As a lifelong student of leadership, I spend a lot of time seeking out ideas, opinions and perspectives that stretch my understanding and challenge my assumptions about what it takes to succeed as a leader in today’s dynamic, fast-paced world. One of the philosophers I’ve come across in my journey of exploration is Ayn Rand. I’m particularly fond of this quote:“Man’s mind is his basic tool of survival. Life is given to him, survival is not. His body is given to him, its sustenance is not. His mind is given to him, its content is not. To remain alive he must act and before he can act he must know the nature and purpose of his actions.”
These wise words highlight something common to each of us. Namely, we are created as unique individuals who share a desire to lead lives of purpose, meaning and significance. And though no two people’s journey is exactly alike, we all strive to make our mark on the world. We want our presence to be felt.
We need to know we’ve made a difference.Add a comment
Richard Shulze will never forget the tornado that forever changed his life. A successful businessman who owned and operated a chain of high-end, very profitable electronics stores in the upper Midwestern United States, life was good for Richard. Actually, it was great. But in a matter of minutes, his well-ordered world was turned upside down as a fierce storm ripped though his town, severely damaging his largest store and warehouse containing the bulk of his inventory.
In the blink of an eye, a thriving business was reduced to rubble. Ambitious dreams quickly transformed to painful realities. And as is often the case when unexpected change descends upon us, Richard was left with a choice. He could allow his fear, anger, and disappointment about the situation at hand to dominate his thoughts and dictate his decisions. Or he could choose to embrace his circumstances and discover what treasure might be hidden, invisible in plain sight, amidst the ruins of his former reality.
Once upon a time, there was a man who strayed from his own country into the world known as the Land of Fools. He soon saw a number of people fleeing in terror from a field where they had been trying to reap wheat. “There is a monster in that field!” they told him. He looked and saw that it was nothing more than a watermelon. He quickly called out to them, “Fools!” “Can you not see that this is a harmless plant that can do you no harm?” Tilting his head in disgust, he turned and left these “natives” who could not distinguish between a “monster” and a simple vegetable.
Soon, another man made his way to the Land of Fools, where he too soon encountered a number of people fleeing in terror from a field where they had been trying to reap wheat. “There is a monster in that field,” they told him. He too looked and saw that it was nothing more than a watermelon. So, trying to be helpful, he offered to kill the “monster” for them. Taking out his knife, he cut the melon from its stalk and proceeded to slice and eat it. To his amazement, the people became more terrified of him than they had been of the “monster.” They instantly drove him away with pitchforks crying, “He will kill us and eat us next, unless we get rid of him!”Add a comment
The magic of role modeling is that it works at any age, in any place, and at any time. As human being possess a natural tendency to want to make things easier when facing the discomfort associated with change, role modeling actually helps alleviate this burden as sociologists confirm the first place we look to determine how we should respond when facing unfamiliar circumstances is to others. In fact, we not only routinely learn what to do by watching those around us, we also learn what not to do, when to do it, and what to expect when we do it.Add a comment
The great philosopher Aristotle once said, “You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind, next to honor.” Yet courage is something more than a quality of the mind. It is more fundamentally, a condition of the heart.
Let me explain.
From a Western perspective, the heart is a mechanical pump that transports blood first to the lungs, then on to the rest of the body. We routinely refer to this process as oxygenation. When the heart stops, death ensues. However, in Chinese medicine, the heart is far more than a muscle fulfilling a required task for physical survival. The heart is actually deemed the emperor: the leader of the entire body. It is the irreplaceable organ that rules all aspects of our being: physically, mentally, and spiritually.Add a comment