By Tramayne Monaghan.
‘No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent.’ – Abraham Lincoln
Leadership needs to be earned over time. Leadership cannot be demanded or taken. While you do not need permission to step forward and lead, earning followers is based on their consent. To take the step is not enough. The threshold is a part; the journey is the crux. Leaders lead by the desire and willingness of those around them to trust. It is a privilege to act as a potential role model with their platform. Leaders have the opportunity to be listened to as well as grow those around them.
That person who helps others only because it should or must be done, and because it is the right thing to do, is trustworthy without a doubt – a real superhero. If you lead, you are lucky to be in the spotlight where you can mould and focus people’s potential into a new way of being. The real privilege is found in leading for others, not for yourself. Leading is the privilege.
‘Earn your leadership every day.’ – Michael Jordan
Everything is a journey. The hero must take the steps required, setting the framework. Make a move and continue moving. Inertia is something that haunts average humans. The fear of taking steps forward, often into uncomfortable spaces, paralyses and consumes people. If you, as a leader, are determined to grow, keep moving. Cross the threshold time and time again, meet your Beast and thrive. Inertia is a weakness for some, apathy for others. With a mindful and constructive eye, one must always look inside themselves to identify shortcomings. The journey is only against yourself. It is not a race. The only comparative image should be the snapshot of yourself on your last trip. Have you changed? Have you grown? You are your competitor and benchmark. The tortoise never beat the hare in that race; the hare lost to himself. He was slower and lazier than he was yesterday. That is a loss. The tortoise was more determined than he was yesterday. That is a victory. You are your foe. The journey never ends; the world always needs more robust and more experienced leaders. Defeat yourself to win.
‘Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.’ – Marcus Aurelius
We are all such unique and diverse people who have lived a multiverse of differing lives. To say no two people are the same is an understatement that can be laughable at best and utterly stupid at worst. If we all have unique DNA and live lives with a billion decision trees, the probability of understanding one human being entirely is zero. If it is that hard to understand someone, why would we want to be anyone other than we are? Why would we assume to know what people want to see in us and try to be that? We fail every time. And in failing, we lose our teams, and we become unhappy. Being a leader demands a level of authenticity that is built into you. You have to say what you mean and mean what you say. A leader can only act for a finite period before being caught out. Even psychopaths need to change cities often enough for fear of their masks being pierced and the real horrors known. But being human is hardly sexy. We are unbalanced, subject to our emotions and at the mercy of our lizard brains. As a leader, feed me the truth, no matter how scary it is. We cannot solve a problem together if we don’t know what it is. The scariest part is being surrounded by yes-people who blind you and conceal things until it blows up in your face. Trust your team with who you are, and they will trust you with their souls. Authenticity is not pretty.
‘You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.’ – Friedrich Nietzsche
Life has so many potential outcomes. It is unpredictable and filled with uncertainty. We know this, we see this, and yet we fight the chaos. As a species, we search for order in a pantheon of turmoil. Our brains crave it to create more manageable ways to conserve energy – remember cognitive biases? Scientifically, there is a relationship between chaos and order. They seem opposed, but there is a delicate equilibrium in their relationship. Chaos Theory shows us that chaos can be a precursor to order. This is visible all the time. Nature creates dispersions of energy and disorder as a mechanism to create equilibrium. Nature needs to diffuse energy in the most efficient way, and order is made as a result. Think about a lightning storm; the electrical charge in the atmosphere increases to unmanageable levels. Nature creates thunder and bolts of electricity aimed at the earth as a rescue device. How calm does the world feel after a violent and chaotic thunderstorm? A pocket of order has been created by the fiercest chaos. Equilibrium is achieved. Why would we fight chaos? By embracing the confusion, we begin to accept its natural power in creating an order. If you don’t expect things to go as planned, you are open to the unplanned. When you’re not focused on one outcome, you open the possibility for many effects. We do not always know the result; chaos is not deterministic or reductionistic, but accepting is the opening of ourselves to thriving within the storm. Embrace chaos, enter the storm.
. This is an extract from The Shepherd and the Beast. The hero’s journey for leaders by Tramayne Monaghan. Published by Tracey McDonald Publishers. Available online and in all good bookstores. Recommended Retail Price: R265.00