If I had a nickel for every word I’ve read, heard or spoken about Leadership I’d be retired many times over except for the fact that leaders never retire! So what is so hard about this topic that it is always at the forefront of talk radio, bestseller lists, and sermons? I think one of life’s greatest challenges, if not life’s greatest challenge, is how to quit acting and start being. There will come a time when we need to stop reading and talking about leadership and start being leaders.
Throughout my career I’ve been told to act like an officer, act like a manager, and act like I’m in charge. Dress the part, walk the walk, talk the talk…quack like a duck. While these ancillary aspects have some value, they are not the price you must pay to start being a leader.
Leadership is that something bought with a price that can be paid for by anybody, anytime, anyplace. You are as much of a leader today as you are ever going to be because the price you are paying today is determining the kind of leader you are going to be tomorrow.
So what you are doing at this very instant is determining what type of leader you will be tomorrow. And since you are reading a blog on leadership…TREMENDOUS!
There is something all of us are good at and, if we do it diligently, will lead at. We all have an obligation to lead at something. You do not need a title, endowment, or even personality to be a leader. You know what you need to be a leader? Simple: willingness; Willingness to do what others do not want to do because it is too hard, too scary, too unpopular, or too risky.
I asked my father what price he paid for leadership and he said, “Loneliness, weariness, abandonment and vision.” What?!? Maybe he misunderstood my question? I was thinking more along the lines of title, prestige, power, and salary!!
But he was right. While everyone encounters loneliness in their lives, he was talking about the loneliness you choose, the loneliness that comes to the person who says I’m going to do this. I’m going to make my mark; I’m going to set the pace. This is where I’m going to make my stand. This is what I’m going to contribute. Regarding the price of Weariness, I had certainly experienced that firsthand. One of the greatest things in life to learn is that life isn’t for riding, life is for being on the way, and the person who is learning how to “get started getting started” has passed one of the great crossroads of his life. I came to understand what he meant about Abandonment. An awful lot of time is wasted worrying about how to make the right decision that will never be made. But you can learn how to get started getting started, make a decision and then go on making it right. You made the decision, now make it yours! And vision: Vision entails coordinating the talents of others and leading them towards a particular goal. This is the final price that a leader must pay to achieve their aspirations.
Leadership is not glamorous; it’s more like trench warfare. As you’ve seen, it carries a high price and most people you encounter along this path will not pat you on the back and salute you at each step of the way. In fact, the opposite will occur. But the process of honing and purifying your character and the multitude of lives you will touch in the process makes you wonder why everyone does not pay the price of leadership.
Are you willing to pay the price of leadership?
Thanks so much Tony! Here’s to the proud, the daring, the living. You put it so well, when I reflect back on earning my “stripes” and all the discipline that entailed…that is really what life is all about. I wouldn’t, nor couldn’t, life any other way.
Wow! Just wow … That was a powerful article. From my experiences, it is very true. Actually, not just “very,” but completely.
You wrote that what is needed to be a leader is the “willingness to do what others do not want to do because it is too hard, too scary, too unpopular, or too risky.”
That is in-line exactly with what I call my Second Axiom (yes, not law, not rule, but AXIOM) of success:
“Successful people do the things that other people are either unwilling or unable to do.”
And that is never so obvious the case when it is applied to leadership. Your father was right: choosing to lead results in “loneliness.” It’s tiring. It more often than not sucks.
But it is also those very same items that make it all worth while. Far too often, we — all of us — look for the fruits of success that taste good, that feel good; in doing so, we often overlook the fact that the ones that don’t feel all that good are more often than not the ones that make us into who we are: the proud, the daring, the living.
All the BEST!
Have fun … Tony.
Thank you Mike!
Great job Tracey.
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