Tears swelled behind my diving mask as I stared in awe at a world I was discovering for the first time. My excitement and wonder were uncontainable. In just a matter of days, I went through three distinct phases:
First, I felt like a trespasser underwater – if I was meant to be there, I would have had gills.
Next, I became a welcomed guest who returned to visit its hosts with higher frequency and greater enthusiasm, day after day.
Third, I was finally in complete symbiosis with marine life and enormous pelagic fish that suddenly materialized out of the deep blue in the distance like space creatures from Star Trek.
Six weeks later, I noticed the sudden explosion of a scuba-diving trend in Italy. That is, until I realized the thirteen people responsible for my perception were either friends or acquaintances that I had directly influenced through my Israeli certification experiences in the Red Sea.
I’ve observed that the single most important quality that distinguishes the leader from any other executive is his or her ability to create a following. That’s right. A following. A discerning mind once said, “If there is no one behind you you’re not leading; you’re out on a walk.”
Most of the time, you lead as part of your professional duty. Sometimes, you lead unknowingly. Other times, you don’t lead at all. In each case, the first sale is always to yourself. You won’t get buy-in from others if you don’t have it to begin with. Assuming you had a choice, would you follow you Let’s find out.
Consider four essential elements:
Get Inspired To Inspire
You can’t inspire others unless you are inspired yourself. Unyielding inspiration trumps flavor-of-the-month passions. Commit to finding your highest source of inspiration that ultimately reflects what you truly value. For example, this may be a belief system, your spirituality, a way of living, a teachable point of view, and so on.What you truly value provides definite direction by connecting you to your life’s pursuit and perpetual source of motivation You develop the kind of vision that truly does see around corners as your mind continues to think while you sleep. You become unstoppable — the beacon that beckons those around you near and far. When you’re on fire, you light everyone’s fire!
Define What You Stand For
Do this for your sake and others. A leader spends quality time crafting his/her message, because intrinsic leadership isn’t an official decoration, suit, or title that you don or remove depending on circumstances. Your leadership message is neither content copy nor a slogan that an ad agency can develop for you; rather, it’s a form of authentic self-expression rooted in your highest value. As a result, it reflects your expertise — the unique area in which you create value and improvement. Everyone’s message and focus will be different. Here’s one as an example, which you may have heard me say: “What good is speed if you’re going in the wrong direction?”
Getting clear and communicating the central theme you champion indicates who you are and what you value, in addition to, where you are headed. Would you follow you or someone who was lost Probably not. Independently of your profession, practice, or pursuit, carve in stone what you stand for. What is your message?
Devise An Execution Plan
A goal without a plan is a chimera. Knowing where you’re going or what you’d like to achieve is not enough. Set stretch goals to bridge the present with your future desired state. I like to work in 90-day cycles, and there are four of these in a year. Each 90-day stretch is like being an F16 fighter pilot on an aircraft carrier that must reach take-off velocity in 300 meters or less. Prepare for getting the mission done craft a grand plan and execute it in bursts of 90 days.
Strive For Life Balance
Leadership implies mastery. Mastery of one’s self, craft, and life. As such you don’t have a work life, family life, or social life you have one life, and what you do in one area affects the rest. Sad to say, to unplug is an accomplishment for many. Don’t relinquish command. When you allow yourself to be controlled by a specific portion of life at the expense of another, your plane has just been hijacked! So here are 3 tips to practice for life balance:
Tip #1 – Indulge in self-care, since you can only take care of others to the extent that you take care of yourself. For example, make an appointment with yourself one day a week. Then, schedule yourself into that appointment and make that non-negotiable time.
Tip #2 – Make quality time for loved ones. Family and friends make supreme support systems and are the root of your strength.
Tip #3 – Develop diverse interests. Leaders are objects of interest so give yourself permission to grow in depth and span. After all, life is now and it’s one big balancing act.
Would you follow you? If you wouldn’t, why should anyone else? Remember the first sale is always to yourself. Get inspired, define what you stand for, pursue progress with a grand plan, and strive for life balance. When you do, you will follow you and attract others in your wake. It’s only too late if you don’t start now.