Monday September 23, 2013
A quick review: Many leaders have a gap between their current realities personally and professionally and the results they want to produce for themselves, their families, organizations and communities. My approach to “closing the gap” involves a deeper understanding and practice of three key qualities – awareness, responsibility and communication. In Part One we explored the gaps; in Part Two we looked deeply into developing an enhanced state of noticing, greater awareness.
Once I’ve gained new insights through greater awareness, taking personal responsibility enables me to produce dramatically improved and tangible results in my life.
This, in turn, creates a virtuous circle, leading to more self-confidence, which leads to even more extraordinary personal and business leadership results. The moment that I stop blaming the circumstances of my life, attributing any lack of accomplishment to fate or bad luck or age or education, I begin seeing myself in the driver’s seat of my own life.
And as I become aware of my choices and their impact on the world around me, I begin to realize that I am fundamentally responsible for the circumstances of my life. By accepting responsibility for the way things are, I become more able to intentionally respond and create the results I want.
Our character springs from the willingness to accept responsibility for our own life and it’s the source from which true self-respect is built. In my experience, that’s absolutely true. Responsibility is at once powerful and empowering. It begins the instant I’m willing to give up my victim point of view. Simply put, this requires I stop blaming others – my wife or former wife, my parents, my boss, or even my dog – for the way my life is.
More importantly, and the hardest of all perhaps for many of us, responsibility means I stop blaming myself. Though it seems paradoxical at first, there is tremendous freedom in owning all of my results, even the ones I don’t like and especially the ones I resist owning.
Real responsibility does not mean I feel guilty or ashamed or obligated or burdened. It means I’m no longer waiting for someone or something outside of me to change or fix my life. I’m the one who is making it happen.
Even well-educated, successful people subtly or not so subtly avoid responsibility. We pay for doing that, and how to transform our experience of living is by simply taking 100 percent personal responsibility for our lives. And remember, quoting from my book Living an Extraordinary Life, “life is simple. This does not mean it is easy.”
Once I’m operating from personal responsibility, communication becomes the critical consciousness and skill for living an extraordinary life and becoming an extraordinary leader. All of life’s important results are generated in communication. If I communicate authentically, appropriately, and with passion, my communications will be effective in forging powerful relationships with others and in amplifying the effectiveness of my choices in life and in work.
Communication is what holds every relationship together, in personal, corporate, and community life, and it keeps things moving. It’s the engine of accomplishment.
There are clear differences between leaders who accomplish extraordinary results and those who don’t. Each one faces the real circumstances served up by life and business. Each has dreams. The difference is that those people who accomplish much lift their circumstances up to their dreams through awareness, responsibility, and communications.
Others lower their dreams to fit their circumstances. It follows that in everything I do, if I really want to succeed, I must articulate my needs and my vision in order to create the possibility for having my reality match my dreams. This demands that I master the art of communication.
John Donne said, “No man is an island, entire of himself; every man is a piece of the continent.”
It’s a powerful statement. It’s worthy of some reflection and quite true. You can accomplish very little alone. Almost everything you want to be, do, or have is dependent on your ability to communicate effectively with others. You may need to gain support for your ideas, generate a true partnership and service of a worthy goal, or overcome opposition. That’s assuming you’re living a commitment to extraordinary leadership.
If you sincerely want to escape from the ordinary, realize your dreams, and live an extraordinary life, you need to master the personal tools of awareness, responsibility, and communication. That’s not just my opinion; it’s more like gravity – it’s the way things are.
Around the beginning of the 20th century, psychologist William James said, “The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude of mind.”
Earl Nightingale quoted James in his Lead the Field program more than 30 years ago, and 100 years later at the dawn of a new millennium, James’ statement is just as true, and, ultimately, attitude is much of what my work is about. It’s a key foundation piece in the adventure of living an extraordinary life.
Creating an attitude that works is much more than just thinking positively.
It requires attention to a deeper part of ourselves than can be gained by just listening to a motivational speaker or reading the latest book. It requires the sometimes challenging work of gaining a new level of self-discovery, self-understanding, self-acceptance, and audacious self-declaration.
It’s our experience that truly extraordinary results are created by people who know their purpose for living, have a compelling vision that draws them to accomplishment, and are clear about their personal values, those bedrock qualities of being and doing that must always be practiced.
And, finally, extraordinary results are created by people who take action, action in alignment with their purpose, vision, and values. It’s a powerful mental model that, when followed, produces brilliant results for people and organizations. In today’s uncertain times, it’s a model we all need to internalize and follow.