© 2015 by Jim Bouchard Booking for speaking, corporate training and media appearances available through Black Belt Mindset Productions. Call 800-786-8502 ThatBlackBeltGuy.com Cover & book design by Diego Designs
All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or scanning, or otherwise without written permission of the author and publisher–– except for brief quotations in critical reviews or articles.
Published in the United States of America by San Chi Publishing
First printing: December 2015 ISBN-13: 978-1519706676 ISBN-10: 1519706677
selfless selfishness 1. Work 2. find
first on being a good folloWer
yourself to Personal and
4. ask before you’re asked–– aCt before you’re asked 61 unCertainty
to deal With
to talk and Write good
on exPerienCe over reWards
by sharing, not aCCuMulating
This book is mostly a compilation of writing I’ve done over the past few years. If you’re a young person, or someone who has decided to embrace the role of a leader at any age, this is your book. Much of this material is adapted from my blog posts, magazine articles and other places where I try to help people become leaders––with some connecting ideas to fill in any gaps. Like the other books in the 8 STRATEGIES series, this isn’t meant to be a comprehensive volume. It’s meant as a handy guide––something you can tuck into your pocket, backpack or briefcase. Something you can refer to from time to time; something to instigate thought. I borrowed some of this material from my other books, particularly THE SENSEI LEADER and THINK Like a BLACK BELT. If you’re serious about leadership, I highly recommend you read those books too. I go into much more depth in those titles. iii
PREFACE I don’t expect you to agree with all my ideas. They are exactly that––my ideas. These strategies and concepts have worked well for me, and I can tell you from extensive research and experience that they work well for the most effective leaders. Having said that, I welcome debate, dissent and respectful argument. If I got some juices flowing, I’ve done what I set out to do. If you’re looking for all the answers, you’ve come to the wrong store. The best I can do––all I can do is share my limited knowledge and experience. A leader knows that’s the best anyone can do––and it’s certainly all any competent leader can do. The rest is up to you. There is plenty of wisdom out there–– seek it. There is an inexhaustible roster of great leaders to learn from, dead and alive––find them, and study them. Most of all, there are infinite challenges and opportunities for experience, growth and development. Explore those opportunities and embrace those challenges––
That’s how you become a genuine leader. I sincerely hope my small contribution helps you become a wise, compassionate and courageous leader––
A leader with the ability to attract willing followers, and with the will to serve them. iv
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS
“You grow as a leader, and as a person, in direct proportion to what You’re willing to share with others. You bring out the best in others not because You expect anYthing from them, but because You’re willing to extend Your best self first.”
~the sensei leader
If you really want to get ahead in life––be a leader. First of all, and this may be why you picked up this book, becoming a leader gives you some distinct advantages and opportunities. In general: • Leaders make more money. • Leaders enjoy more freedom and autonomy. • Leaders have more options. • Leaders get to make decisions and set policy. • Other people look up to leaders. • Leaders do what others only wish they could do. Let’s explore this self-interest angle and any trepidation you may have about it––and let’s dispel the myth of the selfless leader. 7
JIM BOUCHARD There’s nothing wrong with positive self-interest. If more people focused on improving themselves in order to get ahead, the world would be a much better place. I was first challenged on this philosophical stand when I was teaching martial arts. I always placed a great emphasis on self-improvement being the most important reason to practice martial arts. People questioned my obsession with self-perfection. Isn’t a relentless focus on self-improvement, after all––selfish? I started asking students why they were studying martial arts. We also included this question in annual member polls and on our registration form for new students. Surprisingly, self-defense was not the top answer. The top answers year after year were: • Self-improvement • Personal development • Health/Fitness Self-defense would always show up fourth or fifth. Aren’t all of these objectives, even self-defense, rather self-centered?
“the least selfish thing You can do for others is to improve Your self.” 8
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS That’s what I started telling my students. Martial arts is a selfish pursuit in some ways. It takes a lot of time, focus and energy. This is time and energy you could be giving to others––but if you don’t take care of your “self,” what are you really giving to others? When you make yourself better, you become a greater resource to the people around you. You become a more valuable contributor to your family, your community and your business. Of course to be of any real value to others, you’ve got to share your continually new and improved self with them. We’re going to talk about that in great detail, but for now I’ll just say this:
The highest level of human expression is leadership.
