During the last session of a leadership training course, I shared several closing remarks. Reflecting on this approach, I realized that these are not closing thoughts they would have been better shared as opening thoughts.
Every leader would benefit from reflecting on these five guiding principles that are focused on self- leadership.
Thought #1: Caused vs. Caused Upon – A person with a cause leads their life with a clarity and direction. A person that is caused upon is seeking to adhere to the purpose of another. Either option is perfectly acceptable as long as you have made that choice. If you are caused upon and miserable that becomes yours to resolve.
I suggest that our greatest cause is to deploy our strengths in the service of others. David Brooks would say that we live for meaning vs. happiness. Leaders lead authentically when they are driven by meaning.
Carl Jung would say “As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.”
Thought #2: Playing It Safe vs. Playing With Courage – The work that is connected to a cause will require courage. Playing it safe will mean your vision will not be obtained and will keep you from improving. Worst yet, playing it safe means others may not experience the benefit of your purpose.
Ryan Holiday would say “Persistence is taking action toward your vision and perseverance is the will to take action again and again and again.”
Thought #3: Life Taking vs. Life Giving – I have seen poor leaders that are life takers. They walk into a room demanding the attention from their teams and suck the energy out of the room. I have also been on teams when the leader was there to provide life and bring energy to the room.
Your job as an inspirational leader is to be a life giver. Bring the energy to the room vs. take the energy out of the room. Giving energy to the room by taking an interest in the challenge and the person vs. displaying anxiety and hopelessness.
If you are still pursuing your career aspirations more than assisting with the aspirations of your employees, you are missing an opportunity.
Thought #4: Results Only Vs. Focused On Your Vision – I would be a business heretic if I said that results do not matter. They matter a great deal and they are not the only thing that matters. Progress matters. People matter. Community matters. Connection matters.
Seth Godin would say “There are results then there is community, contribution, what our friends think, trust, quality, doing work that matters with people we care about.”
To stay focused on your vision presumes that you have a vision. Start with answering “Where are you going?”Do not worry about answering ‘how’ or ‘why’ just answer ‘where.’
Thought #5: Story Defines You Vs. Strengthens You – We all have a story. Stories of triumph and pain. Your story can either strengthen you – make you better or define you by holding you back and becoming your excuse.
No doubt, these are opening thoughts as you move into leadership.