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What’s Your Personal Leadership Garbage Disposal?


What’s Your Personal Leadership Garbage Disposal?

My entire life, I’ve lived in houses with garbage disposals. In fact, I assumed that it was something everyone had and only in adulthood learned that was not the case. Here, in Australia, most people I’ve met in my town have never seen a garbage disposal let alone had one in their home. 

If you don’t know what a garbage disposal is, it’s a device that you attach under your sink, and it grinds up all of your food waste and washes it away down the drain.  

Recently, we bought a house and the first thing we did, before we even moved our things into the house, was to put in a garbage disposal. Other than a dryer (which seem to be equally rare in our town) it was the one thing I couldn’t live without.  

I would not, could not live in a house without a garbage disposal. A few vacation houses I’d visited didn’t have one, and it made life, well, inconvenient. Scraping plates, smelly trash and composting were not for me.  

On the flip side, a friend recently came to dinner in my new home and watched as I shoved our remains down the drain. She wondered if there were any disposals that chopped up the food waste and caught it below the sink to make composting even easier and more effective. Not a thought that would ever cross my mind. Ever.  

I’m a garbage disposal person; she is a compost person. She would not live in a house with a disposal and if she did, wouldn’t use it. I’ve decided I don’t want to live without it.  

That’s the key, you know. Don’t want to. It’s not that I can’t live without it, of course, I can, I’d just be annoyed every time I had to clean up from dinner.  

Ask Yourself: What do you consider mandatory that others consider optional or even detrimental? The answer will point you to your personal leadership garbage disposal.

As far as housing goes, it’s my garbage disposal (and that dryer that I invested countless hours figuring out how we’d squeeze it into our laundry area. I don’t care how charming a Hills Hoist is; I don’t want to use it.)

When I was working for a company as an employee, it was vacation days. Ever since my first job out of college, I had a minimum of four weeks vacation and often also could flex my time.  

I interviewed for a senior leadership position in a start-up, and when they made the offer, the salary package was good, but they included only two weeks of vacation. No way. The negations started. They insisted that nobody except a small few who had been there since Day One had more than two weeks. I didn’t care what the story was but knew that if they wanted me, two weeks vacation wasn’t going to cut it.  

My client, a project manager was well connected in the local area and had many friends who were senior executives in their organizations. The sales team often asked her to make an introduction and come to every single sales meeting. If and when they engaged the company, they wanted her to maintain and expand the relationship too.  

The sales team had sales incentives that she did not. She found the prospect, made the introduction, went to all the sales meetings and maintained the relationship, but they got the commission – she did not. Her garbage disposal? Compensation. If they wanted her to pinch-hit for the sales team and stay in the game, why were they getting the commissions? 

Not too soon after, she left the company. Before she left, the company leaders reminded her that she had an easy commute and her new company would be much more painful. Commute didn’t bother her, not getting paid for the sales work and watching others get paid for her effort mattered more.  

How to Uncover Your Personal Leadership Garbage Disposal

Recognize the Difference Between Don’t Want to and Can’t

When are you using the word can’t and that’s not completely true? You can and don’t want to do it. Notice when you use the two phrases interchangeably. 

Related: Making the Hard Choice Between Pain and Persistence

Separate Your Wish List from Your Must-Have List

Anyone who’s ever looked for a house, or watched Love It or List It, knows that you build a list of “wants” and in the end, you may get most of them but not all of them. You can lose a few from the wish list and still make the leap.  

Know your Line in the Sand

Some people think that you can have 27 lines in the sand all at once, but that’s not useful to you or anyone else. Take the time to figure out what you really want and what matters most. It doesn’t have to be where anyone else would draw their line – this one is all yours.  

Review the Best of Times and the Worst of Times

Take the time to think about what made your experiences exceptional and awful. What was present? What was missing? Grab your journal or favorite device and write it down. You may be surprised what makes the list. 

Stand Strong but Also Look for a Way Forward

My new house didn’t have the disposal, so I bought one and had it installed. Yes, it cost money and time when both were tight, but it was worth it. Are you walking away from opportunities where a little bravery and creativity could make a close to ideal situation into the perfect one? (or at least close)

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