Eight years ago this month I started my company. It is not a milestone year per se, but if you run your own business you know, every month you are still open is cause for celebration. During this period there have been highs and lows in my personal and professional life. That’s not unique. If you take the time to reflect, you will find the same to be true for you. It’s the nature of things.
I thought I would use this naturally reflective time to review a few of my founding principles, not to be self-indulgent, but to share key tools anyone who is trying to make the world better should have for reference. A personal manifesto, your leadership philosophy, and a story of origin are a few examples. Don’t take mine, but use them as an outline if you are having trouble creating your own.
Today, I will share my leadership point of view. When you share your leadership point of view with others, you give them a better understanding of who you are as a leader and what you stand for. You provide insight on where you are coming from and how you think. Some leaders like to guard that information, which is too bad because it’s not a winning strategy.
There are four philosophies you should know about me. I love the study of leadership. I have high expectations and high hopes for people. I am more interested in strengths than I am in weaknesses. Poor leadership decisions don’t just tick me off; they motivate me to find better ones and to foster the leader within others.
When I was a child, I was ambidextrous. Because I had equal comfort, I often switched between my left and right hands mid-sentence or in the middle of drawing a circle. This behavior befuddled my teachers, so they told me I had to choose a hand because they felt it was interfering with my school work. I picked my left, and that seems congruent with my lifelong habit of choosing the more difficult path.
A few years later my parents got a divorce, (although I don’t think it had anything to do with my hand choice.) My school work suffered anyway, and my teachers felt it would be better to place me in a “slower” class. I don’t know if you remember Resource Centers, beautifully named but socially ostracized places? They put me in a room with other “slow” kids. When we were released to join the rest of the students in easier subjects like art and gym, you could not help but feel like a second class citizen. That went on for about six years, and my mild dyslexia did not help me to feel any better about myself.
I wanted to enter high school without the “help” of the Resource Center. I recall the first grade I received. It was for social studies, and I got a “C” on my assignment. The teacher asked to meet with me after class, and he explained that he had graded me a “C” originally but later received a note from the Resource Center people; I guess I was on some sort of watchlist. He said, if I wanted him to, he could raise it up to a “B” based on their scale. I quickly told him I would take the “C” because how else was I going to improve if I wasn’t held to the same standard as everyone else? He seemed impressed with that, and I was never bothered by the Resource Center people again.
Since then, I have been attracted to the leaders and the creative-minded, who focus on people’s strengths. I learned to intertwine the values of perseverance and creativity from my parents. I do not dwell on life’s hurdles. Instead, I focus on the talents and gifts we have to clear those hurdles.
I have a thirst for making a difference. Using insightfulness and creativity, I am happiest when I can lead and inspire others to maximize their strengths and continuously improve themselves, their organization or our society, by bringing the powers of vision, passion, and action. I believe this helps positively energize our nation and contributes to greater peace, prosperity, fun, understanding, responsibility and liberty in the world. I do this by regularly focusing on four pillars of my mission.
- Make a positive difference in the lives of others.
- Strive to lead and inspire through my words and deeds.
- Maximize the strengths of others by using my own.
- Continually improve and contribute to a “more perfect union.”
I enjoy being an inspiration to people who in turn inspire themselves. I like to help others find their strengths and see what they have to offer our joint endeavor.
I want to help you find your vision or purpose. If you have already found it, that is great. I want to help you clear the obstacles from your path so you can reach your goals, manage better and lead well.
I do this for selfish reasons. I like how it infuses me with energy. It forces me to take my focus off myself, and put it on others, the way a servant leader should. It also gives me the opportunity to combat the damaging effects of lousy leaders, poor influencers, and others who abuse their enormous power either through intent or ignorance.
What does helping bring out the best in people and having a clear goal look like? Think of President John Kennedy and his crazy idea of landing on the moon. He said;
”We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; Because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills; Because that challenge is one that we’re willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone and one we intend to win.”
Humankind had been staring up at the sky for thousands of years wondering about the moon. One day not that long ago, one of us said, let’s do it, let’s go there within ten years — and we did it! A fascinating feat that illustrates that just about anything is possible with vision, passion, action and a deadline.
I like to measure things, less to see shortfalls but instead to see what we are capable of doing and to build our credibility. I love to see the charts and graphs of goals and measurements of success; to see the results of common things in uncommon ways. I used to read American Demographics magazine for pleasure, so that should give you some clues to my nature.
I am in a constant state of learning and application when it comes to leadership. Sometimes this can come across as tinkering, although I prefer the word refinement. Either way, it is with the best of intentions. I focus on strengths instead of weaknesses. Yes, sometimes weaknesses need to be addressed, but to overcome them I discover what can be done, versus what can’t. I lead toward the future not from the past. I measure and monitor with success metrics; managing by fact, not by whimsy.
Here are a few things you can expect from me in our interactions:
- Two questions asked equally often, “Why?” and “Why not?”
- A quest for continuous improvement, to make good things great things.
- Measures for success, setting you up to win.
- The testing of assumptions, tasks, and decisions against the Vision or Objective.
- A greater interest in strengths, not irrelevant weaknesses.
- An abundance mentality that will push you to explore possibilities.
- Irritation with poor leadership decisions, be they my own or others.
And here’s what I expect from you if you want to build a beneficial relationship:
- Be open to new or alternative approaches.
- Ask me, “So what?” or “Who cares?” to keep me focused.
- Give seemingly “crazy ideas” a chance to breathe.
- Support vetted processes that we prove work.
- Give and receive education easily.
- Call BS, BS.
- Have a sense of humor about yourself, the world and me.
I believe everyone has the capacity to become a leader, and it is the responsibility of each of us to identify that particular talent we possess and to pursue it relentlessly.
While you make your mark and decide what you want to be positively remembered for during your time here, know, feel, and act like you make a difference because you do. That is why I am committed to helping talented leaders and artists find the a-ha within, so they can manage better and lead well.
Also published on Medium.