Remembering the reason…
…and those we’ve lost.
Pvt. Donald Lonsway, US Army
Lost to cancer directly attributed to agent orange exposure during his service in Vietnam, 1967-68
Now for what NOT to do:
#1 Fail to walk the walk: “Do as I say…” works on two year old kids, but not for long.
Lead by example and make sure your words stand on a foundation of action.
#2. Lie: Leadership depends on trust.
A dictator can lie- provided he has the necessary resources to ensure compliance by force and coercion.
The leader’s most valuable commodity is trust, and that is only earned through honesty.
#3 Forget that the leader is a servant: Be the Sensei!
The Sensei is recognized as a leader only through service to the students. As a leader, you are a teacher and mentor- you must serve your followers by sharing your courage, compassion, wisdom and…power.
You just can’t do it all by yourself! Your power only expands through sharing.
Your ability to lead depends absolutely on the trust and loyalty of your followers. If people are not following you of their own free will, you’re not a leader- you’re a dictator.
The difference is simple.
When the going gets tough, the leader can count on loyal followers.
The dictator is fighting off the coup.
Leadership is your ability to attract willing followers. Effective leaders attract followers by their words and actions- which must be consistent.
For years I asked young students in my Leadership Team program to define the qualities of an effective leader. I’ve had the honor to validate these qualities with some very impressive people in the leadership community.
The 3 most essential qualities of a leader are:
If you want to be an effective leader, dedicate yourself to personal growth and development in each area…
Courage: Practice doing what’s tough.
Show others that you’re willing to do what is right, even when it’s not necessarily expedient or profitable in the short term.
Demonstrate your willingness to face challenges and adversity- even when…especially when you’re afraid.
Compassion: Develop your capacity to understand and respond to the needs of others.
This doesn’t mean “going soft.” It means genuine empathy- understanding the needs and concerns of others.
You can only serve others in a meaningful way when you understand them. That’s genuine compassion.
Wisdom: Know your Self and others through learning, experience and awareness.
Knowledge alone does not guarantee wisdom- neither does time. Awareness is the constant process of assessing one’s knowledge and experience in the context of the present moment.
Wisdom is a continual process- not a static point. Wisdom is not a diploma on the wall or a certificate from a leadership retreat.
Wisdom is the never-ending process of mindfulness and your ability to adapt to ever-changing circumstances and conditions that comes from self-awareness, knowledge and experience.
Let’s frame all this in the form of 3 action steps.
Here are 3 things you can do TODAY to become a more effective leader:
1. Do what is right and necessary even when it’s tough: Courage
2. Dedicate yourself to the principle that authentic leadership is service to others: Compassion
3. Embrace the never-ending process of self-perfection: Wisdom
There are really only two types of people in the world- leaders and followers. Right now, we need more leaders.
Friday we’ll talk about 3 things you should NOT be doing…if you want to be an effective leader!
It’s nearly impossible to stop. You want to find some rationale for terror and mass violence. The human mind is wired to create stories that make sense…
…at least to you.
As a point of fact- the human mind is a master story teller. Your mind is designed to craft amazing stories that fit whatever circumstances you need to survive. This process involves delusion, deception, time shifting, exaggeration, diminishment and fabrication.
Your mind will create the story that best makes sense to you.
The stuff your mind uses to author these stories are your past experiences, beliefs and cultural paradigms. In other words, in an attempt to make sense of the world, you create stories in your mind based mostly on how you’ve experience the world- so far.
This is why eye-witness accounts vary widely. It’s why someone can look directly at a photograph and deny that person is a person they know well.
It’s why a mother, father and aunt cannot believe their loved ones were involved in an act of terrorism.
This is also why many people believe in wide-ranging government conspiracies and cannot accept that sane and rational people intentionally commit mass murder and terror.
No- there must be some other reason.
In fact, people can commit acts of murder and violence with rational purpose and intent. The mind of a mass murderer or terrorist is simply creating a different story than yours.
In the minds of those formed by conditions in Chechnya, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and other similar places, the world is a place full of injustice, immorality and oppression. They are taught that to fight against this oppression and immorality is a holy calling and that killing in the name of the cause will be rewarded by God.
Understand this mindset before you rush to judgement.
I am not saying you should accept acts of violence and terrorism; quite the opposite.
As long as you delude yourself that these atrocities are only the acts of psychopaths and conspiracists, your story is a work of fiction, not fact.
Your mind isn’t wired for THIS story…
A guy drops a backpack and scurries away. He glances furtively over his shoulder. The backpack then explodes killing and maiming dozens of people around you.
Our experience has changed over the past decade and the past few days. It’s time to change the story. You cannot respond to facts when you’re living a fiction.
Everyday I ask my young martial arts students to call out the two most important words in martial arts. Their answer is:
Now you know that unattended luggage is a sign of danger. You know that an abandoned backpack can explode. You know that a terrorist is as likely to wear a turned-around ball cap as a ghutra.
You also know that someone who wants to do you harm may appear sane, rational and calm…because they are.
People everywhere are asking what can be done to stop all of this.
Until the plot changes, the best thing you can do is try to understand the real meaning behind this story and…
Sit Still, Shut Up…and Breathe!
Yesterday’s attack on Boston struck very close to home…
Shortly after the reports came in, I found out that my brother had been at the exact location of the bombing just 15 minutes before the first explosion. His girlfriend had just finished the race and they had walked two blocks away when they heard the blast.
I knew that many of my friends went to the marathon and we were scrambling for news. Gratefully, all those I knew were safe.
It is natural to feel gratitude when you find out those closest to you are safe. It is also natural to feel anger with more intensity when violence is directed at those you know personally.
So knock off the rhetoric about how we should feel this badly when any attack happens anywhere in the world. It’s part of our genetic make-up and a survival mechanism that we are able to remove ourselves to some degree when violence is not as intimate. It is appropriate to respond with sympathy for any victims of violence- it is just as appropriate to feel more when violence strikes close to home…
And put down the pitchforks and torches…
Stop the premature condemnations of the right/left-wing nut jobs-zealots-radicals who are “obviously” responsible.
Whether right or left, the salient word is “nuts.” If this is indeed the cowardly act of a zealot, then condemnation should be directed at that extreme mindset, not at the majority of people who hold a particular political view.
There is nothing radical about people who are dedicated to the original intent and spirit of the founders. Neither is there anything particularly radical about those who are dedicated to social change.
Any radical who attacks innocent people to make a point should be condemned- in every sense of the word.
We’re not there yet…
And don’t assume the person or persons responsible for this attack are nuts.
It is entirely plausible that the perpetrators of this attack are rational people dedicated to some particular cause, nation or ideology. It is dangerous to label such people “nuts.”
Nuts act irrationally. Their actions are difficult if not impossible to predict.
Extremists who are dedicated to a cause may be acting entirely rationally- from their perspective. It requires an entirely different set of tactics to deal with highly-motivated, well-trained militants.
The only appropriate response, in either case, is a considered response…once all the facts are in. That response may be brutal, but must be just and well reasoned.
In this age of Tweets and Facebook posts, everyone has access to a new form of mass media. Anyone can broadcast his most visceral rants to the entire world.
So be it- just remember that others are judging you by your reaction today.
I play a game with my young students to help them focus on what it takes to develop true understanding…
I call out, “Eyes!” They respond, “OPEN!”
Not a bad idea for today…