LEADERSHIP IS ABOVE ALL ELSE–– SHARING A leader shares. You’re going to share many things as a leader including power, authority, knowledge, experience, wisdom, 9
JIM BOUCHARD compassion and respect. Most of all, as a leader, you share you––you share your “self.” Your effectiveness as a leader grows in direct proportion to what you’re willing to share with others. It really is a simple formula, and the more you share, the more you grow. I wrote this in THE SENSEI LEADER:
“You grow as a leader, and as a person, in direct proportion to what you’re willing to share with others. You bring out the best in others not because you expect anything from them, but because you’re willing to extend your best self first.” And that’s where you have to start. Before you can share your “best self” with others, you’ve got to discover exactly what your best self is–– And you you’ve got to commit yourself to the continual process of discovering, cultivating and improving your best self. I wouldn’t trust a self-proclaimed “selfless” leader as far as I could kick him––which, for the record, would be about six feet. My experience has taught me that if you scratch a selfless leader––you find a liar. There is a clear psychological profile for people who become effective leaders and it includes some degree of selfishness. You become a leader because you’re trying to fulfill some selfish needs. 10
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS You might simply enjoy the sensation of others looking up to you. You might enjoy their trust, loyalty, and even their admiration. You may like being in the spotlight––though you can be an effective leader without fame and celebrity. You may really like the feeling of independence and autonomy that comes with leadership. There’s nothing wrong with any of these things. In fact, if you’re going to succeed as a leader you better damn well enjoy some of these benefits, otherwise it’s going to be very difficult to maintain your motivation and energy through the hard work you need to put in to become a genuine leader. No––be a little selfish. Enjoy working on yourself and improving your “self.” Embrace and enjoy the benefits of leadership. Don’t feel guilty; there are going to be plenty of challenges to offset the benefits! Be a little selfish, but temper that self-focus with a healthy degree of humility. That’s what keeps you from becoming arrogant and obsessive. That’s what separates a leader from a dictator. I’m not encouraging you to indulge yourself so you’ll feel that you’re better than others. Quite the opposite. I’m encouraging you to focus on yourself so you’ll be better able to serve others. 11
JIM BOUCHARD It’s simple, really. (Not easy.) You can only be a leader through becoming a valuable resource in the lives of the people you serve.
If you want to be a leader––first commit yourself to being a better person … always. Focus on being your best Self.
first on being a good folloWer great leaders are usuallY also great followers. It may sound like a cliche. I don’t know why people have such a negative reaction to cliches. Many times a slogan or phrase becomes a cliche because it’s true! You may be sick of hearing it, sometimes because you’re avoiding it, but there is power in many cliches and there is certainly power in this one. Effective leaders understand some truths about following that dictators can’t accept.
First, follower is a role not a position. 13
JIM BOUCHARD At any given time and in any particular situation you may be called to lead or to follow. Your role depends on the circumstances and conditions in the moment and you’re much more valuable when you can assume either role effectively––with no threat to your status or ego. J. Thomas Wren compiled some of the world’s greatest leadership thought in The Leader’s Companion. Get this book––today. In it he shares a Harvard Business Review article by Robert E. Kelley titled: “In Praise of Followers.” Kelley gives us gold:
“Followership is not a person but a role, and what distinguishes followers from leaders is not intelligence or character but the role they play … effective leaders are often the same people playing different parts at different hours of the day.”
Great leaders are receptive to input from all levels. Many of the best ideas come from the front lines. I worked in a shipyard when I graduated high school. I was a pipe fitter in the nuclear shop building the Trident submarine. We were ahead of schedule on one particular boat and got 14
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS a little ahead of the shipments of new assemblies. One day, an assembly arrived way out of synch with our progress. This caused a problem because if the assemblies are not installed in the proper order, it’s sometimes difficult if not impossible to snake them into the reactor. A group of supervisors, the “white hats,” were gathered around the assembly trying to figure out how to get the damn thing in the boat. Next to them, a couple of crusty old fitters in battered blue helmets knew exactly what needed to be done. One of the blue hats walked up to the assembly, took a Sharpie and marked two lines on the pipe wrapping. “Cut it here––and here. And we’ll get it on the boat.” Long story short, the white hats kept on deliberating. Ultimately, the assembly was shipped back to the fabrication shop––more than 50 miles by barge each way. A couple of weeks and likely tens of thousands of dollars later the assembly arrived back at the yard. It was cut exactly where the crusty old vets had marked it. Imagine the savings in time and money if they had just followed the lead of the veteran fitters and let them cut the assembly on the pier. It’s likely that assembly would have been fully installed to the same specs within the day. Why didn’t the supers follow the lead of the tradesmen? Were they afraid to challenge hard-set protocols? Where 15
JIM BOUCHARD they afraid to assume responsibility? If so––that’s understandable but leadership sometimes means you challenge the status quo and take action where others might fear to tread. Were they protecting their status and position? Were they afraid to be “shown up” by a couple of front-line lifers?
The leader who is unwilling or unable to follow is a real problem. It’s obvious––the supervisors should have put aside their “positions” in this case and followed the experienced lead of their front-line subordinates. Had they assumed the role of follower they would have solved the problem efficiently and effectively––and they would have saved the U.S. taxpayer a few thousand dollars that year!
YOU LEARN BY FOLLOWING … I studied taiji for several years with Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming in Boston. His seminars were a melting pot of culture, age and experience. A 30 year practitioner might be working with a rank novice––not as teacher and student, as peers. I had been practicing martial arts for about 20 years when I was paired with a woman who was taking her very first 16
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS lessons. Just before our lunch break, Dr. Yang had us practicing new pieces from a very long “form,” or set of choreographed movements. Now by this point, I’d spent thousands of hours of practicing forms––and teaching them. Learning a form is not easy! Students very often look at the ground to avoid distractions and help them memorize the movements. That’s a bad habit! As beautiful as these forms might look, and they do look like dances, we’re practicing fighting. Looking down in a fight is not a smart thing to do! In combat, what you can’t see can, in fact, hurt you! Whenever I taught a new form I’d instruct my students to keep their eyes up. I’d probably said it ten thousand times. So what was I doing this particular day as I was learning a new form? That’s right––I was looking down––and my partner had the audacity to point it out to me! She said, “You know, Jim, you’re supposed to look up when you’re practicing.” Oh yes, my ego showed it’s ugly face! Who was this rookie to tell me what I was doing? I’ve been at this for 20 years–– she’s been at it for 4 hours! 17
JIM BOUCHARD Fortunately, I was restrained enough not to let her see it. I just thanked her and stewed in my own juices. Later, as I was eating lunch, I experienced a moment of enlightenment. She was absolutely right. Her advice in that moment was just as meaningful and powerful as Dr. Yang’s, and by that time he’d been at it more than 40 years. You really can learn from anyone––if you’re willing.
FOLLOWERSHIP IS THE FOUNDATION FOR LEADERSHIP Becoming a good follower also teaches you some important qualities that will serve you well in your role as a leader. Back to Kelly’s article:
Effective followers share a number of essential qualities: 1) They manage themselves well. 2) They are committed to the organization and to a purpose, principle or person outside themselves. 3) They build their competence and focus their efforts for maximum impact. 4) They are courageous, honest and credible. 18
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS In THE SENSEI LEADER I go deeply into the qualities and characteristics of an effective leader. Compare those to the qualities Kelly identifies for an effective follower. You’ll discover that the process of becoming an effective follower works in perfect harmony with the process of becoming an effective leader. No matter how high you rise, it’s worth coming back to earth from time to time––a leader could find far less productive investments in time than revisiting and practicing the qualities of good followership. I’ll get into this more when we talk about Mastery, but for now just pay attention to the idea that the best leaders are committed to continual self-improvement. That process of continual improvement is rooted in “Beginner’s Mind.” That means constantly reviewing and perfecting the basics–– always developing and improving the most fundamental techniques, qualities and characteristics that make you an effective leader and an effective person. The fundamentals of becoming an effective leader are rooted in the fundamentals of becoming an effective follower.
FOLLOWING GIVES YOU PERSPECTIVE … If you own a restaurant and your busboy calls in sick, you might be the one strapping on an apron and clearing the tables. 19
JIM BOUCHARD I have several friends who are successful in the restaurant business. It’s no accident that none of them achieved their success by going to restaurant college. Every one of them worked every job in the restaurant, from mopping floors and washing dishes to waiting tables, tending bar and cooking on the line. Now that they’re in charge––they know how everyone in the organization functions. More important, they know how everyone in the organization feels. They understand each job and each role from top to bottom and from every perspective. This makes them more responsive leaders. They also understand from experience that it doesn’t take a lot of intellect to wash dishes, and that if the dishwasher wants to move up, that person needs to do more than wash dishes. At the same time it gives them an appreciation of the real value of each role and teaches them to respect every position.
DEFERENCE Cicero once said:
“if a man aspires to the highest place, it is no dishonor to him to halt at the second.” 20
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS Leadership is not about authority––however, a genuine leader’s authority should be respected. Unfortunately today there is a tendency to oppose authority just for the sake of doing so. I can’t find a more artful way to express this idea. There is simply too much protest without substance. Too much defiance without reason. Too often these days the monkeys take over the zoo. This has led to a strange dichotomy in which students demand authoritarian protection from discomfort and real or perceived offense, while at the same time they demand a stronger leadership role in establishing these crippling parameters. If a leader is wrong––is for example, oppressive, tyrannical or abusive, then it’s your duty to oppose that leader. If, however, a trusted and effective leader is simply not doing whatever makes your life perfect in the moment, or is simply doing something you don’t like, be very careful–– Your coup may leave a vacuum that can be filled by either a true despot or anarchy. The leader is not always going to do what you like or what you want. First of all, a genuine leader weighs the benefits and effects of decisions on everyone he or she serves. Your interests, no matter how justified or passionate are just a part of that equation. A genuine leader has the strength to swim against the tide sometimes. An unpopular, inconvenient or even painful course of action may turn out to be the best in the long run. 21
JIM BOUCHARD Contrast that with a weak leader who always bends to the whims of populists sentiment. He can’t satisfy anyone for very long and usually ends up trapped in an endless cycle of pandering or paralyzed by indecision. Your role as an effective follower is to support, or at the very least not subvert the authority of a trusted and effective leader. As you aspire to leadership yourself, remember that soon enough the shoe will be on the other foot––or you’ll be on the other side of the desk, the pulpit, the ballot box or the boardroom.
IF YOU WANT TO LEAD––FOLLOW FIRST One of the most powerful traits of an effective leader, if not the most powerful, is compassion––genuine empathy for the people you serve. There is no better way to understand others than to walk a few miles in their shoes.
if You want to learn how to serve Your followers in the future, be one now. 22
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS
if You want to be a great leader––walk Your first few miles behind one. You might imagine that by the time someone earns a Black Belt and decides to become a professional martial arts instructor, that person may have developed a healthy ego, some degree of confidence and self-esteem. Those are all helpful qualities in leading a martial arts organization, but becoming a Sensei is not about the inflation of the ego. It is a life of service. When I started training instructors to enter the business, I understood that this ego required a little tempering. Humility is the balancing force that keeps the ego healthy. I would start our Instructor’s College workshop by asking a simple question: “What do you think the word ‘Sensei’ means?” The usual answers included teacher, master, instructor, etcetera.
“No. Sensei means––janitor!” I meant what I said! I learned very early in my career that being a Sensei in reality is a dramatic departure from the glamorous image you get from TV and the movies! 23
JIM BOUCHARD Like in many other small businesses, a martial arts center very often starts out as a one or two person operation. Sure––you get to spend part of your day strapping on your belt, sharing your wisdom and enjoying the admiration and respect of your students–– You spend the rest of the day mopping floors, swabbing toilets and polishing mirrors. You might also be cleaning up after a 5 year old who rediscovered his lunch during push-ups! There’s no shame in any honest work, but it’s important to face the facts. No matter how high you go, never be afraid to pick up a mop––or a shovel, a hammer or a dish rag. Great leaders do what needs to be done when it needs to be done––so do great followers. Learn to follow and you’re going a long way toward learning how to lead. One more thought from Robert Kelly:
“instead of seeing the leadership role as superior to and more effective than the role of the follower, we can think of them as equal, but different activities.” And one is not more or less important than the other… 24
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS
what is important is that You learn to follow first–– and then learn how to lead.
2. find the Master
“the mediocre teacher tells. the good teacher explains. the superior teacher demonstrates. the great teacher inspires.” ~william arthur ward You may have opened a fortune cookie that read, “When the student is ready, the Master will appear.” If only it were only that easy! Finding the right teachers, mentors and coaches is one of the most important part of your development as a leader––and as a person. 27
JIM BOUCHARD Finding the right teacher or mentor is also a never-ending process. As you grow and develop you’re going to seek out new teachers. Some are specific to skills and abilities you want to cultivate––others are most appropriate to a particular phase of development and maturity in your life or career. Learn how to find the right teacher for the right moment–– and then dedicate yourself to the continual search. Finding the right Master is not as simple as finding someone with the skill, knowledge or characteristics you want to absorb, integrate and emulate. It’s about finding someone who also understands your potential and is committed to helping you excel. You’re looking for two important qualities in a Master:
