People change. Sometimes they change for the better. Sometimes they change for the worse. But, nonetheless, they change.

The physiological way that humans develop indicates that. Each of us starts out basically the same way at birth, then we grow and mature, with similarities to our families as well as things that are unique to us. Different hair colors, eye colors, heights, weights, shapes, interests, personalities, temperaments, and strengths and weaknesses.

While physical growth stops at some point, it is the only way in which we stop changing. Everything else should be directed at changing (growing and maturing) for the better, but, at times, we all get sidetracked and derailed for a little while, and while that is change too, it’s definitely not change for the better. 

However, most of us eventually come back from that sidetracking and those derailments and start moving forward again in the right direction.

quintessential-leaders-see-people-as-moviesQuintessential leaders get sidetracked and derailed sometimes during their lifetimes, so they understand this is part of being human. They also understand that it’s a temporary snapshot in time, like a picture, that does not represent the whole time before and after that time. They understand that people are movies.

What do I mean by that? Quite simply, I mean that there are multiple iterations of each of us as we go through life. As we get older, gain knowledge, gain experience, gain wisdom, and gain maturity, we change into a new and, hopefully (though not always), improved version of ourselves. Seeing people as a movie gives us a whole context about that person.

People are not static in time. Quintessential leaders understand that the big picture and the whole picture of a person is what must be considered and evaluated, including who a person is now.

Quintessential leaders understand – because we’ve failed, we’ve made mistakes, and we’ve been completely wrong about things during our lifetimes – that failures, mistakes, and even being completely wrong about something can be powerful forces for positive and dramatic change in a person’s life.

Unquintessential leaders are easily distinguishable because they see people as still photos frozen in time. This point in time may be positive, leading to deification, or negative, leading to condemnation, but, nonetheless, it is a single frame in the movie of a person’s life.

frozen in timeNo one can be properly evaluated, considered or understood without the context of his or her entire life. To see a person as the sum of a single moment in his or her history is foolish, irrational, and absurd.

Yet this is exactly what unquintessential leaders do. It’s as though nothing happened before or after the moment in time they have frozen the person they’re looking at into.

What does this look like?

Have you ever had someone bring up something you said or did years ago and refuse to believe that you’ve changed from that position or action? These kinds of people see you as a still photo frozen in time.

Have you had people in leadership positions exhume a mistake or a failure – we’ve all made plenty of them, so no one is exempt from this one (although unquintessential leaders are at their hearts and cores dishonest because they will never admit they fail or make mistakes) – that happened in the distant past and revive it as current point of contention? These people see you as a still photo frozen in time.

This is probably one of the worst injustices that one person can perpetrate against another person because it says:

  • A person can’t change
  • A person can’t grow
  • A person can’t mature
  • A person can’t improve
  • A person is never forgiven
  • Nothing before or after that particular moment in time matters

So, as we strive to be quintessential leaders, I strongly urge each of us to look into our own mirrors every day and find the places in our lives where we have people (I would also encourage us to look at our thinking and our ideas because that’s where this starts) whose lives have intersected or do intersect with ours whom we see as a still photo frozen in time.

Because, unfortunately, freezing people in time is a human proclivity. We have to be consciously aware of it and we have to be diligently learning to see people as movies.

This is can be a hard thing to do until it becomes a part of how you do things. But the easiest way to make this a habit is to turn the tables on yourself and ask “what if all I had was one still photo of my life and it wasn’t one of my finer moments as the complete summary of my life?”

Think about that now while you’re reading this. And remember to think about it every time you’re tempted to see people as still photos frozen in time.

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