When you do something for the greater good of others, to make sure they succeed, interestingly you usually do it with a lot more passion, intensity and dare I say ‘oomph’ than when it’s just for yourself. The great Lao Tzu said, “Avoid putting yourself before others, and you can become a leader among men”. That additional element of people depending on you really kicks your altruistic self into gear. That’s where the power of true leadership lies.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my career is that if you want to get anywhere in life you have to understand that you are completely responsible for where you are. You are where you are in your life and career because of the decisions and actions that you have made. The moment you stop blaming others and outside factors such as the industry, the government, the economy or the markets and you start to blame yourself, two fundamental concepts happen. Firstly, you stop making excuses and instead adopt the notion ‘the buck stops with me’ which becomes a very uncomfortable process as frankly it doesn’t make you feel good. This is the beginning of the understanding that you aren’t where you want to be because of you, nobody else. What happens next is the realisation that you have to change the way you think. Secondly, once you’re able to resolve this very personal and uncomfortable position in yourself it becomes an incredibly enlightening experience, as you realise you have the power to change your destiny and consequently, the direction of your career.
As soon as you realise it’s completely down to you there’s a really quite wonderful moment of enlightened inspiration through knowing you can go and achieve what you want to achieve. Going hand in hand with this, you stop letting factors which you can’t control impede your progress. Too often people focus on elements that they can’t control, which absolutely suffocates all decision-making processes. When you understand that you can’t control the uncontrollable, that they are what they are and you need to be able to find a way around them, this is where your potential lies. The power in this knowledge is this – when you focus on what is controllable and how you can control it, all of a sudden, you’re moving forward at a much faster rate than before. Crucially, because you’re not letting the uncontrollable paralyse your progress and instead you’re focusing on what you can control, and so you’re able to move forward as you like.
In addition to the appreciation that the buck stops with you, the next step is to understand how to add value. When you stop thinking ‘what can I get out of this’ or ‘what can I get from this’ and instead start thinking ‘what can I add to this’, your whole perception of life will change. When I go into a business deal, I think to myself ‘how can I add value to these people?’ Similarly, when I’m with my team the last thing I think to myself is ‘what can I get out of this room?’ Rather I’m thinking what do I need to do, what do I need to say and how can I lead in order to give the best outcome I can possibly give them. Essentially, how can I add massive value to the lives and careers of those around me? Words I live by. Because it’s not about me, it’s about everyone else. If they succeed, I succeed; if they fail, I fail. Whether I’m talking to a teammate, selling to a customer or doing a business deal my approach is to question how I can add the most amount of value to this entrepreneur, this human being, this situation. If I approach these situations with a selfish point of view and intend to get the best outcome for myself I’m not going to add lots of value, the customer isn’t going to buy, and they’re not going to succeed. And really in the end, with this approach I actually come off worse. It’s all about being selfless, adding value, understanding that everything comes from you, focusing on what you can control and putting others first.
After all, true leadership is all about these attributes – leading the way, adding value and doing things for others. Improve the way you think, and your life will change for the better.
Keep smashing it,
What I’m listening to:
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho