Capital One has a frequently aired commercial with the tag line “What’s in your wallet?” It conveys the message that if you possess their credit card, you will have greater spending power and ability to acquire the things you want and need. But if it stays in your wallet, and you don’t use it, you won’t activate the power it holds. You need to not only have it, you need to use it.
The same is true for the question, “What’s in your hands?” We each possess the capability to accomplish great things if we use the passions, perspectives, talents
Here are several questions to consider regarding what’s in your hands?
- What do you do with the possibilities in your hands? Though it may seem obvious that we should take advantage of good opportunities when they’re presented to us, they don’t always look like we think they should. The new job offer that doesn’t have the compensation package, geographic location, or specific responsibilities we wanted, could actually be a blessing in disguise. It could provide experience that prepares us for our career goals, teaches us valuable lessons or develops a useful skill set. One of my favorite jobs that I never want to hold again was as a labor relations manager in a plant many years ago. The dynamics of the role wasn’t a good match with my strengths, but I learned so much in it that is still useful to me today.
- How do you join hands with others? Collaborating with others who possess diverse but complementary skills can produce a powerful result. As of this writing, the National Football League is about to begin their Super Bowl LIII game between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams. The coaching staff of each team has invested in ensuring that their players know their specific roles and how to come together as a team to execute the plays. They must “join hands” to implement what they’ve practiced.
- What are you holding in your hands that you need to release? You’ve heard the story about the child who put his hand in the cookie jar, grabbed a fist full of cookies and tried to pull it out but couldn’t because his hands were too full. He could easily have taken out one at a time, but his greed made him grab too many. As leaders, sometimes we hoard as much power and resources as possible to elevate and leverage our position above others. But power is a limitless resource that is best activated by giving it away to empower others.
- What are you holding too tightly? It’s a natural inclination that we hold tightly to whatever we fear losing. Sometimes so tightly that it can hold us back from better things. For instance, we may grasp tightly to an unproductive relationship with a person or role, for fear of what the future might bring if we lose it. This fear produces stress and limits our thinking. It can also crush what we’re holding. By loosening our grip, we may instead experience growth and development that enables us to move to more constructive and beneficial interactions.
- Do your hands reflect the work you’ve done? My father was a brick mason for almost 50 years. As a result, his hands were always rough and calloused. Sometimes he would tape up his fingers because they were cracked and bleeding. They reflected the work he performed, but there was always a building as evidence of his labor. What symbols do you have of the work you are performing? Can others point to an outcome that your hands have created? Perhaps a program that you developed, a technology enhanced, an invention conceived, people assisted, or economies improved.
- Do you wear a ring on your hands? Beyoncé sings a song “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” that says, if you like it then you should put a ring on it. You should be committed to nurture and use your capabilities. This means sacrifice, more hard work, making decisions that may be unpopular, all for achieving your dreams, helping others, and accomplishing something of great impact.
Look at your hands right now. What do you see in them?