It Takes One to Tango

It Takes One to Tango post image

Following is a guest post from Rich Largman, an expert in Business Acceleration and an exceptional coach, both personal and business. He is also one of my most trusted colleagues and dearest friends. He shares his insights on personal transformation at EmpireofHope.com.

[Tweet “There is one mindset that is absolutely paralyzing to individuals and organizations alike.”] It is one that creates a victim mentality of helplessness among individuals and steals leadership power from organizations.

It is the “they/their/them” mindset.

  • “They” better do something.
  • It is “their” fault.
  • It is up to “them.”

Looking outside of yourself to fix something you see that needs to be fixed, or expecting “them” to take on needed leadership and fill a leadership vacuum is a recipe for only one thing – dissatisfaction, frustration and endless waiting.

Thankfully I discovered the panacea to this horrendous malady impacting our organizations today.

Simply put, it takes one to tango. I know that goes against conventional wisdom and that well known cliché, but I have seen its powerful truth demonstrated in my own life.

Many years ago I decided I wanted a closer, more demonstrative relationship with my brother and Dad. I know we loved each other, but we didn’t say or show it often. Let’s face it, we were typical guys.

No longer satisfied with this kind of relationship with the men I love and cherish deeply, I decided that every time I saw my Dad or brother I would greet them with a hug. And every time I said good-bye, I would give them a hug and tell them I love them. I was not attached to the outcome. And I was not attached to whether or not they reciprocated. This is something that I wanted to do that was important to me.

As you can imagine, in the beginning of this little game things were a bit awkward. When I hugged my brother he would make funny faces, resist a bit, and wonder what the hell I was doing. My Dad didn’t resist, but he also didn’t reciprocate. Hugging both of them was a bit like hugging a fish. In these initial stages, it felt more like I was doing something to them. But that was OK. I was committed to my action and the communication of my love for them.

This went on for many, many months. I honestly don’t recall how long, but it was quite a while.

Then magic happened. I will never forget either of these unbelievable days in my life.

One day as I was leaving my Dad’s house, we were standing on the front steps. As I said good-bye to my Dad, I was preoccupied with where I needed to be next and turned to walk to my car without practicing my usual ritual of hugging. From behind me as I walked away, I heard my Dad say, “Aren’t you forgetting something?” I turned around to see my Dad’s arms spread as wide as an eagle’s, waiting to envelop me in a huge hug.

Best. Hug. Ever!!!

Some time after that, I was driving my brother to the airport as he was leaving to go on a trip for the US Fencing team. As usual, I drove him to the door where his airline was located, wished him a good trip and waited for him to grab his bags out of the back seat of the car. I nearly fainted when he said, “Hold on, I want to give you a hug.” I still tear up thinking about that moment. It was a huge breakthrough in our relationship as brothers and made us ever closer.

The lesson I learned from this little experiment was that when it comes to leadership, changing behaviors and transforming our relationships, contrary to the familiar saying…it actually just takes one to tango.

So if you find yourself suffering from the “they/their/them” mindset anywhere in your life, the only question to ask yourself is: What experiment will you engage in?


Enter A Comment

Theresa Polich   |   18 May 2016   |   Reply

Never thought of something so simple as a hug being leadership. I do believe now

Rich   |   23 May 2016   |   Reply

Hi Theresa,

It’s funny. When I began my little experiment I certainly did not intend it to be an act of leadership. I simply desired a closer relationship with my brother and Dad and was passionate and committed to creating it. But not surprisingly, if I peel back some of the layers of the onion, and take a look at some of what was present in this experience – a clearly defined heart-centered goal, passion, commitment, relentless pursuit – I can see how it became a wonderful model for leadership.

As Susan often says, it is the little acts, the random acts, in our lives that often demonstrate true leadership .. . and we are all capable of that! Good luck with your hugs! 🙂

Joseph Lalonde   |   23 May 2016   |   Reply

Awesome story Rich. I’m glad you were able to lead your family into a new arena of closeness!

Rich   |   23 May 2016   |   Reply

Hi Joseph!

Thanks for your kind words. The journey was totally worth it and we are all immensely enjoying our regular hugs!

I know of at least one other area in my family where I wanted to create a new arena of relationship – communication. In that domain, I look at my actions being more that of a “cycle breaker”. I considered my family to be a bit dysfunctional in the area of communication. We never seemed to have direct communication with the person we needed/wanted to speak with. From what I could tell, it was like that in my father’s family too. Definitely not a good cycle.

The round about form of “telephone” my family would play drove me nuts, and I finally decided to shift that arena too. It took a while for the rest of the family to catch on to the new habit, and we sometimes slip back into it, especially my Dad, but we have gotten much better!

Here’s to all the loving leadership that is in the world!