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Leadership

While reading recently, I came across this article written by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale.  It goes along with setting goals and acting on these plans.

WHAT IS LIFE REALLY ALL ABOUT ANYWAY?

by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale

I get a lot of letters from baby boomers saying, “I’ve got it made financially and joy-wise, but I am empty on the inside. What is life all about anyway?”

In my responses, I explain to them that from  all that I’ve learned and observed through these many years, there is a basic justice in the universe.  We get our just deserts and just rewards if we work and think and think and work.

If we are positive—kind, treat others well and lend  a hand—and if we’re fair and enthusiastic, life will respond in kind.  If we’re otherwise, life responds negatively.

The unfortunate attitude of equating life goals with having the most riches has become a common one since World War II.  After that war, it became relatively easy to make money because the whole world had to buy from us.  Americans were milking the country rather than planning for the future.

Unfortunately, living the money-focused life has turned our focus away from community good.  Instead we concentrate on our own self-aggrandizing interests.  And this is causing big trouble on a national scale.

We need to concentrate on doing worthwhile activities—identifying our challenges, large and small, in priority order…identifying their root causes…and then working to solve them.  That will mean giving up immediate pleasures.  But if we don’t voluntarily make these changes now—in the short run—we certainly will have to do it in the long run.

Of course, fun and realization are important…but what  a tremendous waste to expend all of your energies on frivolities when there is so much to be done.

What The Wise Men Say

When I met Mahatma Gandhi, I asked him what life was all about—how to be successful in life.  And he said to me…”By helping people to help themselves.  If you give a poor man  $10 you will feed him for the next meal.  If you teach him how to grow his own food, he becomes an altogether different man.”

Winston Churchill found meaning in his life by relishing every experience-good or bad.  Life is wonderful, he once said. I’ve won some and I’ve lost some, but fighting and winning—and losing—made my life interesting and exciting.  I’m very grateful for it all.”  He led a very full and worthwhile  life.

Henry Ford’s approach was to spend time only with people who brought out the best in him and also to bring out the best in the people around him.  He encouraged forward thinking in his employees-instead of insisting that things be done “the way they’ve always been done.”

When I was young-way back in the early 1900’s—America was dreaming of its incredible future.  Every school teacher, every preacher, every newspaper told us that this was the greatest country ever formed.

And we believed it.  They taught us that salvation came by working and thinking and getting new ideas and being decent, moral and upright.

We need to move back to basics. I’ve learned through the years that anyone who thinks earnestly and sincerely—and then does something about it—gets somewhere.

And how do you get to where you want to go?  You’ve got to plan your work and work your plan.  Important:  Planning for the higher goals and continually adjusting upward.  That’s what life is all about.

ASKING vs. TELLING

While talking to a client about some improvement he was implementing, I was asked a question that comes up all the time.  He felt  that while he agreed that the idea would certainly help his situation, he couldn’t get his staff to implement the change. The reason is Leadership 101.

1.  When we tell people what to do and how to do it, there is a tendency to resist.
2.  The ideas people will support most are the ones they come up with themselves.
3.  Whenever we tell someone how to do something differently, we may convey a subtle negative message that the way they’ve been performing is wrong or not good enough.
4.  Asking people for their input encourages both creativity and buy-in.
5.  The real experts about your organization are your own people, and the management challenge lies in tapping into this wealth of knowledge.

LEADERS

Throughout recorded history, man has been looking for common denominators among leaders, winners, and achievers.  They are not easy to find, but there is one that is common to all great men and women in history.  They all have a mental image – a vivid picture of themselves in the future having already achieved their goal.  They have a dream in their heads.

Intense commitment

They have an intense commitment to what they do and what they want. High achievers call it by different names – a passion, a mission, a purpose, a deep feeling, or a fire in the belly.  They credit their success more clearly to that passion than to aptitude.  More to desire than to knowledge or education.

Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Every calling is great when greatly pursued.”

Need for purpose

Man’s need for meaning and purpose in life is one of the great drives in human nature.  We are built to solve problems, conquer obstacles, and achieve goals.  Those who have none wander in circles.  They find life aimless and boring and are plagued with depression.  They are missing the spark of life.

Rationalization by the unsuccessful

One of the miracles of the mind is its ability to rationalize almost anything.  Unsuccessful people, without exception, have reasons to explain their lack of achievement.  Repeated often enough, they come to believe and feel comfortable with their excuses.  In time, their excuses become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Since we have the ability to change the causes, we can change the effects.  If we wish our lives to be different in the future, we have to change the causes in the present.  Life doesn’t care who succeeds and who fails – it’s up to you.  Success is not a pie with only so many slices to go around.  So called “luck” is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.  Success comes not from being dealt a good hand, but in playing well the cards you have.  Most of history’s greatest achievements were made by people who were dealt poor hands.

