Are you willing to be a Miss Symmes?

fea_barbara_simonAre you willing to have a tough conversation with someone you like… to tell them the truth even if it may hurt them before it helps them?

Ken Blanchard writes (in Everyone’s A Coach)

I see emotional attachment as a problem not only in business, but in schools with teachers, and at home with parents. They often want to be liked. As a result, they may back off from decisions that would push people to be their best. Few of us enjoy making the kind of intervention in which people might get mad at us. And yet, when you think back, the people who were most influential in your life were probably the ones who got in your face when you needed it.

Then he tells this story to illustrate his point…

I remember an English teacher named Miss Symmes. All the other English teachers I had would pat me on the back and give me a B because they liked me and wanted me to like them. Not Miss Symmes.

The first essay I wrote for her she returned with an F and told me I was better than that. Since I was already a student leader, I thought I could get by with my gift of gab, but she insisted that I needed to learn to write, too. And she wouldn’t back off.

She pushed me and pushed me until, on the last paper I turned in to her, she was proud to give me an A. I was proud too. I’ll never forget her.

Ken Blanchard has published 44 books which have sold over 13 million copies and has strongly influenced the field of leadership. Thank you Miss Symmes.

The question here for all of us who are in leadership roles (home, church, business, etc.) is this… are you willing to be a Miss Symmes to someone else?

Are you willing to sacrifice popularity and even be disliked in the short term to make someone better in the long term? It’s what’s required of leaders and it’s what makes the greatest among us… someone who will tell us the uncomfortable truth and hold us to a higher standard.

Do you have a Miss Symmes story? I’d love to hear it!

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