Leadership is an interesting topic. One that I’ve been studying for the better part of eight years. I’ve read dozens of books, lots of research articles, hundreds of blog posts and watched hundreds of videos related to it. The sheer volume of theories and ideas around this topic is numbing.
During that same time frame, I’ve also been on an interesting personal journey. One filled with failure and success, disappointment and joy, sadness and happiness. While some parts of the journey were very personal and private, others were very public. My beliefs and views on many topics have been challenged and things that I once thought certain became obviously wrong.
But wow, has the journey ever been a growing experience.
I’ve come to understand a few things over these years and I wanted to share some of them in a quick, simple blog post:
- The most difficult person to lead is yourself. No doubt about it. Waking up every morning and making the decision to stay true to yourself, whatever that means to you, is tough.
- Failure is inevitable. As researcher Brené Brown says “If you’re brave enough often enough, you’re going to fail; this is the physics of vulnerability.” You have a choice though. If you choose not to try anything new or different, you can stay safe and comfortable. But is that really going to make you happy?
- The only constant in life is change. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, you better brace for change. The number of things that we don’t have any control over is staggering. Many of them will derail even the best of plans or intentions.
- Perfection is unattainable. Stop wasting energy trying to get there. Life is complicated and it’s filled with choices. Choose to pursue excellence. That leaves you some space to be human. Perfection does not.
- Forgive often. Not just others, but yourself. Know that you have and will make mistakes. Everyone does. Get over it.
I believe the two most important aspects of leadership are much simpler than some people would like you to believe.
There is a reason that the field of Leadership Training is a billion-dollar business around the globe. Here are the two things I believe are the most important lessons on leadership:
- The sooner you learn how to get back up when you fall, the happier and more successful you will be. Trust me, I know it isn’t easy. Sometimes the fall is just a couple of feet, sometimes the fall feels like you jumped off the Grand Canyon. Either way, learn from the ways you’ve overcome failure and disappointment in the past and come up with a strategy to help you for the next time.
- Leadership is about relationships. Period. The End.
Leadership is born and bred in the little things. No great leader ever set out to change the world. It happened as a result of small, incremental changes in themselves, their families, their companies or their countries. Don’t let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do.