by Keith Clark (An Inspired Writing)
Believe in Yourself
The number one characteristic of being a leader is not only believing in something, it’s also believing in yourself. As we know that all thoughts actually physically create our reality, if you believe you’re a leader – then you are. If you believe that you are not, then you may never be. Nowadays the school of thought and the power of the mind are pretty self-evident, and this has also been proven scientifically and verified by many leaders and successful people. Believing in yourself is the number one building block of a leader.
3rd Time’s a Charm, or 3 Strikes You’re Out?
It is also pretty well known that most leaders and successful people have failed several, if not many times in their life. Failure is a part of the learning process, and it helps build our strength and character. From each failure we learn countless lessons that help make us wiser, make better choices, and ensure that we don’t repeat the same mistakes. Remember the saying: “Third time’s a charm?” What if we said, the second, the fifth, or even the tenth time is a charm? A leader doesn’t limit themselves by a failure, or even believing that more failures means they should quit. They get back up and try again, and eventually they succeed. Knowing that you will succeed, even though you may not know when, is crucial to a leader’s way of thinking.
Believe in the Impossible
If you explain your dream or passion to some people, they may respond with “that’s impossible.” The word “Impossible” is not in a leader’s vocabulary. If someone has the ability to imagine a concept, then it can be created. In essence, it already has. And whether it is fulfilled by themselves or another person, at some point in time, it will become a reality. So don’t be the person that says “that’s impossible.” Saying it is impossible is limiting the potential for creation. Some leaders like to be told things are impossible, it may just drive them more. Often they have been told this, and have prevailed. This may be good motivation, as long as the energy behind that intention is not to prove that person wrong, but to help the leader become more resolute in manifestation of their dream. On the flip side, a leader should never tell someone else that their dream is impossible.
Balance Between Internal/External: As is characteristic of a leader, you may likely do a lot of networking with other people. This is a necessary function of life today, with the immersion in social media, email, and computers. A leader may have followers, but if they stay in their cocoon and nobody knows how they are leading, or what area they are leading in, then they have isolated themselves. In this stage their mission is clear; but it may remain only clear to them. On the other hand, if one were to spend all of their time networking, scrolling down Facebook pages, emailing, and communicating – where is the time left for staying connected to their mission and true to themselves? The answer is the same as it is in all of life – balance. Try to achieve a certain amount of time networking and communicating and a certain amount of time imagining, creating, and refining your mission.
Don’t compare yourself to other people too much. It’s perfectly natural to want to know how other leaders and people are successful, as long as good information is taken away from it, and the focus is not drawn away from yourself. Everyone is different, what works for another leader may not work for you. It’s OK to see what other people are doing to glean helpful information and tactics, but if done too much this may tend to lead you less into being who you are and more into what you think you should be, because that’s how other people are. No two leaders are the same.
What good is a leader that doesn’t listen? What is better, a leader that doesn’t listen to anyone, or a leader that takes other people’s input and applies it to their decision making process? A leader’s role is to make decisions that usually affect other people. If a leader stands on their own, they are more of a dictator than a leader. But, there are two sides to this coin. If a leader follows the advice of everyone, as everyone invariably has a different opinion, how can a decision ever be made? A good leader will take the pros and cons of their counsel into consideration and heavily weigh the consequences and effect each decision will have on their path, and the path of the people assisting them. If a decision will alter the course away from their purpose and the original integrity of their mission then it is not the best decision to make. In these instances a true leader should thank the person giving counsel, let them know their input is appreciated and crucial to team success, and continue to make it known that they are willing and open to accepting the contribution of other people’s ideas.
