We desperately need elegant leaders in every aspect of our lives: business, politics, education, health and wellness, financial, religious institutions of all faiths, the military – everywhere.
By elegant, I mean leaders who have a way of helping others reach their greatest good with the least effort, intrusion, and disruption.
In an earlier post I defined a leader as someone who takes us [helps us go] places we cannot or will not go by ourselves.
That being said, we’re still short-handed when it comes to “elegant” leaders. Here’s why.
Elegant leaders are NOT:
- Power hungry for control and command
- Ego driven at the expense of followers
- Attention deprived, self-aggrandizers (no matter how charismatic they appear)
- Willing pawns ready to do the bidding of hidden power brokers
- Self-deluded that they are acting for the greater good when their first thought at the moment of difficult decisions is for their own survival
- Leading from behind (an oxymoron on its face)
Unfortunately, many of those who put themselves out there as our leaders and tell us to follow them are NOT ELEGANT LEADERS. At their core, they might be fine individuals, but they misunderstand and misapply leadership.
Elegant leaders ARE:
- Solution oriented, with a clear vision and understanding of end results that are beneficial for the greater good
- Focused on what can be, instead of looking for scapegoats
- Eager for everyone’s success and growth
- Collaborative and inclusive
- Compassionate, empathetic, and forgiving
- Protective of their followers and self-sacrificing if necessary
- Trusting, hopeful, and persevering
Therefore, I describe an Elegant Leader as someone who:
- INLarges our expectations of living by helping us define our greatest aspirations and to pursue them;
- INLivens our heart with hope and possibilities that evoke joy and passion;
- INLightens our mind with information and insights we need to find our way, and who
- INCourages our spirit to persevere when obstacles seem insurmountable or when the way forward seems unclear. They trust in us, believe in us, and are close by to stabilize our footing when we slip or stumble.
At this very moment, you have what it takes to be an elegant leader, because leadership has nothing to do with age, gender, or race. It has everything to do with clarity, accountability, and relationships.
Take the test. Are you:
- Clear about the direction you are heading and the results you are out to accomplish? If you are not, stop and get this right. A way-maker also takes time to help others clarify their own destination, dreams, and goals.
- Accountable to yourself for the consequences of your own actions – no excuses. Get this right first before others will find you trustworthy. Be true to yourself.
- Committed to the relationships you develop on your journey. If you arrive at the destination alone, you have led no one, nowhere.
Elegant leaders appeal to us because their strength rises from within. They comfort us by their presence while they reassurance us of our own strength. They help us to believe in ourselves.
Become this elegant leader and you will be
We desperately need you to be an Elegant Leader.
So, you’re having trouble changing a habit, or getting started on a project, or making other important changes in your life. Well, you’re a living, breathing example of Sir Isaac Newton’s first law of motion, which he wrote about in 1687.
Here’s my rendition of it as it applies to each and every one of us: We tend to want to keep on doing what we’ve always done, so we’ll tend to keep on getting what we’ve always got, unless someone or something forces us out of our rut.
This law applies to whether we are sitting still or moving. As Newton aptly observed, bodies naturally resist changing their current state, whether at rest or in motion. It’s called inertia.
You’ve probably guessed, the secret to making the changes is in the “unless” part of the law–unless we are forced out of our rut (a.k.a. current state).
In my last post, Programming yourself to be INPowered, I stressed how important it is to consider that we might need to reprogram ourselves into a different way of thinking about our life and opportunities. Isaac Newton operated at the action level, and his observations are still valid. So if you can’t quite get to the programming level yet, consider the energy you can generate by forcing yourself to take a different action.
You’ve probably heard some of these motivational quips of encouragement:
- “If you want something different, you’ve got to do something different.”
- “Act enthusiastic and you’ll be enthusiastic.”
- “Fake it ‘till you make it.”
- “It’s easier to act yourself into a better way of feeling, than to feel yourself into a better way of acting.”
- “Just do it.”
Hey, they work. The good news is that we can get out of our rut.
The bad news is, we probably won’t until the force moving us out is greater than the inertia to remain same ol’, same ol’. Which, by the way, is Newton’s second law of motion: the change will be in proportion to and in the same direction as the outside force acting on the body.
My rendition of that law is, we tend to remain same ol’, same ol’ until it’s too painful to do so. Then, we will react to the force causing the change.
Now for the reprogramming.
Because we are a living, rational/emotional human beings, and not merely some lump in space, we can be INPowered to generate the forces of change to improve our lives through our force of will and thought. The forces acting can come from within. The universe can and will work with us, not against us.
One of my favorite INPowerment quotes comes from the late Paul J. Meyer, founder of Success Motivation Institute.
“Whatever you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe, and enthusiastically act upon, must inevitably come to pass.”
Trust this force within you to choose to live life intentionally.
Unleash the creative energy within you,
and you will be
If you want your life to change for the better, you not only have to do something different, you must think about things differently. You might need to be reprogrammed.
Insanity is described as doing the same things over and over, but expecting a different result. We can make the case that insanity is thinking about things the same way, and expecting different results.
You’ve probably seen a version of the illustration at the top of this post. It shows that our destiny is the outcome of our actions that become our habits, which shape our character. So, in a sense, your destiny is where your are now–right this very moment. Your destiny is the cumulative result of all the choices you have made in your life. If you are not happy with your current destiny, your future one won’t be any different unless you think about your life differently.
Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them.” Application: WE CANNOT CHANGE OUR DESTINY BY THINKING THE SAME WAY THAT GOT US WHERE WE ARE TODAY.
Being INPowered is taking charge of your own programming. You get to choose what goes into your mind. I recommend you take the following action.
