The Art of Adapting: Staying Fresh in Your Leadership

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In leadership, there’s nothing quite like proven, reliable experience. But if you’re not careful, all that experience can slide into nothing more than tired staleness.

Effective leaders keep their leadership fresh and positive by developing a way of looking at the world that’s renewing, and hopeful. It’s a counter-intuitive, almost contradictory perspective that prevents reliable experience from becoming tired and obsolete.

It’s the ability to see the world through ‘young eyes’.

Years ago a member of a board on which I served would close our meetings with a prayer that always included the line, “And Lord, help us as leaders to always see the world through young eyes.”

This leader was a man in his late ’70’s.

Such a viewpoint sees the world as having endless possibilities. It is a positive perspective, full of energy and a sense of hope. And when leaders develop such a perspective, it’s a sure-fire way to ensure that all of one’s years of experience doesn’t descend into predictable patterns which can render a leader stale and even obsolete.

How can you view the world through young eyes? Here are three proven ways to keep your leadership fresh and powerful:

1.   Develop an exuberant optimism

Along with wisdom and perspective, longevity in leadership can also sometimes bring with it a certain jaded cynicism.

But when you see the world through young eyes you continue to see possibilities in any situation. Always maintain your optimism.

2.   Develop endless curiosity

Years of experience can have the unfortunate side effect of causing a leader to view certain outcomes as inevitable.

But choosing to see the world through young eyes creates within you an insatiable curiosity to understand why things are the way they are, and then a refusal to believe things have to stay that way.

3.   Develop stubborn resiliency

Spending years in the trenches of leadership can yield invaluable perspective and understanding.

But with young eyes you can add to this an uncanny ability to rebound from failed attempts.

The paradox is that the more experience you attain in your leadership, the more discipline may be required to maintain this youthful outlook.

So start each day by declaring the choice to view the world today through young eyes. Because if you do, you really can prevent “wise and experienced” from turning into simply “old and tired.”

the author

Scott Cochrane

Lifelong learner, practitioner and coach of leadership, across more than 50 countries. Follower of Jesus, husband of Nora, grateful parent and grandparent.

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