1) wisdom 2) humilitY Wisdom is not just another word for knowledge. Wisdom is the combination of knowledge and experience tempered by awareness. Wisdom is forged––it is earned. Anyone can accumulate knowledge and everyone will accumulate experience, but wisdom is only available to the person willing to look deeply into his own heart and mind––willing to analyze and think about what that knowledge and experience really means. A truly wise person is humble. Now don’t confuse humility with weakness or lack of confidence. It’s quite the opposite–– 28
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS it takes a lot of genuine confidence to express authentic humility. Humility is the capacity to subvert one’s ego in the service of others. This is an essential quality for an effective teacher–– the true Master––a Sensei. In this application, the best teacher is one whose students surpass him. The true Master measures his own success by the achievements of his students. I was conducting a training workshop for instructors in my martial arts program when an aspiring Sensei asked me, “You’ve done this for years. How do you stay so enthusiastic? How do you keep from getting bored?” “Simple,” I answered, “I don’t get off on what I’m doing. I get off on what my students are doing.” I’m human––I enjoy my successes, but I’ve learned that as a teacher, my real energy comes from the successes of my students. I still feel that today about my speeches, books and workshops. My reward is when someone finds takes one of my ideas and does something useful with it. I love it when a student visits years after our last class together and tells me that what I taught made a real difference in his or her life. That’s a real reward. I’m not putting myself on a pedestal as an example, but at the same time, I am very confident in my ability as a teacher. I’ve proven myself––and proven to myself that I have the ability to help people reach their true potential and break 29
JIM BOUCHARD through what they once thought were impenetrable barriers. I’m a good teacher because I know my limits. I don’t know everything, but I have the wisdom to know that my search for wisdom is never complete. I am constantly striving to improve myself; constantly questioning my value and looking for ways to be more useful, more relevant. I’m a good teacher because I have the humility to put my students first. I am the kind of teacher you’re looking for. One of the most humbling experiences I’ve had as a teacher came when I was just starting to have some success with my books and speaking business. In THINK Like a BLACK BELT I wrote about the most important lesson I had learned as a martial artist and through my transformation from loser to Black Belt. I shared this piece of philosophy:
“perfection is not a destination–– it’s a never-ending process.” I wrote that this idea is so important that you should have it tattooed on your own body. A few months later I received a Facebook message from someone in Boston who had taken my words quite literally. He told me that my words helped him through a very difficult time. He attached a picture. I did a double-take––he had tattooed my saying to the side of his body! 30
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS I’ve taught thousands of students, but I can’t ever remember feeling such an overwhelming sense of humility––and a deep sense of responsibility. I had the honor to meet this person face to face at an event. He renewed my commitment. He also helped me develop an acute awareness of one of the dangers of becoming a Master––and something you must be on alert for as you seek a Master:
BEWARE OF THE GURU! You may be aware of the “Socratic Paradox.” It’s based on a quotation attributed to the great teacher:
“the onlY true wisdom is in knowing You know nothing.” In this one simple but profound statement, Socrates reveals the importance of both wisdom and humility in the true Master. Don’t treat this wisdom like a t-shirt slogan. Pay close attention to the logic in what Socrates is saying. First of all, you of course want to seek a Master who knows what he’s doing and knows what he’s talking about. In any given point in your search, you want a teacher with the technical skills, knowledge and competence to guide you properly. 31
JIM BOUCHARD At the same time, you want a teacher with the wisdom to know that he doesn’t “know it all.” Any one of us, in one lifetime, can only learn and experience so much. We’re limited most of all by the simple fact that our mortal lives allow us only a limited amount of time in this world. And, at best we’re going to spend a third of that time asleep! Of course, some people spend even more time asleep––even when they’re awake! Find a teacher who is cognizant of his limitations, but at the same time refuses to be restricted by them. This might seem like another paradox, but think about it. I only have so much time in this life––but in that time I want to experience and learn as much as I possibly can. I’ll accept the natural limitations imposed by mortal life, but I will not allow those limitations to restrict the potential of my thoughts, actions and experiences while I am still alive. The best teacher is able, through example, to impart that enthusiasm for life and learning to his students. Knowing your limitations does not mean you’re defined by them. The Guru, by contrast, knows it all––and doesn’t mind telling you so. The Guru has all the answers and in our new-age of commercial enlightenment, is all too willing to sell those answers and is glad to accept cash, checks or credit cards to do so. It might seem hypocritical for me to rail against people who sell answers. After all, don’t I make my living selling 32
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS information? Don’t I trade on my knowledge, wisdom and experience? I do––and I sleep soundly. I have no problem charging for my time. I don’t feel guilty about making a living sharing my hard earned lessons. What I will not sell you are answers. I won’t sell you promises.
“spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.”
