Being a diagnostician is like espionage. After many years of interviewing thousands of people failing to thrive, I realized that too many of them just stumble through life like playing a game of poker without knowing the rules. Nimble Jack is one of the casualties of this dilemma, who, wisely enough, sought out a personal coach. He is the hero and inspiration for this book. He invited me regularly to his office as his personal coach and also to act as a proxy in handling challenging cases in his role as counselor for his company. He mastered my dynamic model of influence and the psychology of winning which are prime levers that drove his performance from good to great.
After reading this book, you'll understand why, in spite of good education and holding a job, you may still be echelons away from becoming the success master or star you are destined to be.
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Leadership for SuccessA Dynamic Model of Influence
By Alfred Nkut
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2010 Dr. Alfred Nkut, M.D.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Paradigm Shift
The Heroic Mission
You have the choice to behave in a manner worthy of being followed as a leader all the time, whether at home or the workplace. It is of great importance that the people who choose to follow you do so out of respect, not obligation or fear.
You need a foundation of ethics as well. This is best expressed through Aristotle's classification of leadership as ethos, pathos, or logos. Ethos relates to ethics, the values held in common by society that defines what is good and bad. In order to be convincing to your followers, you need to be logical. Pathos relates to passion for your vision. Showing some emotion and excitement connects belief in your cause, and it is very inspiring for your team members. Before they will follow you, people want to know that you believe in the cause, too. Logos is ability to think precisely and creatively and to help others believe in what you are saying
Leading is simply the process of helping yourself or others get somewhere. This may involve changing your own thoughts in order to adopt a new paradigm. You may sometimes have to influence people to change their perceptions as well.
Leadership qualities like integrity, vision, discipline, and many more described in this book form the basis of leadership. Most of these qualities have to do with your character or who you are. Not so many of them deal with what you do. Most of leadership has to do with who we are, not what we do, even though what we do is also important in leadership. It's also because this book does not deal with positional leadership or authority. Whether you are in position of authority or not, this book is aimed at improving your life and making a difference. If you are in a position of authority, this book will help you become a better leader by the practice and acquisition of these qualities, that is, self-improvement.
The topics chosen are deemed to have the key principles that are foundational for being a good leader. I initiated a research study that the Vertigo Design Group completed to find out how one could use his or her ability to influence for success. It's long been observed, however, that most of our success comes from within. It's my conviction that most of our success comes from our inner motivation, attitude, and efforts rather than external factors. Success comes from within.
"A heroic mission is a vehicle that transcends both you and your purpose to something bigger than you. It has the quality of immortality and legacy." Its essence is for the common good, thus it's both personal and universal. Ralph Waldo Emerson described it as knowing that "even one life has breathed easier because you have lived." So the scope of one's mission is irrelevant. We cannot all be generals. We need some foot soldiers, and all these roles contribute to make for success. If the foot soldier does not do his or duty with diligence, there will hardly be success at the top. Genuine or heartfelt service is the key. Just having a positive worldview is a good start. Then a good deed, no matter how small it is, is always better than none is.
The examples of quiet heroes in our world are innumerable. Don Matthew, a retired teacher, spends his time as a volunteer at a food bank and helps children who are having difficulty reading. Drs. Geoff and Eleanor Protheroe have dedicated most of their working life as physicians doing mission work in Africa. They have worked with the African Inland Mission (AIM) organization in many countries, including Kenya, helping the medically needy. Knowing what these two great doctors are doing, the inference that helping the poor is part of their heroic mission is inescapable. They are undoubtedly quiet heroes. Just like Mother Teresa, the poverty activist, they are just doing their bit to make the world a better place. After all, we are all part of the greater tapestry.
The MIT professor, Peter Serge, who coined the term heroic mission said:
The leader's purpose story is both personal and universal. It defines her or his life's work. It enables his efforts yet leaves an abiding humility that keeps him from taking his own success and failures too seriously. It brings a unique depth of meaning to his vision, a larger landscape upon which his personal dreams and goals stand out as landmarks on a longer journey. But what is most important, this story is essential to his ability to lead. It places his organization's purpose, its reason for being, within a context of where we're headed, where the 'we' goes beyond the organization as a vehicle for bringing learning and change into society. This is the power of the purpose story. It provides a single integrating set of ideas that gives meaning to all aspects of the leader's work. Out of this deeper story and sense of purpose or destiny, the leader develops a unique relationship to his, or her, own personal vision. He or she becomes steward of the vision.
