Tanveer Naseer

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

What My Kids Taught Me About Inspiration and Execution

The sand castle city my daughters built on the beach at the summer cottage

Growing up, the month of August was always a bittersweet time of the year. On the one hand, it signalled that the end of summer was fast approaching and with it, the return to the school routine of homework and earlier bedtimes. At the same time, though, August also seemed to be the month where the summer break began to drag as all the activities we’d planned to do were done and there seemed to be nothing left to do.

Perhaps that’s why the way my daughters spent their summer vacation this year stood out in my mind so much – there was probably only one day where they sat deflated on the couch, bemoaning how they were bored because there was nothing to do.

Now this wasn’t because we had every day of their summer break planned and filled with activities to keep them busy. As a matter of fact, just a few days ago my girls pointed out to me how we didn’t get to do some of the activities I had suggested as possible summer activities way back in June before the school year ended.

Granted, the weather we had this summer was exceptional, providing us with the kind of summer-like conditions we haven’t seen in the past few years. Faced with sunny skies and warm temperatures, it’s not hard to see why they were inspired and motivated to soak up as much as they could of their summer break.

And yet, even when we had to endure heat waves or days of what seemed like endless rain, my girls never seemed to run out of things they could do to enjoy the break from their school-time routine. While my wife and I would delay our plans because the weather didn’t seem ideal, our kids simply shifted their plans, opting to do something else while waiting for better conditions to return.

Watching the way they responded to such weather changes, I came to an interesting realization – they weren’t just inspired by the weather; they did stuff because of the weather.

Just as a warm yellow sun set against a clear blue sky can inspire and motivate us to go out and make the most of our day, leaders also have their own source of inspiration and motivation to tackle some of the challenges they inevitably face in their role within the organization. One only need look at the numerous books detailing the road to success various organizations and their leaders have taken over the last few years, not to mention the continued popularity of adorning various inspirational quotes around the office.

Of course, just like a beautiful summer day, it’s easy to be inspired by the success stories we hear about in other organizations or the touching words of those who’ve overcome various challenges or obstacles. But what about when it’s cloudy or when dark skies are present? Are we as inspired to roll up our sleeves and press ahead? Or are we choosing instead to delay our plans in the hopes that those inspiring sunny skies might soon return? One only need look at the state of today’s workplaces to know the answer to that question.

One truth we should reconcile ourselves with is the reality that it was never the intention of those behind the success stories we all love to discuss and dissect to create a model for the rest of us to follow. Rather, they simply were driven to fulfill the purpose behind why their organization or teams were created. What made them stand out as exemplary models of organizational success was their resolve to fulfill that purpose regardless of what conditions they faced or what challenges stood in their way.

In many ways, their approach was similar to how my daughters approached their summer break – they weren’t simply inspired by the talent found within their organizations and the ideas they had to address the conditions they saw around them. Instead, these leaders went another step further by recognizing and employing these talents and ideas to bring forth the very changes we now marvel at because of those very conditions.

For many leaders, the approach of the fall season marks the time for the next round of strategic planning, of looking toward the remaining months of the year to see how one can achieve the remaining targets and goals that were mapped out when the year began.

With this in mind, I’d like to ask the following – what are those success stories and inspirational quotes about business or leadership compelling you to do? Do they get you looking out your office door or cubicle, only to admire the people and talent that’s under your care and guidance? Or do they compel you to get out of your office to engage those you lead, immersing yourself in all the opportunities, challenges, joys and hardships that come with the responsibility of serving those you lead?

Growing up, my mom used to chastise me during those remaining summer days in August to go out and enjoy all that summer has to offer. Now I’m encouraging you to do the same and partake of all that your employees have to offer in helping your organization to succeed. Who knows – maybe one day your organization might be the shining example that inspires others not to settle, but to reach for higher goals than they do now.

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  1. On August 30th, 2011 at 6:53 PM Subhabb said:

    Interesting post! Reflecting on it, I realized that I look for inspiration especially when the dark clouds hover. When it's sunny, perhaps we have the opportunity to inspire others. It is in hearing how others have persevered and worked through challenges that I get to the point of 'bouncing back' from mine. Just like finding music that fits the mood, I somehow tend to always find a book or quote that is perfect for what I am facing, or someone who says just the thing that helps me see the light at the end of the tunnel. Leading is about learning and growing. And the type of stories you mention do help me engage better with my team.

