Stories are such a great way of making a point. Here is an embarrassing, painful, and bloody story about myself! While this story is about my chef’s knife, I intend to relate it to leadership and communication skills. Sharpening skills is a play-on-words, you’ll see.
Comfortable in the kitchen for many years, I’ve learned my most important and cherished tool is my chef’s knife. My knife was expensive when I bought it. Through the years, the label has worn away and the handle scarred from a close encounter with the stove. I maintained it well and, from my perspective, thought it was highly effective.
Many of us have tools we believe are effective simply because they are familiar.
Those tools also include our leadership and communication skills.
Last summer, I hosted a gourmet chef at my house. As he used my chef’s knife, I could feel his frustration from across the room. He exclaimed, “Karen, this knife is so dull it’s dangerous.”
The feedback totally surprised me because I thought my knife was great!
(How I’ve always communicated and led may be comfortable for me, who will tell me I could do better?)
The chef got my attention. I decided to get that knife sharpened!
Even after having the knife sharpened three times, the old blade edge dulled each time quickly.
This old knife needed replacing.
(Sometimes it’s time to make a significant change, not minor tweaks)
I decided to solve the problem by purchasing a new knife.
Unfortunately, I underestimated the difference in sharpness, and the result was bloody and painful. I was handicapped for Thanksgiving, down two fingers on my dominant hand.
(Acquiring new tools also requires training and practice.)
At this point, I had two options. I could go back to my old knife or commit the time to cultivate skills with my new one.
Are you only sharpening leadership and communication skills that would be better replaced?
Don’t sharpen! Transform!