Go to the beach or for a hike? Participate in a family BBQ?
Remember what happened around Labor Day when you were in your 20s? That’s right. You moved into your very own apartment for the first time. How exciting!
When I helped my son move into his first apartment (with his roommates) it brought back memories of my own first move and what I learned in college. It was a time where there were few worries in the world, but reality started to sink in.
Here are the lessons I saw play out while helping my son, ones worth remembering at any age, and particularly as a leader:
1) Go with the Flow
Move-out day is the 31st, but move-in day is not until the 1st. What to do? Pitch a tent on the roof. I had to laugh when I heard this story. Plans don’t always fit together seamlessly, so you need to improvise. And improvisation means you have to go with the flow. There is always a solution.
2) Nothing is Forever
Moving into an apartment off the college campus means this is just a temporary solution. You live there only until you graduate or shortly thereafter and then you move on. You know going in that it’s not forever. Nothing in life is forever either. Change is inevitable.
3) Things Always Cost More Than You Think
You order Comcast to set up the internet, which these days is as essential as college books were during our times. Of course they offer you a bundle with TV service and who doesn’t want to watch the Super Bowl or the playoffs? So you decide to go with the bundle. You are quoted a price and you budget for it. Except, when you check out your first bill, there is an additional set-up charge no one ever talked about. But you are not about to undo everything for this little bit of extra.
The next time you finalize a budget or you listen to the budget forecast from one of your employees, remember that they are putting down the number as best as they can. But things always cost more than you think. Leaders need to remember to include a cushion for contingencies.
4) The Little Things Add Up
Labor Day weekend at IKEA. A big shout out to its founder. What did we ever do before that store? A college student’s savior, for sure. Hopefully, you are going in with a clear budget for all the essential items in mind. But there is all this little stuff that would make life so much more convenient or comfortable — the curtains, the extra chair to sit on, the mattress cover, the toilet bowl brush (!), etc.
All those nice-to-have items make life easier, but are they necessary? That’s in the eye of the beholder. Every purchasing decision made in your company also has to pass this test. The decision is based on priorities and any guidance you can give your employees to decide what is necessary vs. a want will ease the pain.
5) There Are Deals to Be Made
Ok, moving is a pain and getting furniture is expensive. But others are trying to lighten their burden and give you good deals on what they don’t need anymore.
What can you get for free, or at a reduced cost? Are you assuming a certain value? Why not ask for a reduction, just in case? And don’t be attached. If it doesn’t work, at least you’ve asked.
6) Sharing the Responsibility Eases the Burden
One of the roommates drives up with a mattress. A text message solicits the help of three other roommates to carry the mattress to the fourth floor. Another one just finished a grocery run. Guess what? Everyone comes down to unload the car and help carry bags up.
What can you get help with that you haven’t even considered? Who can lighten your burden and help carry stuff to the next level? Who have you forgotten to ask? And what have you assumed you need to do yourself?
7) Leaders Don’t Have to Please Everyone
Even in a shared roommate situation, not everyone is equal. Someone needs to be in charge of the security deposit. Someone needs to help straighten out the budget. Someone needs to sign contracts with Comcast and be responsible.
Whoever that person is needs to make the best decision for the whole group. Not for himself, but what’s best for the group. And no, not everyone will be happy, but that’s life. Leadership is not about pleasing everyone.
8) You Will Have To Do It Again – Most Likely
Moving into a college apartment is a first step into independence. And you will have to do this step again and again.
This applies to everything — raising funds for your company, hiring people, firing people, growing your business, learning new ways to do things. And lessons along the way are repeated until they are learned. There are no mistakes. There is no failure. Just lessons, over and over again.
9) Have Fun!
Last but not least, these guys were having fun. The TV and the music were set up first. And when it was time for an ice cream break, there was no question. It’s not worthwhile if it’s not fun. Of course there are things that aren’t really fun, but shifting the mindset to making it a puzzle to figure out will put an element of fun into everything. Even cleaning toilets!
Remember those times? Probably not as leadership lessons, but they’re there nonetheless.
Here are other leadership lessons to improve your leadership qualities: