If you’re plugged in these days, you know that our computers and smartphones contain various operating systems—basically a structure to run the specific programs we use. As you’ve probably experienced (perhaps with much frustration), when apps and programs get too complicated to handle, the operating system performs inefficiently and can ultimately crash! Updating to a newer operating system makes your device optimize performance the way it was designed. Have you ever thought that you too have an “operating system?”
In a sense, leaders have personal operating systems, which we refer to as our Leader Level. This is a way of maturing throughout our lives that allows us to adapt to change. If we’re stuck in an outdated operating system, we can cause serious damage to ourselves and those around us. When we are working from an appropriate, more developed operating system, however, all of the other programs we run (our relationships, judgment, perspective, etc.) perform more effectively.
The developmental journey of the most effective leaders involves continually searching for the limitations of their current system and using those challenges to develop a more mature perspective. What was an effective way to make sense of the world for us as a 12-year-old, wasn’t effective for us as a 22-year-old and isn’t effective for us as a 42-year-old or 62-year-old. As children, it is perfectly effective to view the world in a simplistic, black-and-white manner. Eventually we have enough experiences to realize that the world isn’t always black and white, and without change, our system begins failing us. Without realizing what we’re doing, we are beginning to develop a more mature operating system that allows for greater complexity. In our youth, and as adults, it is the challenges of life that we can use to keep making upgrades to our way of thinking.
Here are a few tips to consider for your upgrade:
- By leaning into the limitations of your current operating system (how you approach the world), you can accelerate the upgrade process—push yourself with new challenges.
- Evaluate a difficult circumstance to see where your perspective is being challenged and assess how you can adjust—don’t just endure it, learn from it.
- Seek out ways to gain feedback from others on where they may see opportunities for you to upgrade—be open to their honest input.
Just as Apple, Microsoft or Google continue to push the limits to create the most advanced operating systems for our phones and computers, our personal operating systems never reach perfection. By making growth a priority, we guard against poor performance or worse yet, a system crash!
How about considering an upgrade to your personal operating system?