The clock is ticking.
The days are flying by.
And all you can think is, "Do I have to do _____ again?"
You can fill in the blank. We all have things to do in life that are boring or unpleasant. Yet, we must do them. No matter what role you are in (e.g., employer, parent, spouse, friend, colleague, etc.) there are things that you must do in order to maintain or improve your relationships with others. Certain tasks or obligations, however, are more arduous than others.
The task of leading others is one of the most difficult of our lives. Being a good leader requires great skill. This is especially true when you must motivate people to do something that they do not want to do. You may not recognize all the areas of your life that require you to assume a position of leadership. You lead employees to perform well at their jobs. You lead your children toward internalizing a good value system and achieving their goals in life. You must sometimes lead your spouse or a friend to assist them in making good choices. You even lead yourself when you set and achieve goals for your own life. Actually, it is your ability to lead or motivate yourself that helps you complete mundane tasks (e.g., getting out of bed) throughout the day. No matter which of the five key areas of life* that you consider, each one requires that you somehow serve as an inspirational leader for others at one time or another.
Being a leader requires a significant amount of energy and ingenuity. Others constantly make demands on your time, attention, and resources. For most people, there are numerous occasions when they spend so much time and effort leading, directing, and inspiring others, they forget to save energy to spark the key player on the team: themselves. Has this happened to you? Are you the victim of what I refer to as "Listless Leadership"?
Listless Leadership occurs when you have drained your own resources or allowed them to be drained by others. There is nothing left for you to draw upon within yourself so that you can inspire those around you. You are tired, fatigued, uninterested, indifferent, and basically unexcited about completing the task at hand. You begin to question why you couldn’t delegate a task to someone else, why you are actually struggling to motivate someone else, or if anyone would notice if you don’t do something "just this once." Actually, the answer to the last question is "no." No one will notice if you fail to send a power packed fax, give an uplifting pep-talk, or engage in a meaningful discussion with them – just this once. However, if no one notices, just this once, then there is the tendency to continue to not complete an unpleasant or unpalatable task in the future. More importantly, since any good team adopts or emulates the energy level and spirit of its leader, your team may fall into the doldrums if you are uninspired yourself. Listless Leadership, therefore, can easily become a constant, contagious, and chronic problem.
Can you imagine the effect on a sales staff if the manager unconsciously communicates that it is acceptable to put off making contacts with potential clients until tomorrow? Will most children complete a difficult school assignment if they are left to motivate themselves to do so? How many community service projects would be completed if the organizers didn’t provide any direction and just left it up to the participants to complete a variety of tasks at their leisure? The answers are: disastrous, no, and very few. Suffice it to say that it is very serious and deleterious when any team captain suffers from Listless Leadership.
How do you assess whether you suffer from Listless Leadership? Ask yourself the following questions:
Are you often physically exhausted?
Do events at home and/or work leave you emotionally drained?
Are you able to recognize the achievements of people who look to you for leadership and guidance?
Do you feel that your own efforts or work have gone unrecognized by others?
Are you overly focused on one area of your life? Has accomplishing a particular goal become the core of your existence?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then follow this formula to take the first step transforming your pattern of Listless Leadership into the optimal style for leading others that I call "Luminary Leadership":
If you are often physically exhausted, then you need Plentiful Periods of rest and self-care so you can improve how you function in all the important areas of life.
If you feel emotionally drained and empty, then take the time to replenish your Emotional Energy reserve. People who lack energy live uninspired lives and "just get by" from one day to the next. They are unable to experience emotions in the same way as those who allow for quiet time to center themselves.
If you cannot recognize the good qualities in those around you, then you should examine their conduct and deeds and shower them with Abundant Admiration.
If you feel your efforts or your work are unrecognized or unappreciated, then do not hesitate to tell the people who need to know about the Copious Contributions that you have made.
If you are overlyfocused on a project or a particular area in your life, then it is imperative for you to Expansively Examine the Events and Entities that Enrich your Existence!
What is so special about this combination of positive factors and actions? They will synergistically work together to increase your feeling of inner peace! That’s it my friends. The key to metamorphosing your unproductive pattern of Listless Leadership into the invaluable skills and characteristics of a Luminary Leader is maintaining a sense of inner peace. That inner peace is the foundation upon which your life is built. It is the fountain that replenishes you when your reserves are low. It is the spark within yourself that you will ultimately utilize to ignite others.
Does it seem odd that the key to motivating others is your sense of inner peace? It shouldn’t! Your sense of inner peace is like the keel on a ship. It helps you to remain balanced and steady in the midst of a storm. It gives you confidence that you can make full use of the prevailing winds without fear of capsizing. A strong sense of inner peace also fosters living your life in the present. If you are at peace with your present life, then your future successes will only enhance your sense of peace and feeling of personal satisfaction. It is those people who cannot live in the present who constantly search for things in the future that will make them happy or blame things in the past for their present discontent. They cannot lead others toward success because they cannot even lead themselves.
What does all that have to do with being motivated and motivating others? A sense of inner peace promotes a positive vision of life. That vision makes it possible for you to focus on the positive aspects of any situation and sustain a positive outlook toward life. It will also help you to see interesting possibilities and opportunities as they present themselves to you throughout your life which will expand your feeling of success. Viewing life in positive terms will prompt you to care for your physical and mental health. In fact, it is well documented that a positive outlook and attitude has amazingly beneficial effects on your health. If you are both healthy and at peace with yourself, you will be less likely to drive yourself unmercifully toward unrealistic goals. You will not perceive that other people "have it so much better" because of a particular achievement or possession. Improving your sense of inner peace will empower you to move toward your goals. They will also activate your ability to serve as a catalyst in any situation. You will become the spark that can ignite the fire in others. You will truly be a leader because you will lead others toward success by your own example.
The secret to motivating others is building a solid foundation in your own life. The basis for that foundation is your sense of inner peace and personal satisfaction. Upon that foundation you will build the framework of a diverse, interesting, and satisfying life. The foundation and framework then create an environment in which meaningful relationships at home, work, and in the community can develop and flourish. Being with you will become a pleasant, positive, and motivating experience for others. They will seek to emulate you and look to you for guidance. In that way, you will be a spark. That spark will ignite a chain of events that will improve your life and the lives of those around you. Make the decision today to begin to lay that foundation within yourself and become a spark to those around you. Choose to lead others with a dazzling spark of brilliance rather than with a dull and indifferent collection of directives!
P.S. The concept of Luminary Leadership will be discussed in an upcoming article.
* Please refer to my’s article: "The Personal Pinnacle of Success: Defining Success and Climbing the Mountain on Your Own Terms" at http://www.uncommoncourtesy.com/personal1.htm.
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© 2011 Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D. All rights reserved.
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