  2. On August 30th, 2011 at 11:51 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Thanks Subha; glad you enjoyed this piece. Thanks also for sharing your experience with this. Certainly, this was a very reflective piece, and I'm glad to see it got you thinking more about your own reactions/actions to words or stories of inspiration.

  3. On September 5th, 2011 at 7:04 AM Jim Matorin said:

    Tanveer: I know you & I are fans of analogies. When it comes to being a solid business leader, we have discussed how it can be similar to a jazz musician. Consequently, as Subhabb stated above when the dark clouds hover, I go for a blast of art.

  4. On September 5th, 2011 at 9:49 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Hi Jim. Yep, there's no question of our mutual fondness for analogies, stories and seeking inspiration outside our respective spheres of work/expertise. Thanks for sharing your piece on the architects and artists who serve as an inspiration for you.

  5. On September 5th, 2011 at 9:10 AM Ana said:

    It is amazing how adaptable kids are and I think there's a lot we can learn from them, if only we can maintain that childlike excitement and imagination. As adults we lose that and start living in the future instead of in the present and we miss out on great opportunities. Thank you for sharing this amazing post with us, it's an inspiration!

  6. On September 5th, 2011 at 9:52 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Thanks Ana; I'm glad you enjoyed it. There's no question that not being more aware of what's going on around us in the here and now prevents us from seeing those potential opportunities that lie before us. One only needs to look at the stories of those who've tasted success to see that they didn't wait for 'ideal conditions' to arrive. Instead, they took stock of what they have and how to use it to achieve their goals.

    Thanks again Ana for sharing your thoughts on this piece.

  7. On September 8th, 2011 at 7:43 PM Rachael Slorach said:

    What a beautiful post Tanveer, with a lovely parting note. I really like your analogy between the weather and business.
    I have spent the last week focusing my mind on very specific goals, and clarifying the direction of my business with the changing of the seasons. However, I live in Australia so we are welcoming Spring!!! It has been a long winter.

  8. On September 9th, 2011 at 10:12 AM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Thank you, Rachael. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed this piece and thanks for the kind words. The changing seasons certainly seem to inspire a drive for introspection and review in order to assess how far we've gone and how much further we have left to go. Glad to hear you've been spending the last week reviewing the course of your business and setting up clear goals for the months ahead. As for the long winter, I hear you. Hopefully, you'll be as fortunate as we were in getting a wonderful sunny and warm summer in return.

    Thanks again, Rachael, for your comment and your kind words.

  9. On September 12th, 2011 at 12:57 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Thanks Jon for the kind words; I'm glad to hear this piece inspired you. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts on this piece.

  10. On September 13th, 2011 at 8:58 PM fred finally fast said:

    >>Granted, the weather we had this summer was exceptional

    Holy smokes… I think you are located in Canada? Bless your lucky stars that you had "exceptional weather" this summer!! Our summer in the states was godawful! Flooding, hurricanes, earthquakes, torrential downpours nearly every day or every other day for months on end.. I've never seen anything like it. Those who deny climate change are looking even more foolish than usual 🙂

  11. On September 15th, 2011 at 9:44 AM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Sorry to hear it, Fred. Mind you, the last couple of years we’ve barely had much of what I would call ‘summer weather’. We’d get a week or two of sun followed by weeks of rain or overcast skies. This year, even Spring was reminiscient of what I remember it being like years ago. For example, before my wife and I had kids, we often took our summer vacation in May because they were less people on vacation (because they had to wait until the kids were on summer break) and the weather was wonderful – sunny and warm, but not too hot. The last 5-7 years, though, May is cold and rainy; not what I would call ideal vacation weather.

    In any case, I agree wth you, Fred, that the weather patterns of the last decade or so are far from normal or a mere aberration.

  12. On September 27th, 2011 at 3:57 PM Ana said:

    Comparing business with the weather – good job! I can absolutely relate to that.

    As for my inspiration for work when the times are hard – I remember my success stories, I think about the times I managed to overcome the bad times and how strong and powerful I felt after doing so.

    I try to compare how badly I felt at the time and how, from this point of view, it doesn't seem that bad. Then I transfer those feelings into the current situation.

  13. On September 27th, 2011 at 6:34 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Thanks Ana; glad you enjoyed this piece and thanks for sharing how you go about seeking inspiration to keep pushing ahead when things stall or obstacles start blocking the way.

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