A heroic mission is like a compass. It guides you as it aligns your goals with your values. You could measure yourself against this standard of excellence day by day.
In Amos 7, we read about another kind of plumb line. The Lord first told Amos about a swarm of locusts and a great fire, which were pictures foretelling the destruction of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. After the prophet prayed and the Lord agreed to delay his judgment, Amos was given a vision of a straight wall. The Lord was standing by it with a plumb line. Because Israel's conduct did not square with God's laws, they experienced God's wrath.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we have a plumb line by which we can evaluate our lives, that is, the word of God with its principles and commands when we are faced with moral choices. We must see what the Scriptures teach. When we follow the Lord's directives, we need not fear what his plumb line will reveal in our lives.
The most important question in life has always been, "Why live?" And, again and again, the answer has been pointed to purpose. More precisely, it has been pointed to the purpose behind the purpose. This is the societal impact that your mission has. But why live if you have no purpose? As you think about it, imagine how boring life would be. There's no dog in the hunt, so life would be very flat. There is no life without the struggle. This is what fires you up and keeps you going day by day. Without a purpose or mission, life is not worth living, and there is no direction. In that way, you just waste your energy. The heroic mission harnesses your energy for an end.
In other words, your life is focused, so effort, time, and energy are not dissipated through boredom. This inspires hope for the future because you expect the best to happen. This affects the way you see life, and it determines both your journey and the destination.
Several religious and ethnic systems can help in shaping your values. My own value system is based in part on the teachings of the Christian Bible. Because Christianity is the most familiar religious value system in North America, I will use it to explain some of the principles of leadership. The Bible makes it very clear that, if you have not loved, you have neither lived nor succeeded. It says that God is love, too, and he made us to manifest his love. To love others is to love him. Also, service is the highest calling there is.
Mutual empowerment is a great law. The easiest way to move forward is by helping people reach their own potential. The barrier to such empowerment is fear of losing your own position. It's a paradox that only very secure people understand that, when you try to lift up somebody, you're eventually lifted, too. If you try to pull someone down, you lower yourself as well. Have you ever noticed that, if you smile at a perfect stranger, you will receive a smile in return? That simple act makes you feel so good. However, if you get up on the wrong side of the bed and stub your toe, then everything just seems to go downhill from there.
In that same way, by helping someone move forward, you are also helping yourself. It could be just by the good feeling you get, or it could be from the experience that you have gained by working toward the goal of helping that person reach his or her dream. The opposite also holds true as well. Though, by ignoring an opportunity to assist another person, you are ignoring the opportunity to grow yourself, missing the experience, and holding yourself back as well. The principle of abundance is crucial here. You think there is enough to go around, as opposed to scarcity mentality. Simply stated, the Law of Attraction is that you attract what you focus on. In other words, if you focus on receiving what you want to see in your life, you will attract it. But, if you focus on what you do not want in your life, that is exactly what you will attract because what you do not want as your main focus is.
Here are some of the measures of success: abundance, contentment, loving, heroism, and attainment of excellence. Success accrues as a by-product of the effort concentrated in pursuing your dreams. Once you connect to a cause and clearly decide what your life would represent, it engages your heart. You become emotionally engaged around the cause, and there will be a corresponding release of passion and energy, the buzz.
This is how you get charged up like a magnet. In my dynamic model in chapter six, I explain how you become like a dynamo, radiating hope, love, ideas, and energy rather than being flat and bored. This spills into all areas of your life, including how you think and speak. This puts a spring in your step. By the end of this book, a whole skill set, values, and character traits will be discussed that will affect your thinking and behavior.
This change in mentality leads to a paradigm shift for the better. Awareness often precedes all action. Your thoughts are so important that you cannot do anything without first changing the way you see things. Your thoughts shape your perception of a situation or the world. Thus, create a heroic mission that is not only in alignment with your values, but those of the organization and/or the public as well.
Who Am I? (Identity)
Part of the discussion in this book is modeled on more than sixty leadership qualities that the Vertigo Design Group researched. Many studies have been done that invariably put trust or vision as the top leadership quality to possess.
So the content of your mind is conditioned by the above factors, including belief systems, your childhood, culture, family background, and much more. The real issue is how you adopt an identity that is a true reflection of who you are, egoless.
