Live on the Frontier of Your Life Experiences

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Do you boldly go where you have not gone before?

You can live and lead on the new frontier of your life experiences from wherever you are.

Be part of the world, not outside of the world.

To do so, get  out of the lab, or the ivory tower, and push the envelope by doing things with courage and audacity on the front lines.

Everyone is a leader.  You just need to exercise your power to act.

In the book, Lead with Humility: 12 Leadership Lessons from Pope Francis, Jeffrey A. Krames shares insight on how Pope Francis’s uses humility as a strength, and how you can use the same methods to be a more compassionate, authentic, and effective leader.

A Pragmatist on the Frontier

The new frontier is all around you, if you let go of the past.

Via Lead with Humility:

“Francis shows his pragmatism in many ways at the leader of the Catholic Church.  He understands and acknowledges that the world is a huge, diverse place and that the church’s SIP is many cultures’ quickly evolving definitions of the ‘new normal’– from nontraditional marriages and unions to technology’s increasing role in everyday life, and to greater emphasis on ecological issues.  And he knows that if he is going to fulfill his goal of a more open and welcoming Church, then he must break with the most severe and steadfast parts of Church doctrine by considering changes to things that would have been unfathomable under Benedict XVI or any previous pope, such as allowing  civil unions, tolerating divorce, and not judging people on their sexual orientation.”

Living in the Laboratory vs. Living on the Frontier

While things might look good on paper, or work in the lab, it’s easy to lose touch with what works in the real world.

Via Lead with Humility:

“Here, Bergoglio uses a very personal example to explain the term: ‘The frontiers are many.  Let us think of the religious sisters living in hospitals.  They live on the frontier, I am alive because of one of them.  When I went through my lung disease at the hospital, the doctor gave me penicillin and streptomycin in certain doses.  The sister who was on duty tripled my doses because she was daringly astute; she knew what to do because she was with ill people all day.  The doctor, who really was a good one, live in his laboratory.  The sister loved on the frontier and was in dialogue with it every day.’  You can’t lead from the back, Francis is saying.  You have to lead from the front, where the struggle doesn’t end just because the leader has left.  So he lives on the frontier himself.”

See the World for What It Is

Before you can change things in a meaningful way, you need to read the situation and understand the context, and really empathize with the people and the issues.

Via Lead with Humility:

“Pragmatists see the world for what it is, not how they wish it to be.  As humble as Pope Francis is, he describes himself as a ‘political animal.’ He knew that to become the 266th pontiff, he would have to understand the politics of the conclave, even though he was too humble to actually campaign for the job in any covert manner.  Likewise, Francis urges people to engage in office politics, because hi is a pragmatist and knows that these people who do not engage in the underlying culture or politics of an organization will be left behind.  Rather than avoid office politics, which albeit are frequently a waste of time–or, worse, spending your time instead wishing you live in a world without them–participate, but don’t succumb.  Use the dramas as a way to demonstrate your own leadership skills by solving problems, bringing antagonists together and turning them into teams, and creating a more collegial atmosphere instead of a poisonous one.  You may have to be ruthless and get rid of those who would root for the poison, but most people don’t like office politics and they’ll be glad to see the snakes banished, too.”

Open Up New Areas

Never stop learning.  Experiment to uncover and discover brand new opportunities for yourself and others, that you could never see before.

Via Lead with Humility:
”Pope Francis urges people to hart new paths in their field of endeavor.  Experimenting with new ideas and products or services is certainly consistent with a pragmatist’s view of the world.  That’s because the pragmatist knows that one day something that worked well for an individual or organization won’t work anymore.  Intel’s founders learned that the hard way, which is why its cofounder Andy Grove urges managers to always be experimenting with new ideas and products.  Evaluating new processes can also help your company keep up with trends.  Make sure your procedures are efficient as possible by assessing work flow and deciding whether new technologies can be implemented to make your time go further.”

Live on the Frontier

To live on the frontier, you just need to push your boundaries and challenge your own status quo.

Via Lead with Humility:

“Although frontier–or new frontier–were popular words and phrases for John F. Kennedy when he campaigned for president, Francis has a slightly different meaning for the word today.  In American parlance, he means pushing the envelope by doing courageous things on the front lines.  Don’t be afraid to push yourself beyond limits that are self-imposed or placed on you by society or convention; you might be surprised what you can accomplish if you do things Francis’s way.”

Where is the Frontier?

The frontier is all around you.   But most importantly, your new frontier starts from the inside out.

Via Lead with Humility:

“The frontier is not a place; it is more of a positive and broad-minded attitude coupled with courage and audacity.  Living on the frontier means doing different things for different people, depending in large part on what one does for a living (but certainly not restricted to a person’s career).  For members of the clergy, immersing themselves deeply in the community they serve and going out to help all members of their community is living on the frontier.  Observing and judging the problems of their flock from a distance and examining crime statistic is the opposite. “

What is the Frontier

To really know and understand an issue, you need to live and breathe it.

Via Lead with Humility:
”Here is how Francis wrote about this phenomenon: When it comes to social issues, it is one thing to have a meeting to study the problem of drugs in a slum neighborhood and quite another to go there, live there, and understand the problem from the inside and study it … One cannot speak of poverty if one does not experience poverty, with a direct connection in the places in which there is poverty.”

Find Your Frontier

Your can grow your new frontier right under your feet, from any job.

Via Lead with Humility:

“Most of us have lived on the frontier at one time or another.  Much depends on what your profession, and your life, offers you, and in turn, what decisions and life choices you make along the way.  In most cases, your frontier will not require heroic acts, such as ‘curing’ people of poverty and illness in the slums; most of us can live on the frontier even if we simply have everyday kinds of jobs.”

How To Work on the Frontier of Your Industry

Here are some pragmatic ways that you can work on the frontier of your industry.

Via Lead with Humility:

  • Go There, Live There, and Understand: If you have the ability to logistically organize your team so that you can be in close contact with them throughout the day, do so.  Check in with them on a daily or weekly basis just to know that everything is good in their world.  Be intimate with their responsibilities so that you can understand the burdens and stresses in their lives.  If you don’t know how to use the data entry software that they use, for example, spend some time with it to learn how to speak their language.  Be a leader whom they feel they can approach and who will empathize with their issues.
  • Get Out of Your Comfort Zone:  To get to the frontier, you must do things that do not come easily to you.  If you could improve your position by getting new clients, but you hate cold calling, then allocate a certain amount of time each week to do cold calling and develop a script to work from, refine as you go along, and personalize for each call.  If you feel that you don’t give feedback to your reports often enough, start scheduling weekly or monthly one-on-one meetings to give them an update.  You might not even know what some of your weaknesses are.  Ask your manager and your reports for feedback on skills that you can improve.  Both will appreciate your faith in them.
  • Help Your Team Join You on the Frontier: You have learned from Pope Francis’s example, so encourage your team to follow your example as well.  Pretend that you are, instead of the manager seeking a promotion in the preceding scenario, the vice president.  If your employee comes to you looking for an opportunity to grow, and you feel that the person is able to handle the job, allow him or her to take on the responsibility.  Don’t confine your audacity to your own actions; allow your team to take risks as well, and you can enjoy their successes together.

Wherever you are and wherever you go, you take your frontier with you.

As our world changes and evolves, do you?

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Image by U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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