Rewriting the Rules

Post on Saturday, October 17th, 2009

What is it that makes a great leader? Is it the ability to enroll people into a vision? Is it an ability to take hold of an opportunity and run with it?

Great leaders must be open to new ideas, empowering people to participate in making things happen. They know those people to enlist to create and manage teams in order to turn their ideas into reality.

I believe that inside of each of us is the ability to be a great leader, and at the same time I do not believe that everyone is meant to be a leader. Without followers very little would get done in our world. By being a follower you are leading through your example.

“You don’t have to hold a position in order to be a leader.” Anthony J. D’Angelo

What is it that makes people like Gandhi such great leaders? What about Boone Pickens or Arnold Schwarzenegger? Arnold started out as a leader in the world of Body Building. He went on to make some of the top grossing films of all time, and, if that were not enough, he was voted in as the Governor of California not once, but twice. This could only happen in America!

All of these people have one thing in common. They have a keen ability to understand the rules and then the extraordinary talent to do something powerful: to rewrite the rules.

You see one of the keys to being a great leader is the ability to understand the rules and then rewrite them as driven by our changing times. Great leaders have actually inspired us by making up their own rules becoming great leaders in the process. This does not mean that we have always agreed with what they have done. It only means that enough people have been behind them and have supported them and as a result these leaders have been able to get things done.

“Leadership:  the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

How well do you know the rules of this game of life of which we are all a part?

Think about this. A coalition has been formed to change the Constitution of the United States so that Arnold Schwarzenegger can run for President of the United States, because he is not a natural born citizen. Talk about rewriting the rules! Think it can’t happen? As I have written before, anything is possible with enough work and in this case enough leadership. Only time will tell.

We always hear about the traditional attributes of what it means to be a leader. A leader is a team builder and a motivator.  A leader is a person who is action oriented, is driven, has credibility, and takes charge. All of these are critical to great leadership, but the one that is not discussed is a leader’s ability to rewrite the rules.

You can also rewrite the rules if you choose to do so. It only takes a lot of experience, hard work, understanding of the rules that exist, and a willingness to challenge the status quo going where others fear to tread. No small task to be sure. This is why we have so few great leaders. It’s hard work. No, it’s transformational work!

The challenge is that our society thrives on conformity, creating everyone to be pretty much the same as everyone else. The homogenization and sterilization of our society presents a huge challenge today. If you are a person who causes people to have to think more deeply about something they get uncomfortable.

Isn’t it strange that creative people are in such demand and at the same time they are so disliked. As one wise frog once said, “It’s not easy being green.”

If there is only one thing that I can convince you of, it would be that you have unlimited potential and that you can do anything you want to do. You just have to be willing to work hard enough at it. Life is a journey, not a sprint. It is never too late to start working intentionally on your journey.

What makes this possible is for each of us to be willing to work on what’s on the inside and take what we know and use it to influence your work on the outside. What’s this?

Once you gain the ability to understand yourself, which includes the good, the bad and the ugly, you will have taken one giant step towards living a more meaningful life. When you know who you are and are constantly working on being the best you can be everything will become easy. You will begin to realize that you are the only person who can impact your world, your attitude, your experiences, and your life.

“Nothing so conclusively proves a man’s ability to lead others as what he does from day to day to lead himself.” Thomas J. Watson

The outer world is just that, the outer world. It does not do anything to you. Instead, it is your actions and intentions that interact with the outer world that create the positive or negative experiences that you have. Your inner ability to know who you are helps you to make the outer world experience uniquely yours.

If there was ever a time in history for people to take a deeper look at who they are and what they are contributing to our world it is now. We need to wake up! The world is changing and changing fast. Since everything is changing the rules need to change too. If we don’t change things will force us to change. Our ability to take a leadership role, which includes challenging the status quo and going where others fear to go, has the potential to rewrite the rules.

“Leaders are visionaries with a poorly developed sense of fear and no concept of the odds against them.” Robert Jarvik

Let me know what you think.

Until next week, remember the only boxes that exist are the ones you create yourself.

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