~ e.m. forster I try very hard not to tell you what to do. I try to help you do what you do better. And I walk the walk. I’m always seeking out new Masters. I continually work with teachers, mentors and coaches to improve myself. I have no problem myself investing my hard-earned with people who can help me move forward. I invest a lot of money and time every year in my own learning, development and training. I spend thousands of dollars and thousands of hours on books, seminars, classes and workshops. I’m not expecting shortcuts or easy answers. I’m not paying for my mentors to do the work for me. 33
JIM BOUCHARD What I’m paying for are the techniques and tools. Just like a cabinet maker who invests in tools and materials so he can craft a fine piece of furniture, I’m buying the knowledge, wisdom and experience to help me craft my life. I wouldn’t spend a dime on a Guru who guarantees success. And there’s the rub. Have you ever responded to an ad that promises the fast track to wealth and riches? Have you ever bought a lottery ticket? Have you ever been suckered by the guarantee of unbounded happiness, peace of mind or unlimited potential? If so, you’re not alone. I’ve been suckered myself. I was desperate. I was seeking, sincerely, to make my life better. I was susceptible to their false promises. And I’ve fallen under the spell of a few false masters. I’ve been disappointed later to find out that they didn’t walk the walk, they just talked the talk. I’ve studied with frauds and I’ve studied with people who simply were not who they said they were because they really didn’t know themselves. I hope that sharing my thoughts helps you avoid some of these fakirs, but sometimes these guys are charismatic and attractive. Sometimes you just run into them when you’re 34
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS most needy and vulnerable. If you find yourself there, don’t beat yourself up. Just beat feet. It’s one thing to be fooled into following a false prophet. It’s quite another to stick around allow yourself to be used, abused and robbed.
SO HOW DO YOU FIND THE RIGHT MASTER? Ask other people you admire and trust who they studied with. Who where their teachers, mentors and coaches? What about them brought value to their students and clients? Approach each new teacher respectfully, but with some degree of healthy skepticism. Do your due diligence. We live in an age of unprecedented access to information. It’s not hard to vet someone thoroughly before you invest time, money and trust. One or two bad reviews isn’t a deal breaker––no one of us can make everyone happy, but when there’s a long trail of disappointment, complaints and accusations, pay attention. I was once approached by a public relations guru who 35
JIM BOUCHARD guaranteed she could propel my business to over six figures in just a few short months––as long as I signed up within two weeks! Within a few clicks we found a plethora of complaints and accusations of fraud. A few more clicks and we found an actual record of conviction. And that’s another danger sign––the “you must act now” play. Take your time. I learned long ago in business and in life that there are very few deals that are so good that you must act before you think. If it has to be now, it’s usually because the seller is acutely aware that you might uncover some information that will make you change your mind. When I’m working with sales people I talk about the old acronym, “A-B-C; Always-Be-Closing.” Ya. If you’re selling crap! The same is true in finding your Master. If you’ve got to choose now or the opportunity is lost––lose it. All you probably lost was the opportunity to waste time and money. Don’t be afraid to invest in quality learning and training with an authentic and sincere Master. Just beware of the Gurus. Sometimes the best advice is free––and some of the best teachers too. 36
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS As I said, I have no problem paying for good teaching and I have no problem with good people making a good living sharing their knowledge. At the same time, some of my best teachers have been, and continue to be unpaid mentors. These are people who for some reason have taken an interest in me and what I’m trying to accomplish. They offer their advice and counsel free of charge. This is a different relationship, however, than when you’re paying for your learning. If I pay for a college class, I expect the teacher to be there on time and to be available for office hours. I expect delivery of the promised curriculum. With a volunteer mentor, I’m subject to their time, their schedule and their willingness to share. I’m appreciative of any time and wisdom they’re willing to share. I do not feel entitled to more. I believe the best blend is to find a Master willing to work with you as a mentor––and find a teacher you are comfortable investing in too. Each type of relationship serves a valuable role in your learning and development.
THE MASTER ISN’T SUPPOSED TO DO THE WORK FOR YOU … Your Master or mentor is not supposed to do the work for you, and usually isn’t there to provide answers. The Master’s role is to guide you through the process of discovering your own answers and developing your talents and abilities to the fullest. This is a tough job! One of the most common problems I hear today is that established leaders are very hesitant to delegate responsibilities to developing and aspiring leaders. This is a problem in a number of ways, but in regard to leadership development, this attitude is retarding the growth and development of the next generation. While protecting turf can be an issue, particularly in dysfunctional cultures, I’ve found that the reason established leaders are hesitant to delegate is simply because it’s more efficient to just do it themselves. And it might be––the first few times. There is a constant tug of war between getting the job done and allowing aspiring leaders the time to learn how to do it. An established leader must balance these two equally important priorities. As an aspiring leader, it’s important to understand that this is sometimes a difficult balancing act. You need to be willing 38
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS and prepared to take advantage of any and all opportunities. At the same time you need to understand that sometimes you won’t get the assignment. This is not always a slight or a comment on your talents or potential. Sometimes the work just needs to get done and you may not be the most prepared, or it may simply be most efficient at this time to assign the task to someone else. Ask if you can tag along. Sometimes playing second fiddle gives you the best seat in the orchestra. Working alongside someone more skilled is a powerful way to learn and develop. Established leaders also need to know that the only way to develop quality leadership is to let people lead. Your role is then to mentor and guide the aspiring leader in their development. If you try to do it all yourself, you better be prepared to do it all the time. Hesitancy to delegate and mentor along the way creates a serious and often dangerous or expensive gap between need and experience. It’s too often the case that when experienced leaders retire or move on, emerging leader lack the experience and wisdom to facilitate a smooth transition. Our focus here is on the aspiring leader. It’s your responsibility to seek opportunities for development. Your development as a leader depends a lot on finding an organization that has a “deliberately developmental” leadership culture. Here are some things you can do right here and right now to position yourself for leadership opportunities… 39
Ask for responsibilities––thAt is, Ask before you’re Asked. trAin on your own And mAke it known thAt you Are. show thAt you’re reAdy by Accepting opportunities enthusiAsticAlly.
