“A chess master never thinks only of the next move. He is thinking three, four, or five moves ahead. Leaders do the same thing. Their vision is cast well into the future. And that future is as familiar to them as it can be to the finite mind. They have dreamed dreams of that place. They have planted and built their hopes there. They have already envisioned a completion in that future.” – from Stan Toler’s “Minute Motivators for Leaders”
Lately, I admitted to myself that leadership, and being a leader, are hugely important to me. This is not something I would have told you outright a few years ago, not because I wasn’t leading (quite the opposite), but because I have always been reluctant to embrace the fact that I AM a leader. Part of that is cultural. Being from Hawaii, I was raised that to speak of yourself with any sort of bravado is NOT cool and to put yourself in a position that seems so front and center can be seen as arrogant and too forward. Blending in is certainly the goal here and standing out in any way makes you open for some interesting and often unfounded scrutiny.
I am not, however, a front and center kind of leader. The introvert that I am prefers to lead from the middle — from among, not above. It’s taken me a few years to know this about myself and to learn how to leverage it and I find that this leadership style guides everything I do, be it parenting, working or running for that matter. I have a great passion for good leadership because it’s something I think we lack in our society today though it’s something we so desperately need. I strive to be a better leader in home, in business and in life each and every day.
So why do people need leaders? It’s not because we have a need to follow, but because in all of our “doing” and “managing” in the day to day, we need people who can help us cast visions for ourselves, point us in the direction of the possible, and help put our efforts into context. I have had such amazing luck in my career to have worked with truly visionary leaders, and I am fortunate that lately I have attracted people into my life that are leading me in running and fitness, business and family.
I started the journey I call Fit Before 40 earlier this year and have managed to lose 25 pounds and keep them off. This month, I moved into the next phase of that journey, toning and leaning out my body, but I had a hard time figuring out WHY I felt compelled to do it and accepting where I needed to be. Going beyond my current level of fitness is uncharted territory. To have muscles? Abs? Michelle Obama arms?! Those are things I never saw as being in the realm of the possible for me and my body. But here I am, embarking on that part of the journey because my friends, my business partners, my husband and my trainer have led me to believe that those goals are achievable and, importantly, worthwhile – FOR ME. I want to look and feel my best and stop letting OTHER people who look and feel their best intimidate me. In the vision I’ve cast for myself, I see a fitter leaner me who doesn’t look near 40, couldn’t possibly have 3 kids that wear her down into a coma every night, who no one ever thinks of as weak or incapable by the looks of her, and who by all accounts deserves a happy, blessed life.
So back to leadership. Whether we realize it or not, we are all leaders in our own spheres of influence. Our actions are observed, followed and modeled by others. That said, why not choose to be conscious of it? BE a leader that casts visions for yourself AND for others. If we can lift others up as we lift ourselves, it is a tremendous blessing. Imagine yourself running that marathon or winning that medal or being that beautiful, fit person you want to see looking back at you in the mirror. Don’t just run or exercise or work to get by. Do it with purpose. Do it with vision. Lead others to see what is possible when you see yourself already achieving your goals and cast a vision that empowers others to take action.
Think on this today: Where do you see yourself in the future? What YOU do you want to be? How can your journey help inspire others to move ahead? What will you DO about it?