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October, 2008
Do you Know your Limitations?
If you do, then you are on your way to becoming a better leader.
 
I have been notorious for engaging in type A behavior for much of my life.  
 
What this looks like is that I overbook and overstretch myself.  I say yes far too often and attempt to do the juggling act where the term "multi-tasking" is an understatement. If you can relate to this one bit, then you know the feeling of self-satisfaction that comes along with this behavior. 
 
You know that feeling of superiority when you think you've conquered the impossible that mere mortals could never pull off.  It happened just the other day when I was engaging in a phone conversation while checking my email and searching for a piece of paper to write on...all while speeding down Interstate 10.  OOOH that adrenaline rush! 
 
Type A behavior assumes that you can control everything and that you have no limitations.  Wrong! 

What I have come to realize about this behavior is that the only person that seems to be the most pleased with this performance, time and time again, is me!  
 
The truth is that if you have been around people engaging in multi-tasking-on-steroids behavior, it is not only distracting, it is downright annoying and it doesn't foster connection.  In fact, this kind of behavior repels others.  This behavior doesn't allow for any space and time to exist between people and without this, we can't build meaningful relationships and connections.
 
Leadership is all about connecting.  So if you are too worried about getting through the TO DO list and trying to control everything, you may be multi-tasking your way out of your ability to lead others
.  
 
I would like to say that I am a recovered Type A, but the truth is that I am still recovering.  It takes time to catch your behavior and to build awareness around slowing down to tackle one thing at one time, especially when you are interacting with another person.  
 
We live in a society that is impulsive and filled with the need for immediate gratification. With a computer mouse click or two, you can have a new product at your doorstep tomorrow.  We live in an optimistic culture where we believe that anything is possible and we believe that we also can manifest anything. Our Type A behavior is directly related to the belief that if you want it, you must do it. You must control it in order to get it, whatever "it" is. 

It is no wonder that there is so much depression and feelings of lack of self-worth when we seemingly lose control and not get what we were working towards. Think about the emotional impact this current financial market crisis is having.  Think about the impact when someone loses their job.  Or the impact that a major change in strategic direction at your company has on your sense of control?
 
There are many reminders in life to tell us that we aren't in control.  There are many humbling reminders that not all things can be pointed to and clicked into your shopping cart, even though e-harmony might suggest it. 

Leadership is a humbling thing.  Effective leaders are the ones who finally wake up one day and realize that they control nothing!  
 
They focus on the interactions with others with connection and meaning.  They build relationships with trust and enable others to act on their behalf with integrity.  They are mindful of these Type A behaviors, knowing that they are only self-serving and self-gratifying.  They know their limitations and they accept that they can't control it all.

This is the kind of leader I am working towards becoming.  If you are on the same journey, start by:

1.  Redefining what it means to create opportunities for yourself.
2,  Recognizing that going at it alone is no longer an option.
3.  Realizing that getting things done is less important than building connections.
4.  Understanding that no time is as important as now, with the person in front of you.
5.  Learning that forcing things forward has a way of swinging back and knocking you off track. 
 
           
Laura Lopez is a performance strategist, leadership specialist and branding expert with more than 20 years of corporate leadership experience. Most recently, Laura Lopez was a vice president with The Coca-Cola Company. Laura's book, The Connected and Committed Leader, is available via her Web site at http://www.laura-lopez.com/shop.htm, at your local bookstore or on www.Amazon.com. As the owner of her own business, Laura helps companies and business associations achieve more sustainable business results through the power of leveraging diverse talent with effective leadership and branding. She is available for speeches, workshops and customized programs. Laura can be contacted via her Web site at: http://www.laura-lopez.com.  
 

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All the best,
 
Laura Lopez
 
Laura Lopez & Company
www.Laura-Lopez.com
(713) 864-4633
toll free outside of Texas 1-800-861-4633