Reflections on the Rituals of Wise Leaders
Leadership is not about the prestige of your title but the quality of your character. Real leadership is not about position, it’s
about action. And great leaders spend their days helping those around them manifest their highest human potential while they work towards a vision that adds value to the world at large.
In the new economy, leadership will be the quality that will separate the winners from the also-rans. With increasing competition, only those organizations who develop leaders at every level will have the agility and effectiveness to excel in these topsy-turvy times. The organizations that rely on the outdated “top down” model of leadership will not have the speed and nimbleness to go head-to-head against competing companies where everyone understands their duty to show leadership in the way they work and live. In my leadership seminars, I show peak performers how to liberate more of their leadership potential so they see quantum improvements in their professional and personal lives. Here are 4 of the best lessons:
3. Stop doing what is easy and focus on doing what is right. Weak performers spend their time doing those things that are easy. They take the path of least resistance and do only what is comfortable and convenient. They never face their fears and make the tough cold call or give the big public presentation. Instead, they lead small lives, preferring to stay within a limited zone of security that never requires them to stretch their capacities. Bold leaders are far different. They have the wisdom to understand that the tougher you are on yourself, the easier life will be on you. When you have the courage and strength of character to do what your heart tells you is the right thing to do in every instance, rather than doing what is easy, you will raise the quality of your professional and personal life to a whole new level. As the nineteenth-century English writer Thomas Henry Huxley said: “Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not.” Or as Theodore Roosevelt noted one hundred years ago, the highest form of success “comes not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.”
4. Smart leaders know that the time is now. If you don’t act on life, life has a habit of acting on you. The days slip into weeks, the weeks slip into months and the months slip into years. Then we wake up one day, in the twilight of our lives, and wonder what could have been. As I share in my speeches, on your tombstone, there will be two dates: the date of your birth and the date of your death. You will have had no say in the first date and no choice in the second one. But between these two dates will lie a line representing all that lies between the day you arrived and the day you departed.
Stop putting off living. Now is the time to move to the next level in your career. Now is the time to upgrade your education or learn new skills that will allow you to serve your clients better. Now is the time to enrich your mind and shed the shackles of complacency. Now is the time to go the extra mile for your customers and distinguish yourself in a crowded marketplace. Now is the time to deeply connect with your family and build great friendships. And now is the time to enjoy the journey of life – before it becomes too late. As Elisabeth Kubler-Ross said so eloquently: “It is only when we know and understand that we have a limited time on earth – and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up that we begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.”