Why Leaders Need Courage through Perspective
Let me guess: you’re about to embark on a new endeavor – or maybe you’re already into it, but success hasn’t clicked yet.
Maybe it’s a new project at work. Pull it off, and you’re a hero, pretty much guaranteed a promotion, or a big fat bonus, or résumé-candy that will make you irresistible to the employer you really want to work for… whatever the surface driver is for you.
Maybe it’s your own business, and you’re either just launching it or you’re taking it to a brand new level. Perhaps that means turning it from a side project to your only source of employment. Maybe it’s transforming it from a lifestyle business into something much larger. Or it could be you’re well past all that, and you’re going to take on new investors, or go public, or expand to overseas markets.
Frightening scenarios are always there for us, no matter what we’re trying to accomplish.
Either way – job or your own company – it’s scary. I know. I’ve been there several times now. At various times over my career, I’ve played the motivated career-builder within someone else’s company. I’m also a compulsive business-founder (much to my poor wife’s chagrin). In fact, I’m there again yet: our baby, Switch & Shift, has passed from crawling through toddling. By now, it’s walking quite well. We’re about to teach it to run. That’s naturally full of risk.
What if we stumble? What if we fall and skin our knees? Break a leg, even?
What if you do? Your project may not be the success you feel you need it to be. Or it could fall flat, leaving you with a huge black eye in your company.
Your business may not thrive yet – or this current business of yours may fail entirely. Then where will you be?
These frightening scenarios are always there for us, no matter what we’re trying to accomplish. After all, opportunity only comes with risk. If you’re trying anything worth doing, worthy of praise, worth a promotion, a bonus, your face on the cover of a magazine, a swagger in your step, there’s going to be a downside built right into it. That downside can look terrifying from where you are right now.
If you’re trying anything worth doing, worthy of praise, worth a promotion, a bonus, your face on the cover of a magazine, a swagger in your step, there’s going to be a downside built right into it.
It’s okay. You don’t need to fret. It doesn’t really matter as much as you think it does right now, in this moment.
I can only say this because I have not only succeeded a few times; I have failed many. Sometimes those were heartbreaking failures. Sometimes terrifying.
But you know what? No one has ever taken away my birthday. Not yet, anyway. I’ve had a few lean birthdays. My longsuffering wife Jane has as well. But we’re still standing. Still here to try again.
And you will be, too. Because here is the really important thing I urge you to consider, mull over, and hopefully come to consider your own over time:
We aren’t here to accomplish stuff. Accomplishing stuff is a bonus.
We’re here to be better versions of who we are right now. Ever-better. That is why we’re here. That’s it.
Are you afraid? You need to tap into your deeper driver, not the obvious surface driver like promotion, wealth, recognition, or whatever success means to you.
You can take this with a religious twist or not, depending on where you stand. This is certainly something that jives very well with the major religions I’m familiar with. Tweak the words a bit and you’re good to go. That’s up to you.
Regardless, isn’t self-improvement the point? Don’t you want to be a better you? Maybe a better manager. Maybe a better founder. Possibly a better parent, or teacher, or public servant, or creator of artistic or architectural beauty, or a better healthcare provider.
Or maybe just a wiser person than you are today. Or a person more able to help others.
That’s my thing. I decided years ago that what really mattered to me is making a difference, in making the world a better place for as many people as I could. I tried the nonprofit realm, and (at least according to me) I failed.
I was shocked. Stunned. Heartbroken.
I grieved, I searched my soul, and I pivoted back to for-profit leadership. Like it or not, that’s my world, that’s what I understand the best; that’s how I can best help make the world a better place for as many people as possible.
So that’s what wakes me up in the morning. That’s why I jump out of bed, and hop on my computer every day before many of you are awake.
Am I an entrepreneur, building a business? Sure. Like many of you.
But who cares, really? That’s my surface driver, the thing that points me forward. But why do I bother?
Why do you bother?
Is it really something so prosaic as your current project, however cool that is? I hope not. How shallow!
As I say often in Human Side TV, I collect fascinating people. I go out of my way to meet them, so I can ask them all sorts of questions, bounce ideas off them, learn from them, and help my audience (online, in a book, or live) learn from them. And you know one theme these remarkable people have in common, almost universally? They’re driven by something bigger than themselves.
Something more substantial.
They have the perspective to know that today’s project will end, and that they are more than their current project.
They’re brave. Their perspective gives them courage.
Are you afraid? You need to tap into your deeper driver, not the obvious surface driver like promotion, wealth, recognition, or whatever success means to you. You need the perspective that today’s endeavor isn’t the end-all.
Though of course you want to do your best, and really nail this thing, that success isn’t why you’re here. It isn’t what ultimately matters, not at all.
Improve. That’s why you’re here. To be a better you.
Take a wider view, and let it make you brave.
Copyright: allg / 123RF Stock Photo