In the things that truly matter, give your best.
Don’t just meet spec. Go beyond.
If you are willing to do that, you might just do something remarkable.
You are better than that.
I learned this lesson from a leader who mentored me ages ago.
We would bring together volunteers to serve at a local men’s homeless shelter.
The fun job was to cook and serve the men a warm meal.
The worst job was to clean the bathrooms and make them spotless. That is where Geno (the leader) chose to volunteer and he always brought me (his mentee) along for the ride.
The job stunk (pun intended).
But it taught me an essential leadership lesson. Be willing (and actually do from time to time) the job you expect of your people.
I model behavior all the time in the mastermind, hoping to inspire and challenge the leaders I serve.
I also model via the podcast and blog.
How powerful would it be, if you not only announced your goals to those you serve, but also communicated your results … in public?
I also chose this quote because Step 2 reminds us of the importance of community.
The #1 enemy of excellence is isolation. Leaders falsely believe they need to do it all on their own. Not according to this quote.
Get curious and bring others on the journey with you.
The principles of Stoic philosophy help us here:
- Control our perceptions
- Direct our actions properly
- Accept what is in and out of our control
Tunnel vision will harm your leadership.
Surrounding yourself with “Yes-men,” reading similar books, spending too much time on social media is problematic because they feed you all the same info.
Before long you are leading in a bubble … and all bubbles burst.
A guaranteed way to lead at a high level is to eliminate blind spots.
Your family, friends, and staff probably won’t tell you when you have spinach in your teeth. We will.
I play on this idea when creating content:
I have a download on my website called “The Blueprint for School Success.”
But there is no roadmap, blueprint, or secrets.
Now, I’m not a salesman selling snake oil. I’m a marketer. I am a leader. I make change happen.
I know the human brain gets excited when they read words like this.
Once I can capture your interest, I can teach and serve you.
Once I have your attention, we can make change happen.
The roadmap, blueprint, and secret system will share powerful information packaged in a way that will help you level up.
But the info is only 20-30% of the puzzle.
There is a knowing-doing gap.
If there was a leadership manual it would state these four truths:
- Learn from a multi-disciplinary approach (more tools = more solutions).
- Action is better than knowing and talking.
- Radical self-inquiry sets apart the best leaders from the average ones.
- Every great leader has a community that supports her and helps her lead grounded in reality.
You can achieve some remarkable results for a limited amount of time.
To consistently show up at your best, leaders need to embrace the inner journey.
Not only is it important to understand what motivates you, but also be aware of your faults, your fears, what takes you off your game.
Steven Pressfield calls the inner critic “The Resistance.” We all have that voice that tells us we are stupid, not good enough, etc.
If we listen to that voice, we play it safe.
Playing it safe too long and we forget why we’re playing the game at all.
What helped you rise in the ranks often gets in the way of leadership because it is no longer about you. It’s about the team.
Rising to the rank of leader may have come easy to you, maybe not.
What I can assume is that you are a hard-worker and tend to do well if you choose to. For this, you’ve been recognized and promoted to the position of leader.
Being recognized feels good. It’s nice to hear how wonderful you are.
But now that you are a leader, it’s about your team. Recognize them.
The best leaders are able to “see” and” hear” their people.
Not only did Dr. Seuss change the kid’s book industry with Green Eggs and Ham, he also modeled an important leadership trait.
Like Geisel, we will experience challenges and “constraints” in leadership.
Maybe we serve a lower socio-economic community. Often we see this as a constraint. Schools blame the lack of family involvement or poverty for their lackluster results.
Again, it’s easy to play the victim.
But if you are willing to take ownership …
If you are willing to look at the constraint and use it to propel you toward excellence …
Then you are making change happen. You are a transformer. You are a Ruckus Maker.
This quote is a favorite of mine for two reasons:
- It challenges the leader to consider her privilege.
- It challenges the leader to take action.
So a final challenge at the end of this post:
As a thought experiment: think about what would make for the worst day ever at work or in life. Taken seriously, you should now be a bit better prepared for this calamity and more importantly, enjoy the added benefit of perspective and gratitude.
Then, take one of these quotes from today’s post. Meditate on it.
Write for 10-15 minutes about what it means to you.
Establish one action step that you can take as a result of the quote. What is the pearl of wisdom hidden in the quote? What action can you take that would help you level up?
Your leadership matters.
Take action today and everyone will win.
Quotes featured in this post come from the following books:
- Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
- Mediations by Marcus Aurelius
- The Great Mental Models by Shane Parrish
- Reboot by Jerry Colonna
- The Inner Game of Tennis by Time Gallwey
- Dare to Lead by Brené Brown
- A Beautiful Constraint by Morgan and Barden
- Linchpin by Seth Godin
- Measure What Matters by John Doerr
- Letters from a Stoic by Seneca