show thAt you’re willing to grow by Asking for Advice And help when you need it to get the job done right. Pay careful attention to that last point. As I’ve been saying, it’s not the Master’s job to do the work for you, but it is the Master’s job to guide you as you develop. It’s not weakness, but a sincere expression of trust and respect to ask for your mentor’s advice. Asking for help shows that you’re willing to learn and grow and that you’re not a “know-it-all.” The best teachers will present you with options, share experience and guide you through the process of making a 40
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS decision. The best teacher will very seldom just tell you what to do.
“tell me and i forget, teach me and i maY remember, involve me and i learn.” ~benjamin franklin Find the person who can deliver on those words and you’ve found a true Master.
yourself to Personal and Professional Mastery “the purpose of training is to tighten up the slack, toughen the bodY, and polish the spirit.” ~morihei ueshiba If you’re a leader, people expect you to know what the hell you’re doing! They expect you to be good at what you do! Practice Mastery in your domain. At the same time, 43
JIM BOUCHARD acknowledge that you can’t do everything yourself. Understand and cultivate the talents and skills of others to realize the full potential of the organization or community. Effective leaders are committed to personal and professional mastery. They’re also dedicated to providing opportunities so that others can develop mastery too. A while ago I was soaking in the tub watching Dan Pink’s TED Talk on “The Puzzle of Motivation.” Yeah, that’s how I spend my tub time … YouTube University! Anyway, Mr. Pink was talking about the three major factors that motivate us: • Autonomy • Mastery • Purpose His contention is that if you want to engage people—allow them to control how they manage their time and get the job done, provide them with opportunities for growth and development, and make sure they’re doing something meaningful. I think Dan Pink hits the nail squarely on the head. I’ll only add that from my experience, mastery is the most important of these three factors. That’s what the Black Belt experience is all about. • Mastery gives you control of your individual talents and abilities. Mastery is the key to self-empowerment. 44
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS • Mastery is what earns you greater autonomy. • Mastery is in itself a meaningful pursuit—a purpose unto itself. • Mastery is also the foundation of confidence. You want to feel as if you can accomplish what you set out to do, right? That confidence comes most of all from training and preparation—from mastering the talents, skills and abilities you need to accomplish the task at hand and your long term goals.
masterY, like perfection, is not a destination; it’s a process. it’s the continual process of learning, training and mindful practice. You certainly want to master specific skills and abilities— you want to develop your talents and competencies. More important, however, is that you master the process of personal development itself. It’s appropriate to apply the term mastery to a high level of skill and ability in a specific area. The true Master, however, can apply the process of learning to achieve Mastery in any pursuit. 45
MASTERING BASICS Ultimately, the real secret of Mastery is the ability to master the basics. Years ago I attended a session at a martial arts convention featuring the Japanese sword master, Yamazaki. Master Yamazaki had a pedigree including training movie stars and members of the Japanese imperial family—and they take their sword very seriously. He told a story, mostly through an interpreter, about a young warrior who wanted to become a great sword master. As these stories go––the young warrior approaches the Master and says: “I want to be a great sword master too!” The Master replies, “You only need to know three steps. First step: Basic practice. Now go away!” The young man does as he’s told and trains diligently for three years. Returning to the Master he announces, “Master, I’m ready for the next step!” “Good!” says the Master. “Second step: Basic practice! Now 46
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS go away.” Again the young warrior goes off and trains and practices and duels and tests his skills until he feels he’s ready for the final step. One more time he returns to the Master. “Master,” he says proudly, “I’m ready to become a master, too. I’m ready for the final step.” At this point, Master Yamazaki got his English on and shouted:
“Third step––MORE basic practice! Like Nike! Just do it!”
basic practice basic practice more basic practice! True Masters in any field are those people who are willing to commit themselves to the difficult, sometimes boring, often painful and quite often frustrating process of dedicated, focused, mindful practice. A lot of people are credited with these words of wisdom, 47
JIM BOUCHARD most notably a music professor named Percy C. Buck:
“an amateur practices until he gets it right. a professional practices until he can’t get it wrong!” That’s mastery in a nutshell. Do genuine Masters get bored? Do they feel the pain? Do they get frustrated? Of course they do––but when they get bored, they practice anyway. When they feel the pain, they know they’re getting stronger. They know that frustration is the well from which all wisdom springs! It’s not complicated. Mastery is the product of hard work, focus and perseverance. Dan Pink is right in emphasizing mastery as a key to motivation. Best of all, it’s a self-perpetuating cycle. Your enjoyment grows in direct proportion to your mastery. As your talents and skills expand, so do your opportunities–– so does your sense of purpose.
