The molding of a leader parallels to the process of making pottery. I am far from artistic, but do understand and can appreciate that a piece of pottery doesn’t just end up that way. It starts off in its raw form as a block of clay, placed on a spinning wheel, where it is shaped and molded.
In this week’s post, we look at the three correlations between making pottery and the molding of a leader:
Time and Effort
Pottery requires time. It is a process, one that does not happen quickly. The shaping and molding of the clay can take hours, even days of effort to arrive at the final product. The time and effort invested, is reflected in the quality of that final product.
Leadership is a craft, a Commitment Towards Growth, one that requires time. It too, is a process that does not happen quickly. It can take years, even decades to perfect our craft. The greatest leaders in the world didn’t arrive overnight. It requires time and effort in working towards our final work of art.
Experience and Failure
My resume of making pottery is limited. Short of some work in elementary school art class, my experience falls way short of the necessary requirements to be considered an artist.
I do know that it requires great experience to produce great works of art. Experience comes with its mishaps and missteps. I am quite certain that if you were to ask any artist behind a great piece of pottery, they would tell us that there were even more projects that didn’t work out so well. They failed, but chalked it up as experience, and became better for it.
In leadership, experience can be our greatest teacher. The lessons learned don’t always come easy. Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Here is a guarantee, we will fail as leaders. Anyone who pursues to be a great leader will have a mishap or make a misstep. The beauty of each and every experience is it places us one step closer to being the person that people want to follow, the work of art we desire to be.
If I want to get better at making pottery, it would be wise of me to find an artist more familiar with the process to be my coach. People who are further ahead than us have tremendous value. They can significantly expedite one’s growth as an artist.
If we want to grow faster as leaders, we need to seek the counsel of those further ahead of us in the process. We just talked about the benefits of our own experiences and failures. I have always been a big believer that wisdom is a culmination of our experiences. We can gain wisdom one of two ways, through our own experiences or someone else’s. Guess which one hurts less?
All leaders need coaches and not the type with whistles hanging around their necks. We need those people in our lives that pour into us, connect with us, and invest in us. Whether it is over a phone call on the way home from the office or over a cup of coffee, find these people and place them in our worlds. They will get us to the work of art we desire to be, much faster.
All of us are at various leadership stages of being molded. Maybe we are the raw block of clay, maybe we are starting to be shaped, or maybe we have had to be worked over and over to finally get where we are. Whatever stage we are at, we still can be perfected.
The greatest leaders I know are masters of their craft. Mastering a craft has a perceived element of finality to it. Here is the deal…masters of crafts are NEVER finished. They always desire to be shaped and molded into something better.
Artwork is not intended for the artist, it is intended for others. The same goes for leadership. The closer we get to that perfected form, the more others will benefit. The molding of a leader is a worthy process to better others.