When presented a "promising" opportunity, eight out of 10 times I run for my life. The number one difference between a seemingly effective leader and a truly effective leader is the manner in which they spend their time. Both seem to be doing the same thing, but one is seizing "promising" opportunities that will never yield, while the other is refusing to waste a single moment.
The leader may better understand the importance of communication if he understands that communication is not just essential; it is essence. All that I have in this world is the projection of my consciousness. I am communication. And more, I am predicating myself into a social context, which is why I cannot ignore the social dynamic, which is why I cannot deny the importance of empathy. Empathy is identification (incarnation). Identification is the ultimate act of hearing. Hearing is the prerequisite of communication. Without hearing, the communicator cannot encode in the language of the receiver. The effective leader understands communication as essence and empathy as identification.
The leader or writer must never let the pathway become a trench. When you start with existing material, you start with a natural bias. This bias can turn the edges of the path into barriers. These barriers constrain your thinking and prevent you from finding the true (intellectual) path.
Sometimes, in a flash of pain, I am able to experience life with some form of direct insight. It is (thankfully) a fleeting glimpse of reality. The stark truth, my plight as incipient, becomes unbearable, and I realize that much of what I believe to be important is trivial, and much of what I believe to be trivial is important. I am a fool, but foolishness has its own balm.
One needs to discern the difference between passing style and timeless style - whether it's choosing clothes or writing prose. There may be a reason to consider passing style, but there is always reason to honor timeless style.
Leadership consists of far more than the series of techniques and tactics that contemporary leadership literature often teaches. You build a great leader by helping him expand his capacity to see and thus his capacity to do. A leader who cannot see might learn to do, but he may do the wrong things. The ability to lead is not enough, one must lead in the right direction.
The men and women in history who had the greatest influence are often those that caught a “cultural wave” at just the right time. There are probably a hundred others just as capable, but the world has never heard of them…
It is ironic, but their timing was mostly accidental. The same person, under different circumstances, might have been obscured in the grind of the ordinary.
This observation is not meant to impugn these historic leaders. Even catching the wave, riding it well, and maximizing its force deserves enormous respect. But I fear that many today underestimate the importance of the wave and the chaotic, seemingly randomness of perfect timing.
How can one focus their life? I’ve often heard this advice: “Live as though today is your last day”. On one level, I find it helpful, on another I find it lacking. If today were truly my last day, I would spend it radically different – not just because of a change in priority, but rather a shortage of time.
I think it might be more helpful to ask, “How would I live my life, if I just had one more year (or some other prescribed period)?” In that context, I am able to prioritize more effectively. I find it helpful to think in 50 year increments, but to do so, with a constant awareness that the next moment is never guaranteed. Good wine does not taste better because you drink it faster.
The leader must live with two horizons in view. We need to think in the short-term and the long-term. One who thinks only in the short-term never wins strategic advantage, and one who thinks only in the long-term never gains tactical position. Our operation must be a fluid paradox of short-term and long-term focus.
Mid-level leaders find themselves vacillating between the two perspectives - they are trapped in a contradiction, struggling between the urgency of the short-term and the necessity of the long-term. Senior leaders have the nuanced capacity to hold both perspectives at the same time - they resolve the contradiction with a paradox, seeing the present through the lens of the future.
In the end the decision to trust someone to perform a service for you can be summarized into two questions: “Can they?” and “will they?” Indeed, these questions thought of differently are the drivers of two positive conclusions that the marketer must achieve: the “you can” and the “you will.”
“You can” translates into capability. “You will” translates into character. Your prospective customer must believe both. Trust does not hinge on character alone, but also on capability. The nurturing phase of the lead managing process is about building trust. All collateral should serve to foster these two conclusions: that “you can” and that “you will.”