Former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt is credited with the statement, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; and small minds discuss people.”
Interesting thought, isn’t it? As I think about this statement, I am challenged personally by its implications. On a given day, what is the focus of my conversations?
As a leader, we must live in all three categories: ideas, events and people. But real question is how do we approach each of them?
Let’s begin with People. It is no secret that people are our most important resource. Nothing is accomplished without the synergy, expertise and experience the individual members of our team bring to the table. For the people in my circle of influence, am I intentionally talking with them for their benefit? Am I actively searching for ways to highlight their strengths and shore up the skill gaps? And most importantly, are they a part of those conversations?
Or do I fall into the trap of the small mind? How often are my conversations simply about others – you know, the “G” word, gossip. In the workplace, we disguise the conversation as talking about “their development”. And for those in the ministry/service arena, we call it a “prayer request.” I think that’s point Mrs. Roosevelt was making in her statement so many years ago.
Events. They are the activities of our business and may take many forms – projects, meetings, and actual events. They are the functions of our business. So, what are the traps of focusing on events?
Do we have a clear purpose for the events we pursue? Do we plan with intentionality or do we fall into the routine of “we’ve always done it this way”. Yes, events are critical to the success of our business – but only those events that are tied to reaching our strategic goals.
Mrs. Roosevelt told us great minds discuss ideas. And as a leader, there is great truth in her statement.
How much time do we spend creating our future? It starts with a thought and as we discuss our thoughts, they become ideas that can transform our business.
Leaders dream and devote energy to the “what if”. And when the possible future starts to take shape, we invest in the people and plan the events that can take us there. Without the ideas, our events have little meaning. And worse yet, we don’t have a vision to share with our team.
Ms. Roosevelt challenges me as a leader. She invites me to stop and think about my conversations. Is she inviting you to do the same?