There is nothing wrong with having strong opinions but always remember this doesn’t mean you are right. There is a difference between a fact based opinion and experiential opinion. In one case you are actually using hard facts and objective data to state you position. In the other case, you are relying more on subjective experience and personal beliefs to make your point. The dangerous thing about experiential opinions is that they are grounded solely on the personal filters of the advocate. They are also based on a singular and usually somewhat stunted view of reality. Being louder and more passionate about something will certainly garner attention, however, once again this doesn’t mean you are right and very often means you are rude, close-minded and/or a poor listener.
Naturally, so much of what we read about leadership and personal development is focused on us and how we can improve as an individual. There is no shortage of resources or ideas that one can adopt and apply to their own lives. I’m happy that for anyone who is interested in living a meaningful life that there is a bevy of material at their disposal. What I sometimes find missing in this quest for self-improvement is a focus on the other people in your life. We can spend so much time looking inward that if we are not careful we will miss opportunities to reach outside of ourselves to make a real difference. It is never just about you.
I’ve always like the idea of new beginnings. My mom used to say that every person has 4 seasons to their lives and each one is an opportunity to reinvent yourself and use the wisdom gained up until that point to make better decisions. As I age, I understand more of what she meant. I also believe that within these seasons there are natural changes such as completing your schooling, getting married (maybe more than once), having kids, becoming a homeowner, embarking on a career, being at the peak of your career and having responsibility for other people, caring for aging parents, having your own kids move out and start their own lives, becoming a grandparent, retirement from work and navigating our “golden years” that just seem to happen and lead to new beginnings. I do respect the fact that not everyone opts for all these changes but for the most part they are common experiences shared by most of us.
We all reach a point where we have to make decisions based on imperfect and sometimes even contradictory information. There is no “perfect” decision. Whether it is who we hire, when we enter new markets, how much to invest in new products and technologies, when to expand or contract a business relationship, or any other number of issues, leadership ultimately comes down to judgment. In addition, in our personal lives we will all hit crossroads, where the decisions we make will literally have an impact on the rest of our lives. There is always the risk you may make the wrong decision, but you try to mitigate this risk through sound judgment.
Emotions aren’t bad they just need to be appropriate to the situation and managed accordingly. In my experience, people often won’t trust or have other concerns about a leader or colleague who is devoid of emotion and seemingly stoic in all situtaions.
What you decide to focus your energy on is a choice. Even in the most difficult of situations there is a potential “silver lining” if you are looking hard enough.
Always make non-work time for yourself, even if it’s in bits and pieces. Everyone should strive to be multidimensional and explore all aspects of who they are and what they enjoy. Both breadth and depth are important in the development of any leader.