What Leadership Is All About
Descartes Is Right
We think therefore we are. Before anything manmade can exist on this Earth, it first existed as a thought or idea in a person’s head. This is true for our awe-inspiring creations such as the pyramids, as well as for the abhorrent structures such as the Nazi concentration camps. In much the same way, the thoughts we entertain, imbibe, and develop in our minds eventually create the life we live and the world we live in.
However, one might counter: what about the things that we don’t think about or intend to happen? There are people who think about walking carefully across the street and actually look both ways before proceeding, but they still get hit by a car anyway. There are people who think only of having a good time at a bar but end up having a sedative slipped into their drink. Indeed, it is true that things do happen to us that are beyond our control, but nevertheless, it is our thoughts that determine our response to our circumstances and ultimately, the results of that response.
This is why so much focus is given to core character traits whenever effective leadership is explored. Different leaders can amass many different things that make them stand out from other people, be it wealth, friends, and influence, but these are merely results – what people are most interested in is what brought about those results in the first place. Through the years, what people learn is that positive mindsets and qualities are what bring about the results that they desire in their lives.
Who Do I Want to Be?
Before asking ourselves questions such as “What do I want to have,” we’ll serve ourselves better by first asking ourselves “Who do I want to be” and “What qualities do I want to have as a person?” Or rather, we can reframe our question so that we ask ourselves what type of person we have to be in order get what our heart desires. To illustrate, if a person desires more wealth, that person can explore her motivations and discover that what’s holding her back is the thought that she’s unworthy of success or should be ashamed of having abundance. Therefore, she needs to discover her worth, of why she is deserving of happiness. At the root of her heart, what she wants to be is to be a worthy woman.
For other people, what they want is not financial freedom, but rather freedom from the pain of being victimized. To illustrate, there are many cases wherein rape victims blame themselves for being sexually abused. In their minds are thoughts such as ‘my skirt was too short,’ ‘I got myself too drunk,’ ‘I didn’t fight back hard enough,’ or ‘I shouldn’t have given my consent at the start to begin with.’ In extreme cases, victims turn to alcohol or drugs to escape their pain and shame. However, there are those who realize that running away always reaps the same results, and that they have to make different choices in order to get different results. To counter their fear of shame, they choose to be brave in confronting themselves and their abusers. They choose to be forgiving towards themselves by seeing that despite whatever misgivings they had, they deserve to be treated with respect, never with abuse. For these individuals, who they want to be is to be courageous and forgiving people.
Leaders Have the Core Qualities that People Want for Themselves
Indeed, there are more positive leadership qualities than what has been mentioned thus far. For instance, Mother Teresa, Gandhi, and Pope Francis are powerful leaders because of their care and compassion towards other people. Individuals who exude confidence effortlessly such as Jonathan Van Ness of Netflix’s Queer Eye shine brightly because they embrace their worthiness, are completely honest with themselves, and have joy in their hearts. People who are experts in their fields, be it in music, engineering, medicine, or any other field are placed on pedestals because of their openness to new ideas as well as excellence and passion in what they do. It is no wonder that success and leadership have an equivalency: one might not know a successful person as an individual, but one ends up being attracted to the core quality that that person embodies. And the more one learns about how that successful person overcame her circumstances, the more one is inspired to be more like that successful person. At the end of the day, leaders are leaders because they give others the permission to be who they want to be, the power to say yes to their worth and yes to their purpose. Empowering people – this is what leadership is all about.