“Speech is a very important aspect of being human. A whisper doesn’t cut it.”
—James Earl Jones, American actor and voice of Darth Vader
Image from Unsplash by Julien Backhaus
What are some of the most important qualities of an outstanding leader? What are the factors that have people follow them in their personal, professional, or civic communities?
Who are the leaders — past and present — that you most admire? What actions do and did they take to enroll and engender others?
Today’s quote clearly offers a key answer: Fundamental to a leader’s role is to speak about the future they envision, and gain buy-in to these futures from others.
Given this perspective, leadership is not limited to just the famous or powerful. It is a quality we all can apply daily to live the dreams we dream.
How often and where do you speak up to share your vision for the future?
Where would it be beneficial to raise the volume on the whispering voices within to tell the world where you stand?
“I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.”
—John O’Donohue, late Irish poet, author, philosopher
I recently attended a webinar on leadership resilience led by Mike Rochelle, a former three star general. He shared a story about the “Type A Personality Modification” class that was part of his military leadership development.
As a person who lived by his wristwatch, Mike was always in a rush to maximize his efficiency and effectiveness. His instructor gave him the assignment to go without his watch for a full week to see what happened.
During that week Mike discovered a whole new world of sights, sounds, and feelings previously hidden by his laser focused approached of getting from point A to point B. He began living life like a river and became much more present to its unfolding, and of course, the many people guided by his leadership.
Check out the 15-minute 2018 adventure documentary, Traveling on Trash by Dan Cullum and his friends, who traveled the 2,000 miles of the Mississippi River in 56 days. I hope that you, too, get caught up by the unfolding of its story.
“So many conditions of happiness are available. You don’t have to run into the future in order to get more.”
—Thích Nhất Hạnh, late Vietnamese Thiền Buddhist monk
Image from Amazon
As part of my coaching process, I introduce my clients to a concept called “creative tension” coined by Robert Frisk in his book, The Path of Least Resistance from the early 90’s.
The idea that an envisioned or expected future has the power to excite and pull us toward it has been a classic and useful tool in leadership training and enrolling people in new opportunities for millennia. It turns out that people tend to be pretty happy and engaged when their efforts lead to progress toward a desired future.
This means of generating a sense of happiness is, however, not the only condition available to us.
How can you use your amazing memory as well as your mindfulness capacities to examine the past and present to bolster your ability to seek and find more happiness?
“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
Image from Unsplash by Galen Crout
What causes do you care about the most? How do they line up and align with your core values and beliefs? To what degree do people in your various communities know what causes you support?
Early in my professional career one of my more senior colleagues introduced me to a quick and easy-to-remember lesson on leadership.
His nugget of wisdom was to always speak about what you stand for versus what you oppose. Being positive and less oppositional is clearly a better approach to finding areas of alignment and agreement.
What are some of your best ways to have people join you in the causes you care about the most?
How can you more successfully take a stand without stepping on too many toes?
“Get out there. See the people.”
Image from Unsplash by krakenimages
I have a friend and client named Tim who is a highly successful business leader. He exemplifies many strong qualities of leadership and personal character that most of his customers, colleagues, and even competitors admire.
Among his most positive attributes is his willingness to take initiative and proactively put himself out into the world to see the people and make things happen.
Where do you find yourself on the introvert-to-extrovert spectrum, especially given the constraints caused by the pandemic?
How have you continued to reach out to connect despite your efforts to be physically distant and keep one another safe?
Where have you not made the effort to be out in the world in some essential way?
How can and will you get out there and (safely) see the people in the coming months?
How can and will you encourage others in your personal and professional communities to do the same?
“The best leaders see themselves as CROs: Chief Reminder Officers.”
—Patrick Lencioni, author of The Motive
Image from Unsplash by Volodymyr Hryschchenko
What do the following have in common?
• The Ten Commandments
• The Pledge of Allegiance
• A catchy campaign slogan
• A vision or mission statement
• Mom’s reminder to wash your hands and brush your teeth as a child
They are all examples of leadership in that they remind us of things we value and believe in.
When most effective, these reminders are not only remembered, but can also be seen coming from those of us engendered by their messages. In this way, leaders create more leaders to share their messages.
Who are the Chief Reminder Officers in your world, and what are their key messages?
Where are or can you be a CRO for others in your personal and professional communities?
“Leaders don’t force people to follow—they invite them on a journey.”
—Charles S. Lauer, late publisher of Modern Healthcare magazine
Image from Unsplash by Matt Heaton
We have all been taken to school lately on the subject of Leadership. What messages are you hearing that touch and stir your head, heart, and soul?
Who is speaking a future that resonates on the frequency of your vision and value?
Who is describing a journey with passion and purpose? Who is inviting you to contribute your best to a worthy mission?
When strong leaders demonstrate such qualities in words, actions, and enduring character, they engender us to follow and become leaders as well.
Where have you been called and invited on an important journey?
Where can and will you invite others in your personal or professional communities to join you in creating a better world?
“It’s amazing how a little tomorrow can make up for a whole lot of yesterday.”
—John Guare, American Playwright
Image from Unsplash by Leonardo Yip
Time travel is not just possible. Today’s quote suggests that we all do it daily in our thoughts. Through forms of mindfulness such as meditation or leisurely walks in nature we can view our thinking mind with greater perspective and objectivity.
How often do you review or replay the events of yesterday with a critical eye of what worked and what didn’t? How self-satisfied or perhaps upset do you feel about various events, efforts, and interactions? How easy is it to let these thoughts go, be present, and look toward the future you intend to create?
The power of a vision is miraculous in that it pulls us like a tractor beam in a sci-fi space adventure. This gravitational attractive force is a critical element of self-leadership—and leadership in general—when we are intentional about thinking and speaking about a bright future.
How can and will your own self-leadership efforts to speak and create many better tomorrows make up for any yesterdays that didn’t go as you hoped? What would be the value of doing this exercise on a daily basis?
“Being charismatic doesn’t make you a leader. Being a leader makes you charismatic.”
—Seth Godin, American Author
Image from Unsplash by Ani Kolleshi
The COVID-19 pandemic has tested all of us in may ways, personally and professionally.
Who are the individuals that stand out in your heart and mind as true leaders, taking a stand for what they value and believe?
Consider the folks at the grocery store, your mail carrier, your local banker, and other essential business professionals. How about those health care workers putting their lives on the line, leaving their homes to help those hit hardest, some even going to other states?
What about our military professionals and government officials? Who has truly stepped up? Who has side-stepped or blamed others for how things are or are not progressing?
How can and will you more fully acknowledge and recognize the acts of leadership all around you? How and in what ways have you stepped up to be seen and heard in your communities? What would be the value if all people around the globe did the same?