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Better Together: Leadership or Luck?

Better Together: Leadership or Luck?

tED magazine’s new series of stories, “Better Together,” are completely the work of our past “30 Under 35” winners.  They came up with the topic, and then they wrote the articles. “Better Together” allows the next generation in our supply chain the opportunity to let you know how they see the industry in the future, how they see it taking shape right now, and what they would like to see happen so it remains strong and vital throughout their generation.

This article comes from Matt Taets, Regional Sales Manager at RAB Lighting.

In our daily lives we are pushed and pulled in many directions. Emails, phone calls to return, people to meet. Deadlines make the headlines of our to-do lists. We need to find time to exercise, spend quality time with our families and walk our dogs. Everyone wants our time – how do we find time to be leaders?

Leaders blend, manage and utilize time. They are opportunistic, entrepreneurial and take positive steps to be great. When others are doing the bare minimum to meet goals, leaders are taking the idea to the next level, running the extra report to prove a theory, or influencing the critic’s opinions with logic and data.

Leaders look for ways to improve a process or solve a problem for the betterment of the company and themselves.  They don’t wait for someone to ask – they take on challenging tasks and tackle complex issues that others steer away from.  

Why lead? Who benefits from this driven desire to do more? I believe everyone benefits. Every time we do a little more to help a customer solve a problem, give a little more detail about a product feature, or include the extra spec sheet to identify the perfect solution, we make life a little better and a little easier for others to navigate the clutter. The effort is appreciated and reciprocated.

I was recently talking with a colleague; he told me he teaches his college aged daughters that the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is “Extra.”  I absolutely love this expression.

Many recent college grads and longtime employees alike are stretching out their hands asking, “What can you give me? What can I get?” My advice is to reverse that thinking and say, “What can I give? What EXTRA effort can I make to set me apart from my peers? What steps can I take to become more skilled or qualified for my position and the next position when it’s available?”

Leaders are curious, ask questions, try new things and are patient for opportunity to develop. At the same time, they let their opinions be heard and volunteer for assignments and responsibility.

My college buddies call me the luckiest man alive. I once found a diamond ring in a river, a pair of lost glasses in Lake Superior and the woman of my dreams on a student exchange in Russia. Wow – so lucky right?  I take a different perspective – I believe we make our own luck. The luckiest people I know are active leaders – the people who dive into the unknown and blaze a path for themselves and others.  I found the ring in the river because I was curious of the sparkle in the water and I waded in to investigate. I found my friends glasses because I asked him which dock he jumped off the night before and I dove in to help him look. I met my wife because I volunteered for a community exchange trip — I had a desire to see and do something new.

Next time you are being pushed and pulled in many directions, I encourage you to blaze a new trail, walk through a new doorway, or look at the situation with the eyes of a child. The world is waiting for you and the only thing standing between your goals and dreams is the reflection in your bathroom mirror. We may never have all the answers, but if we have the courage to ask the questions, the solutions will fall into place.


This topic, along with many others, will be discussed during the roundtable discussions and panel session at the upcoming NAED LEAD Conference in Chicago on July 20-22. We strongly recommend you send your young, up-and-coming stars to this year’s conference. You can register by clicking here.


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