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Things don’t just happen; they happen just...!

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By this time in our developing relationship, I trust you have some interest and ambition to develop your leadership skills. Today, we are going to look at a principle that is all too often taken for granted.

Many years ago, I was at a conference in Philadelphia. During one of the sessions, a panelist described a patient as being like a cup and our counselling of the patient as being like adding water to the cup. He pointed out the folly in thinking that just because we give the patient a certain amount of counselling (water), the patient will take the medication correctly and everything will go well. He went on to demonstrate this by pouring water from a pitcher on the table into a cup and allowing it to overflow –signifying that we drown patients in information, but don’t help them succeed with their therapy.

Herein lies our principle for today. Things don’t just happen; things happen just. This is the principle of intentionality. We must be intentional with the people we lead because things don’t just happen. 

How I wish it would be as easy as simply telling someone to do something at some time to get the desired result. Unfortunately, that is often not the case. You must intentionally return and inspect the progress to ensure that you end up where you want to be.

A couple of weeks ago, we looked at the idea of leading people from where they are to a new place – a better place – and how this new, better place is always uphill. 

Wouldn’t it be grand if you could simply tell someone something and it would be done?  While that could be the case in some situations, I believe you and I would quickly agree that there will be too many times where we don't achieve the desired result.

Let me share with you this example from everyday life. My wife and I have three kids and we would like to see them become functional adults at some point in their lives.  This has not been easy – perhaps those of you with teenagers can see where this is going….

We can give instructions such as “make your bed” and have the wild and unreasonable expectation that these kids will deliver such a result. The reality is this has often ended in disappointment. Why? Because things don’t just happen, they happen just. If my wife and I have not been intentional about showing our kids how to properly make a bed, should we be surprised, let alone disappointed, when the bed is not made correctly? 

This is a foundational part of leadership. You must be intentional with the people you lead. When we are not intentional, frustration can creep in and undermine our leadership. There are many strategies for being intentional with the people you lead; I will leave some of those for future blogs. In the meantime, I challenge you to take just a handful of minutes to consider some of the areas where you find yourself frustrated and then take the next step to reflect on how you can intentionally help that person be more successful with that goal. Whether it's helping a child make a bed or helping a patient take his medication correctly, intentionality is the key to starting to lead others to success.

Until next time -

Jesse McCullough, PharmD

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