Be Able to Take Criticism
There isn’t a single person who has been or is a leader that hasn’t withstood their fair amount of criticism. Sometimes we can learn from this criticism, and sometimes it can be crippling. Again, an important strike of balance is key. Can you imagine what it would be like to have your work criticized in public? Maybe your website will be parodied, perhaps a TV interview would be made fun of. Have you ever wondered how the leaders of the world do it? Do they watch the TV shows that make fun of them, do they read the articles that criticize them? I’m sure that many of them do. What tactics do you think they might employ to counteract the natural human reaction to respond in kind? It all comes back to being a leader, and believing in yourself. Besides, if everyone were the same, what kind of diversity would we have in the world? We would all be robots.
A good leader needs to apply patience in several different areas. As they say “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Most dreams aren’t built overnight, they are built over years, by thinking about them, refining them, taking action, and continuing to refine as they go. Patience is a virtue, and a good leader knows that good things take time. Often times leaders are hard on themselves, wishing that they were further along, or that they could see success of their dream instantly. In this case, patience can also be considered as stamina, and persistence. A leader wakes up every day and refocuses on their dream, over and over again, countless times, as this reinforcement is the only thing that will carry them through – especially in the initial stages. Patience and belief in yourself is the only thing that keeps a leader from quitting.
I once heard someone say “Communication is the building block of all relationships, and the reason why most relationships fail.” There is perhaps no statement that rings more true than this one. A good leader communicates. Not only do they have to communicate their vision well and express it in a way that other people can understand it, they also need to figure out ways to convert their vision of the future into something that can be visually conceptualized. It’s very hard for someone to join your effort if they are unsure exactly how they can be a part of it. Face to face is always best, then phone, then email, and then other options. I can’t remember how many times communications have come through over text that didn’t convey the tonal qualities of a voice, and therefore lost the original intention of the message. Which leads us to the next point.
A good rule of thumb for a leader is to never respond too quickly to something that is shocking, or disturbing, or has the ability to affect your emotions. In most cases, it is best to never respond that same day. The best solution, if handled that same day, is to ensure that you are calm, and can talk to the person face to face, or on the phone. Otherwise, taking the extra time to absorb what was said – if used correctly, will ensure that you have considered all the possible reasons and perhaps may even be misunderstanding or misinterpreting the other person. Acting out of a rash response of emotion is never a good thing, and a leader makes it a good practice to contemplate and draft the potential ways in which to approach the situation in an amenable manner before taking action.
Nobody likes a leader who thinks they are better than anyone else. The best leaders lead with humility and understanding of the diversity of all. Some of the most well known leaders such as Jesus and Gandhi lived by example. When people resonate with your expression of understanding and love for all, with absolutely no separation implied between you and them, great things are accomplished. True leaders don’t proclaim or refer to themselves as gurus or experts, though they may allow other people to describe them as being such. A leader is someone that you look up to, a good example in which you see strength, and you find a piece of yourself in them. If you didn’t then you wouldn’t be assisting them with their task – because it would be their mission, not your shared cause. And no leader is an island unto themselves.
….and now for the last but not least, important characteristic of a leader.
Every Good Leader is a Good Follower
Some people are natural born leaders, some it is thrust upon by life conditions, and some gravitate towards it. If a leader has never followed another, then how can they understand the people that “follow” them? How can a leader be one with the people they are leading if they have never been in their shoes? Some can, but in some way they must be fully aware of what it is like to follow or support someone else’s cause, and make it their own. Leaders should make the best followers – Why? Because part of being a leader is inspiring others to become leaders. Inspiration is one of the largest and longest-lasting gifts a person can give to mankind. And supporting someone else’s cause that you resonate with should come more naturally to a leader, because you know what it’s like to be alone on your quest, what it’s like to desire to have other people join you. And a good leader, the one that people love the most, is always one that expresses “I am no different than you.”
Everyone has it within themselves to be a leader. Everyone is passionate about something, many have something that they wish to change or improve in this world or their lives.
From now on, when you think of a dream that you wish to create, perhaps begin by saying “I am a leader.” “Everything is possible.” “I will lead others and also support others whose cause I resonate with.”
This is your true spirit within.