I’m all about building things. I’ve discovered that is what makes me tick: watching something emerge out of nothing. It’s great. So far, it’s been about building software, building apps, woodworking, that kind of thing. But somehow, i’ve found myself building an entirely new thing.
Somehow now i’m faced with the task of building not just physical things (woodworking), nor abstract things (software), but people. It came as a realisation recently while chatting with my pastor, that what i spend most of my energy and increasing amounts of my time these days is: building people.
Building a person is all about taking them where they need to go. Finding their goal, passion, calling, whatever it is – and poking them, cajoling them, convincing them, pushing them, clearing away the cobwebs from their internal drive, until they get there.
So i’ve come up with a plan to do this. Its a basic plan for now, and i’m sure i’ll revisit it and improve on it as the years go by. Lets call it: ‘leadership v0.1’ for now:
This is all about connecting with the person. There’s no point doing anything with them if they don’t trust you, or don’t even like you. You have to build that bridge. To build the bridge, do whatever it takes to care about that person’s life. It’ll show, they’ll notice, and you’ll connect.
Then you need to make yourself available. You must be in regular contact. Remember: ‘He who spends the most time, wins.’. If your schedule is too busy for people, take a chainsaw to it. People are simply more important.
Everyone has a dream, a vision, a calling. Some people know what it is, and just need to be comfortable with you before they will share it. Others have never been given permission to dream. For those, you need to open their eyes to the possibilities that the world has for their life. Prod, poke, make them dream. Find out what their calling is. Not what you think they should do with their life, but what they truly are here for.
Everyone has something, as vague as it may be. Some people know exactly what it is, and some have a vague dream that will clear as they step into it. But, like a miner pans for gold, sift their thoughts until you find it. And once you’ve found it, you must encourage them to desire the dream.
Are you a salesman? Well, this is quite possibly the hardest sales job you’ll ever have: to convince someone that their dream lies in the realm of possibility. It is contagious: If you believe in someone, they will catch that belief eventually. It helps immensely to know that someone else believes in you. And so, you must be that person to them.
Show them examples of others who have achieved. Be an example of someone who is living out their dreams. Break down the dream into concrete, achievable steps. Persuade them that they deserve to achieve. Build a belief system into them that they are the type of person that can do great things. Many fear to hope, because of the disappointment of failure. Convince them to take the risk of hoping their dreams will come true.
Usually, fear is what holds people back from trying something new. What if i don’t have what it takes? I’ll surely crash and burn. I’m scared of the pain of failure. What if i try the wrong thing? As grown ups, we no longer fear the monster in the closet. Most have exchanged the closet monster for the failure monster.
These fears have to be exposed for what they are: the resistance. Read ‘Do the work’ by Pressfield. Give them the freedom to fail. Once they know that they’re allowed to fail a few times before they start succeeding, they’ll be more inclined to jump in and have a go. Put courage into them so that the sting of failure will not take them out.
Most people don’t know where to start. But they don’t realise that direction comes after action. The best way to convince them of this fact is to hold their hands for the first few steps, until direction kicks in. Do not stress about ‘which direction to take’ at this stage. What they’re doing isn’t as important as, simply: doing. Try many things, until one bears fruit. Teach them to take initiative to do new things related to their sphere.
The main point of this step is to build their confidence, and further convince them that they do have what it takes, that walking in the direction of the goal is possible, and that their fears are smaller than imagined. Also, this is where the nuts and bolts of showing them the ropes comes into play. But, like my daughter, once you teach them how to walk, they’ll figure out on their own how to run. So learn when to take the training wheels off.
Excitement is a fading thing. The start of any great goal is full of it, but the first setback will halve it. The period of drudgery, as we do the mundane necessities involved will also take its toll. Once the excitement bank hits zero, they will need their inside drive to push them onwards. It is your job to fuel their inside drive. Keep their eyes on the goal, encourage them, celebrate the small wins, and show them how far they’ve come. Pick them up when they stumble.
People need people. We’re not built to make it alone, we need allies to spur us on to achieve our goals. Be that ally. Spur them on.
Which brings me to my final thought. Who’s building me? If it is my job to bring out people’s potential, who will do the same to me?
I struggled with this, until i had a realisation: life isn’t a hierarchy, it’s about each other. Instead of waiting for someone ‘higher up’ to mentor me, i found a group of like minded friends and said: lets build/spur on/encourage each other. So rather than entrusting my future to a single mentor, i now have half a dozen of them. Together, success is inevitable.
Thanks for reading! And if you want to get in touch, I'd love to hear from you: chris.hulbert at gmail.
(Comp Sci, Hons - UTS)
iOS Developer in Sydney.
I have worked at places such as Google, News Corp, Fox Sports, NineMSN, FetchTV, Woolworths, and Westpac, among others. If you're looking for a good iOS developer, drop me a line!