As a leadership coach, the conversations I have with professionals aren’t often strictly work related, because the lines between our personal and professional lives aren’t always as bold as we might choose to believe.
After all, leadership, like life, comes down to understanding ourselves and others. So it seems appropriate that a leadership blog should occasionally blur those lines as well, drawing professional insights from real-life lessons, and vice versa.
I grew up with all sisters.
Then, I married a girl.
Shortly thereafter, my wife and I were blessed with children of our own. All daughters. 3 of them.
And with all these girls everywhere my whole life long, I was gradually and subtly altered.
I used to know all the car models, which teams made up which leagues, the date of the Super Bowl, and how to finish a beer in one slug. Putting together a coordinated outfit simply meant getting a shirt on top and pants on the bottom. Forget all this stuff about matching.
Back then, food was much simpler. It was functional. No well-presented plates, gourmet seasonings, or vegetables requiring modifiers like “heirloom” or “pattypan”. Not a chance. Eating simply counteracted hunger. If I liked something (enter beans and franks), I could eat it for each of the 6 daily feedings. I wouldn’t even bother to heat it up.
But over the years, all of this faded away. Now, I know that fabric has a bias. I can describe A-line skirts and boat-neck collars (but far be it from me to pick up on whether or not they’re in style.) I understand what it means to sauté something (although I don’t have the slightest clue how to do it myself). And I always put the toilet seat down (a sure sign that you’ve departed from the realm of your fellow guys).
When I was a guy, I was a legs man. Legs were pretty. I didn’t know why; they just were. Back then, I never knew that girls have 11 separate specifications for judging leg defects, from thigh width to ankle taper to knee angle. I’m glad I didn’t know that then.
Then came the biggest transition. When I was a teenager, my best friends were guys. I liked them. But when my daughters became teenagers, I found that this opinion had changed completely. Teenage boys became the enemy, like an insect infestation you can’t beat.
And yet again, in my current stage of life, I’m experiencing God’s sense of humor: He has given us grandsons—a bunch of them. And as they become teenagers, I still like them. And I like my sons-in-law—all 3 of them guys. See? You can still change when you’re old.
So, I transitioned out of youthful guyness and into a feminine-focused training program. And now, the masculine balance has re-entered my life. Is there a lesson in my journey? If so, it’s this:
You’ll have a richer perspective if you stay exposed to people very different from yourself.
If you’re running your company without women at the top, you’re sub-optimizing your results.
If your team is homogeneous, your performance will languish.
If your wife or husband is not your favorite coach, you’re ignoring an incredible resource.