When we think of leadership, we immediately associate it with someone who has risen through the ranks of the corporate world. Battling it out to the get the big sales and create a level of influence that is the envy of the office. This is 100% true, but only one side of the coin. The other side is a place we rarely see. It is rarely seen as it can involve loneliness, frustration and above all, a vision that few can see.
So what exactly is leadership? The Oxford dictionary describes leadership in 2 ways:
- The action of leading a group of people or an organisation
- The state or position of being a leader.
While these definitions are credible, it neglects the initial step of leadership. The first definition is what is seen by others and the second is a vague reiteration of the first.
However, leadership has to start from somewhere and that place is…YOU. Yes, that’s right: leadership starts WITHIN. While we can look for external sources of motivation and inspiration, nothing is more powerful than listening to your soul.
I will not apologise if the above sounds a little wishy-washy because the fact is that we cannot lead other people if we can’t even control our own lives. Leadership begins with a decision. Nothing subconscious either, it starts with a deliberate, conscious decision to say “enough is enough” and not look back.
RAISE YOUR STANDARDS
This is an easy one to say, but confronting to action. Anyone can say I will raise my game or lift my standards but few actually implement because they don’t understand what is truly required. They say leadership is a lonely place and that is because you have to look deep within your soul to unearth the ‘nasty creatures’ that have been causing the anxiety and frustration in the first place. Essentially what you’re doing is illuminating a dark room and discovering what is really there. It sucks but must be done to live an exceptional life.
You raise your standards by looking into the mirror and making a pledge to yourself that from that moment fourth, you will live your greatest life with all your energy, all your might and all the self love you have to give. Winston Churchill famously said “success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm” and he is right! While it can be difficult to sustain such energy, especially in the face of adversity, it’s essential to remind yourself of the pledge.
LOOK FORWARD TO FAILURE
Yes I said it, rather than fear what may come, accept that failure will happen eventually and look forward to it because you know that you have just discovered one process that didn’t work so you look for the alternatives. Aikido founder and martial arts expert, Morihei Ueshiba believed that “failure is the key to success, each mistake teaches us something” so don’t think too much about the fall of failure; smile, dust yourself off and keep running.
CHANGE YOUR PHYSIOLOGY
“Where focus goes, energy flows” – Tony Robbins
The above quotation is pure perfection! Tony Robbins hit the nail on the head during his unleash the power within seminar when he passionately announced the role physiology has on our mind. As a scientist, I have studied the effects that posture and subsequent release of endorphins has on the mind. It is incredible. By simply changing your posture and gait by a few degrees can make you feel taller, stronger and more mentally agile. Try it for yourself. It’s so powerful.
PREPARE FOR RESISTANCE
The moment you decide to raise your standards you will begin to notice resistance. This resistance will come from people around you. You will begin to see with clarity where you currently are, and where you want to be. This will help you decide who is holding you back and those that will push you to achieve your goals. This is one of the first ‘uncomfortable’ hurdles you will experience with changing your game. Difficult choices will always confront you, the more practice you get the better you’ll be at managing these situations and if it means leaving some people behind, so be it.
The aim is to not look back when you make those decisions, it’s part fo the growth process. A friend told me once that the people who are meant to be part of your life will always be there, whether you’re 1km or 100kms away, distance plays no role. We was right!
BE GRATEFUL FOR THE SIMPLE THINGS IN LIFE
Rising to another level is a beautiful process. It provides the opportunity to sit back a little and be thankful for what you already have, the people you’ve met and what is to come. There is an elegant purity to this process that is so simple, yet incredibly powerful. You will find your shoulders relaxed, you will smile organically and even…at times…cry with pride. What a truly magical existence we have.
LET IT BE
Once you have done everything you can to consciously make your life better, raising your standards and living to the best of your ability morally and ethically, let the rest be…Spirituality is a complex and confronting topic for some but I encourage you to look for it. I find great fulfilment in my faith. My fulfilment from living comes from the simplest of interactions with people. I have been blessed from an early age to have been exposed to volunteering opportunities with the elderly and the youth though teaching and there is no greater feeling than knowing that your small contribution is making a difference to someone else.
ITS YOUR CHOICE
Ultimately, with anything in life, it comes down to choice. You can either go right or left, walk forward or backwards, grow or remain stagnate, accept mediocrity or rise to extraordinary. You may even finish reading this article and find it rubbish…Thats ok, the choice is yours to decide and I respect your decisions. Just note that every decision has a consequence and “if you think you can or you can’t, you’re probably right”.
I hope you find some value from this article. Leadership is an interesting topic as it is so subjective. We all have different styles and opinions about what great leadership involves and that is the beauty about communication…It’s open for discussion. So look within yourselves and you will discover something incredible.
With much love and respect