There is certain randomness to a natural disaster which is hard to explain. Sure, we have weather forecasters who are diligent about keeping us informed, but even they can’t predict where the damage will be worst and who will be the most affected. People on opposite sides of the same street can have completely different experiences. I’ve seen pictures where a tornado wipes out one house and leaves the one next to it completely untouched. I imagine that when you are one of the unfortunate victims of these events you struggle a long time understanding why you were the unlucky one. The truth is it could have been any one of us.
Month: October 2012
Far too many people think that leadership is about style over substance these days. It’s almost as if it is more important to look and sound like a leader rather than behave like one. I wonder if historical figures like Abraham Lincoln with his high pitched nasally voice ad physical awkwardness or George Washington who was personally aloof and somewhat stiff in public settings would even stand a chance today. When a society starts spending more time focusing on how things appear rather than how they truly are, we as a people are in trouble. It is the content of someone’s character that matters most when tough decisions need to be made. We are in serious times both geopolitically and socioeconomically. We need deliberative thinkers who think before they act, don’t rush to judgment, have the ability to prioritize amongst competing issues, stay cool under pressure, maintain a reasonable level of consistency in their actions and messaging, build alliances rather than make enemies, and tell us the truth even when it is unpopular. The presidency shouldn’t be just a popularity contest.
Leadership can be hard, challenging and humbling, but it should also be fun and rewarding. It should give you energy not just take it. If you are in a constant state of stress and/or unhappiness, you should really ask yourself what’s wrong with what you are doing. It is a genuine privilege to lead others. In almost all cases, assuming the mantle of leadership is a choice. Rarely is it forced upon you and even when it is you should learn to embrace the opportunity because the alternative makes no sense.
Life is about habits and behaviors. All time represents is a series of moments and actions stitched together that seemingly always exist in the present. We can reflect on what we have done in the past, think about what we may do in the future, but we can really only ever control now. Part of my job is observation. Sadly, my best case study is often myself when it comes to areas of needed improvement. I never cease to amaze myself with what I consciously do wrong and regret later although I am getting better. I am also certain my human experience isn’t unique. You may catch your self doing some of the following things over the course of any given day that inhibit rather than promote feelings of self-satisfaction and happiness:
Several years ago one of my Vistage groups was lucky enough to have Dr. Randy Peeters come speak to us about personal core purpose. Few people have accomplished what this very humble and understated man has done in his life. In his presence you get the sense that you are around a man at peace with his human existence and not victim to the same self-imposed boundaries that most of us put up in our own lives. He is a textbook example of pushing the envelope on what’s possible and using your time here on earth effectively. I was very affected by my time with him and share my own core purpose and personal priorities developed because of his presentation. Hopefully this example with stimulate similar activity on your end:
I don’t remember growing up in a fearful society, but I feel like I live in one now. All you have to do is turn on the TV, listen to the radio, read the newspaper and eventually someone will be trying to scare you about something. We all seem so emotionally fragile and quick to identify an enemy or cause for our concern. The news media has perfected this art so well that they have helped to perpetuate a more neurotic generation in a time when just about every violent crime statistic is down significantly or at minimum on par with what existed when we were children (and our population has grown significantly during this time). As the saying goes, if it bleeds than it leads.”
A strange thing happens to us as we age. We become more risk adverse and less open to the learning and growth possibilities abundant in life. We get set in our ways and habits. Our worldview becomes fixed. We are less willing to challenge our own perspective and very judgmental of others who disagree with whet we think. We tend to look backwards not forwards on social issues. The past gets sentimentalized while the future is rife with doubt and uncertainty. We are skeptical that the younger generation has what it takes to solve the problems that ironically enough our generation created. We become closed rather than open to possibility.