Ego consists of thought and emotion or the collective identification, such as religious or political affiliation. It also contains personal identification with possessions, opinions, and values. Your ego can become a problem when you allow it to thrive on feelings of superiority, thus making you egocentric or egotistical. In most cases of egotistic behavior, the driving force behind it is the false belief stored in the subconscious mind, surfacing to distort the conscious mind's true beliefs. It is anything that directly or indirectly says you are right or better. Thus, it can play tricks on your mind in order to stay right. This could be blatant or as subtle as blaming a situation on somebody else or staying in denial.
Being right could be identifying with a mental position, a perspective, an opinion, story, or judgment. Through awareness of other people and the outside world, you can differentiate between fact and fiction. Eckhart Tolle says:
Awareness is like the light that dissolves the darkness of ego. Thus, unconscious and dysfunctional egotistic behavior can never be defeated by attacking it. Just in the same way, you do not beat the darkness away, but bring in light to make it go away.
Always remember this. How far does the darkness go away when the lights are turned on? Not very far. The message is that the battle with the ego is always on. You must always be vigilant about keeping the light of awareness turned on in your mind. Becoming egoless requires a paradigm shift, moving from "me" to "we" in your mentality.
The essence of knowing the deceptive nature of ego is that you will become a better leader through knowing the pathological nature and limitations of the ego. Thus, you have to learn how to let go of identification with psychological forms. You become a magnet (so to speak) that radiates. This determines your thoughts, words, and actions. If you can recognize even occasionally that the thoughts that go through your mind do not represent the reality, then you will no longer identify with them. In that way, you will perceive with as little biased interpretation as possible.
Mrs. Gamble was a participant in a survey regarding the primary factor in successful marriages. She had just celebrated her fiftieth wedding anniversary. She had five children, one of whom she lost in a motor vehicle accident. She became so depressed and suicidal that her husband left her for six months shortly after the death of their daughter. Grief counseling turned the tide. She successfully went through the five stages of grieving. She faced the death of her daughter, with shock and denial, for a very long time. Then she suffered a nervous breakdown as she became very angry about it. Bargaining then ensued. She slipped into a severe depression. Her self-esteem was down. Her cognitive distortion became so intense that she hated her husband and filed for separation. After so many sessions with grief counseling and sharing stories with people who had common problems, the gloom lifted, and she began to see the light.
Mrs. Gamble stopped being aware of the outside world, that is, of anything other than her grief. She did not even consider the grief of her husband or additional pain she might be causing him because of her behavior. She said that, in retrospect, her state of mind or mental disposition was the problem, not her husband. She shifted blame for everything that happened to her husband.
Certainly, when you are depressed, your self-image changes. Cognitively, your mind has changed. Why? Your self-confidence drops and so does your level of optimism. You start to expect the worst rather than the best, so it reinforces the negative attitude.
Mrs. Gamble concluded that possessing qualities like strong commitment to staying together in a relationship and being a hope-giver are important, especially in tough times. This is when the link is weakest and most likely to break. She said that, even with these qualities, life could still be very daunting to live and it is hard to see how anyone could live without these traits.
Commitment and hope can convey many messages. Just the idea that you expect to succeed uplifts you and everybody around you. When you expect the worst, you garner fear and negative mental attitude, which coalesces to psychological resistance. Not only does it pull you back, it also saps your dynamism and decisiveness, the catalyst for achieving anything you want.
Many qualities come out of becoming egoless. When you recognize the fact that your thoughts, emotions, and circumstances do not represent reality, you stop being reactive and become more proactive. Rather than live in unproductive, repetitive thoughts and emotions, you use your imagination, anticipate, and visualize possibilities.
In the end, your egocentric thinking and circumstances will cloud your judgment in every situation. But to what extent? In reality, you cannot get rid of psychological forms, emotion, and thinking. Minimizing their interference in your judgment is more to the point. As you can see in Mrs. Gamble's situation, unquestionably, her depression contributed to clouding her judgment, up to the point where she chose to separate from her husband. She gave testimony to the fact that she was committed in trusting and loving her husband, but her mind was not with her. As the fog lifted, she went back to her rock-solid values of commitment, trust, and hope. This is what saved her relationship.
For self-improvement, you may need a new paradigm to take you where you want to be. Use the think-act-feel template to practice the desired quality until it becomes spontaneous or part of the fabric of who you are. This template is discussed fully in subsequent chapters.
Excerpted from Leadership for Success by Alfred Nkut Copyright © 2010 by Dr. Alfred Nkut, M.D.. Excerpted by permission.
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