting Others in the Frame

InTouch - Newsletter - #50

Welcome to the fiftieth edition of "In-Touch". As always, I would love to continue the conversation so please let me know by sending me an email.

Story of the Week: Putting Others in the Frame

An out-of-the-blue question about parenthood on Farah Shamma’s “Hotel Talk” podcast has changed some of my ideas on management and leadership.

“How did becoming a father change you?” Farah asked.

My reflex answer would have been, “It made me a little bit less selfish.” Before having children, I had often heard others say this but never truly understood it. Once I had become a father, and responsible for another person, I not only understood what they had meant but felt it deeply myself. Instinctively knew that I would no longer put my own needs and desires first.

There is an exercise that I conduct in many of my leadership seminars. Before a coffee break, I take a selfie with all the participants behind me in a U-formation. Once the seminar reconvenes, I pass the phone around the room for everyone to take a look. I then ask the participants to raise their hand if, on being given the photograph, they looked at their own face first. Almost always, 95% of them will raise a hand.

Why is this? On the one hand, it’s normal that we want to see how we appear to others but it could be argued that, by focusing more on ourselves, we are restricting our view of the environment, diverting our attention inwards and away from others. Parenthood shows us how to put others in the frame too and I have no problem with admitting that, in my case, the biggest event that turned my attention away from myself was having children. Suddenly, in addition to my wife, Christine, there was another face in my family picture frame (and soon two more would be added!) and I had a responsibility to take care of them all.

In answer to my friend Farah’s question, my actual reply was: “It expanded my view.”

Expanding your view is as important in the professional arena as it is in your personal life. As a manager and a leader, your employees are an integral part of the frame. No man or woman is an island and success tends to be a team sport. So, take time to notice the value that those around you can contribute. It may be natural to look at yourself first in a group photo but try to resist the urge to focus only on yourself too often.

Words of Wisdom

On finding happiness

“Caring about the happiness of others is how we find our own.”

Plato

A Question to Ponder, dear friend.

“How wide is your 'picture frame' and what can you do to expand it?”