1. Create a vivid mental picture of the ultimate destiny you seek.
Positive psychology and positive thinking rightly extends the origin of our destiny into the realm of thoughts. The importance of positive thinking is as old as mankind. Every religious and spiritual tradition emphasizes it. Many of them directly connect our thoughts to communication with a higher power. But I know from experience that the power of visualization and positive thinking works regardless of your belief in a higher power.
Garland with Mike Dooley
I recently had the opportunity to spend a weekend with Mike Dooley, author of several positive thinking books including Manifesting Change and Infinite Possibilities. His mantra is, “thoughts are things.” He teaches we should focus on the destiny we desire, and forces in the university will partner with us to help make it so as we take action toward our dreams.
There are many positive thinking teachers who offer helpful information and insights into improving your life. I recommend you check them out for yourself. One of them will speak to your needs.
2. Accept the fact that we are programmed from birth.
Programming happens through the variety of information our brain takes in and associates into patterns that help us survive and find happiness. It’s not a sinister plot to ruin our lives. There are many sources.
- Our parents imprint their beliefs and values in our minds as they instruct and guide us.
- Our experiences provide information, which we apply directly to the do’s and don’ts of living.
- We watch and listen to others and adopt and adapt their experiences and ideas into our own lessons of life.
Identify the sources of your programming and how the programming has shaped your values, beliefs, and opinions. You are acting from them, and what you are getting in your life is a direct result of your beliefs. Ask: to have the destiny you want, what reprogramming must happen? You can put new information into your life that will reprogram what you value, believe, and think. This will give you new information from which to choose new actions and ultimately create a new destiny.
3. Have the courage to redefine yourself.
I have found, that to change my destiny, I’ve had to reprogram. And as I reprogrammed, what I really was doing was changing my beliefs about who I am. I was establishing a different identity of myself – a new understanding of who I am and what I believe, and what I ultimately want in life. WOW!
Here’s the challenge: reprogramming and redefining might mean relocating, reevaluating relationships, and reprioritizing your daily life. You will find a new self emerge with a new outlook on life and a renewed spirit to pursue it.
It’s your destiny.
Program yourself to be
I am often asked, as a consultant, “Why do so many employees wait around to be told what to do next instead of showing initiative?”
At the expense of oversimplifying the situation, I believe it’s because they learned it was safer to wait for permission instead of sticking their neck out.
We come into this world at the top of our lungs, motivated and INPowered. Somewhere along the way we learn speaking out, taking action, and showing initiative can be dangerous.
We are taught to keep quiet, stand in line, wait our turn, and don’t color outside the lines. Any deviation from the norm requires permission from authority. Those lessons play out in the work place to reward compliance over creativity, good enough over excellence, blending in over standing out, and playing it safe over taking a risk.
Do something different, take a chance, or propose something progressive, and there is a chorus of critics with 1001 reasons why it won’t work, and why doing nothing is better than whatever it was you proposed. Who ever heard of such nonsense, anyway?! Or there are authority figures who shoot you down, because keeping things the same old way also keeps them in power.
So, if you are waiting for permission to show your stuff, I’m giving it to you now. Go ahead.
Am I arrogant to that I think I can grant you blanket permission? Well, it’s not arrogance, because you have always had permission. You just bought into the lie that you must wait for someone to give it to you.
Thank goodness for Gen Y and the kids being born today. Their norm is, “full speed ahead. Everything goes.” They renew my spirit and remind me of the unabashed idealism that inspired me to dream big and aim high.
You have permission to keep it up relentlessly.
But just in case you are already feeling the inertia to tone it down, let me remind you:
- You were born with permission to live, love, dream, and be happy. Do all without apology.
- There is no one else in the whole human race like you. You are unique, and you bring something special to everyone you meet. The fact you live adds to the glory of this universe. You possess the seeds of greatness.
- You were INPowered at birth to achieve your greatest good. Whatever you choose to do with your life, it is exactly as it should be. Be proud of who you are, where you are. Blossom where you are planted.
Permission granted to be
The World According to ME is our comfort zone, or comfort world.
I started becoming more INPowered when I learned how my comfort world operates.
We are automatically in a state of conflict anytime we are not getting what we need, want or expected. Sometimes the conflict is mild stress. Sometimes it is full-blown panic. The illustration above is my model of this conflict situation.
Anytime we are forced outside the boundaries of our comfort world we go into stress. Actually, the stress sets in as we approach the edges of our comfort world, away from our center of comfort. If the threat to our comfort world is too large and too sudden, we will likely panic.
Panic is any exaggerated behavior we act out in order to try to restore comfort in our life. You have heard of the “fight or flight condition.” These are expressed as a form of panic.
I remember the first time I was told that I had to learn to swing dance, or else lose my girlfriend. This photo expresses my feelings at the time.
Somehow, I got through it. Mostly because I began with basic baby steps in a non-threatening environment (a class) where everyone was as inept as I. Each week I got a little better and more comfortable.
Today, the picture below is an actual promotional photo I use with my dance seminar partner and dance coach, Cyndi, to publicize a workshop we put on called, Finding Your Leadership Frame: lessons of leadership from the dance floor. I now swing dance in public and in front of an audience (although I’m a novice swing dancer).
As I learn to dance, I was stretching my comfort zone a little at a time. Over time, I grew or enlarged my comfort zone by small increments, until today, I’m comfortable enough to demonstrate with Cyndi some of the parallels between leading and following in dancing and leading and following in other aspects of our lives, professionally and personally. It’s a BLAST!!!
So, what ever it is that scares you and causes you want to stay close to the center of your comfort zone, consider venturing toward the edges and giving yourself a little stretch. Just enough so that you don’t panic. Before you realize it, you’ll be INPowered in ways you earlier thought were impossible.
Stretch your comfort zone, and you will become