We can, we should, and we must accept the responsibility for our own destiny.

Only a few are willing to invest the time and effort to excel.  For most the vision is blurred.  They cannot see the road ahead.  But, good communicators can touch and  change the lives of people.  They can redirect the future of their practices.  You can be one of them.

Twenty years of study by Dr. Charles Garfield as documented in 318 pages of his book “Peak Performers” concludes that peak performers are:

Not born—they are made.

Not superhuman with special talents—but average people like you and me.

Not workaholic—but they are committed to results, not activities.

In every challenge of life, you will confront a line of resistance where you may decide that the possible success is not worth  the irritation.  You reach that line of resistance because you will experience stress.

Nevertheless, while stress can break you, stress also can make you more resilient and stretch you.  Gradually, a difficult challenge becomes easier and maybe, after a while, even effortless.

Decide in which part of your practice you may need to confront resistance and become more resilient.

LEADERSHIP LESSONS

Most doctors are under so much day-to-day pressure that they lose sight of the importance of cultivating their personal leadership skills, as well as those of the people with whom they work.  In a business climate increasingly reliant on effective coaching, strong communication, and continuous personal growth, this oversight is less and less affordable.

To cultivate your leadership potential, you must concentrate on your strengths, empathize with others, and learn from today’s great leaders.

BUILD ON STRENGTHS

Start by identifying your strengths.  That’s not always easy in a world where weaknesses are all too often pointed out.  But take some time regularly to list your strengths, and ask a friend or two to add to your list.  You may be surprised at how many assets you actually have.

It’s a simple but effective exercise.  Reason:  As every successful person knows, you must be self-confident in order to interact with others the way effective leaders do.  You must also interact with people on their level, speaking on subjects of interest to them.

If you’re preoccupied with your weaknesses, it’s nearly impossible to listen effectively or see a situation from someone else’s point of view.

Once you identify your strengths, work to improve them even further.

CAUTION: Don’t attempt a big improvement in ability.  Instead, start by asking yourself, “How can I be 1% better tomorrow than I was today?”

Classic example:  Arthur Ashe.  Many young tennis players don’t reach their potential because they try to do too much in life.  Ashe was wiser.  Early in his career, he learned to establish incremental goals.  He would go into a match with the goal of making just one or two fewer unforced backhand errors than the previous match.

That was an achievable goal, and when it was reached, Ashe was able to build on his self-confidence.  That strength of course, took him to Wimbledon and later to a leadership position beyond the realm of sports.

MOTIVATING OTHERS

Once managers ruled with a bull whip—-figuratively and sometimes literally.  Now the key in business—as well as in the home—is being able to motivate without threats or cajoling, but rather with constructive coaching.

Great leaders are expert motivators, and they do it by making the people around them feel important.  If you show people that you trust and respect them, you’ll nearly always be able to motivate them.

The most effective way to show this respect is by listening.  A good listener is quick to  ask questions that show a genuine interest in what the speaker is saying.

Example: ABC’s Hugh Downs.  His sincere interest in what his guests are saying along with his genuine respect for people makes him a superlative reporter because people open up to him and want to share information with him that they may not share with others.

There’s no single listening technique that works for everyone, but in general, lean slightly forward when the other person says something interesting.  And when he pauses, ask a question that closely follows what he just mentioned.

Follow up good listening with asking the opinions of  those you want to motivate…and, if possible, including them in your decision-making process.

Through listening, of course, a leader learns things that bypass many of those around him.  The boss with the bullwhip, for instance, never really learned how his business operated.

Paul Fireman, chairman of Reebok, builds on this motivating technique by being a leader who takes risks.  His purpose is to inspire others to be creative, an effort that has paid off spectacularly at his company.

THE POWER OF ENTHUSIASM

Leaders also have a unique appreciation of the power of enthusiasm.  Without enthusiasm, you can’t sell a product or an idea.  And without that ability, the odds  are long against achieving success in business or your personal life.

By enthusiasm, we mean someone who compliments people at every opportunity.  At the same time, enthusiastic leaders also encourage those around them to do better each day.

The most effective way to build personal enthusiasm is to surround yourself with upbeat people.  It might sound simple, but in today’s high-pressure work, we often forget the infectious nature of enthusiasm.

In fact, the technique works.  MaryLou Retton  improved her training by avoiding people who were complainers or who had a negative out-look on life.

If you want to be an enthusiastic person, surround  yourself with enthusiastic people.  When you’re discouraged or depressed, talk to someone who’s positive and upbeat.  If there’s no one at hand, make a phone call.  You’ll know you’re on the right track when others start phoning you.

Enthusiasm is a quality business people often overlook when they hire employees.  But as all leaders know, it’s essential to a productive office.

(MA)