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS
Before you can lead others in the pursuit of mastery, you’ve got to master your “self.”
“mastering others is strength. mastering Yourself is true power.” ~lao tzu An effective leader practices self-mastery. Not mastery for the purpose of command and control over others, but rather as the continual commitment to self-improvement, learning, growth and development. If you want others to trust your leadership, respect your authority, and become partners in your vision, live as an example of genuine mastery.
More than any other quality of leadership, self-mastery is the one over which you have the most control. You can’t always control circumstances and conditions. You most certainly can’t always control people. You can’t control how people are going to react to your 49
JIM BOUCHARD decisions and actions as a leader. You can always learn and grow and perfect your talents, skills and abilities as a person––and as a leader. Your commitment and willingness to improve becomes a powerful force that inspires others—your primary role as a leader. Too many in leadership positions take a “do as I say and not as I do” approach to personal and professional development. This might work for 5 year-olds, but it carries no weight with your employees or the people you serve.
If you expect others to improve—improve yourself. As with everything we’re talking about, be a living example for the behavior and performance you expect from others. As you improve, you inspire improvement in others. This extends also to the concept of “partner leadership” where you openly solicit constructive feedback from others, including subordinates. If you expect others to improve, don’t just tell them what they need to change, ask them for their input on how you can improve, too. In Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work, Paul Marciano talks about the power in this concept of a productive partnership between leaders and followers:
Partners continually provide one another with ongoing supportive feedback. They do so 50
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS
out of respect for one another and because of their interest in achieving common goals. Thus, partners become each other’s best coaches and push one another to excel. When one partner improves, the overall skill level of the partnership increases. The problem with carrots and sticks is that people aren’t donkeys! People have a natural tendency toward collaboration. They’d rather be partners than beasts of burden, no matter what the potential rewards. This strategy helps you exploit the full potential of the “student to student” relationship we discussed earlier—an example of true partnership. Once again you see the capacity of sharing to increase performance. As each individual, up and down the line, shares feedback that contributes to individual improvement, the team and the organization improves, often exponentially. Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank said:
No matter how good you think you are as a leader, my goodness, the people around you will have all kinds of ideas for how you can get better. So for me, the most fundamental thing about leadership is to have the humility to continue to get feedback and to try to get better—because your job is to try to help everybody else get better. 51
JIM BOUCHARD For this dynamic to work successfully, everyone, including those at the top, must be committed to continual self-improvement. It may seem I’m obsessed to a degree with “self” improvement. Some people challenge me on that point. They’ll say that too much emphasis on self-improvement is, well––selfish.
I say that self-improvement is the least selfish thing you can do for others. As you improve yourself, you become more valuable to others. You become a greater resource to your team, your organization and your community. When everyone in an organization is committed to self-improvement––to personal and professional mastery––the entire organization becomes stronger, better, more productive, innovative and progressive. At the risk of beating the dead horse even more, even a small improvement in each individual produces an exponential return. I remember a story I once heard about a basketball coach who was trying to improve a struggling team. One of his first observations is that they were, as a team, lousy free-throw shooters. Many coaches in this case would focus either on the top shooters and try to get more production there, or would commit a large effort to improving the weakest shooters. 52
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS Instead, this coach set a goal. Every individual player would improve just one percent. Together, the gains of just one percent for each individual far exceeded what could reasonably be expected by trying to extract bigger gains from just a few players. It worked. With each player contributing something, the overall performance of the team skyrocketed. When each individual commits to the concept of personal mastery and continual self-improvement, the team and the organization become much more powerful.
EVEN THE SENSEI NEEDS A SENSEI If you want to lead and inspire others, start with you. This is one area in leadership where itâ€™s essential to provide an example from the top down. A genuine Master is always seeking out a new teacher. Sadly, many leaders stop looking for their next Master. Hereâ€™s a mind boggling revelation I found in an article by Nancy Zentis from the Institute of Organization Development blog:
A recent study of 200 companies conducted by Stanford University found: Nearly 66% of CEOs do not receive coaching or leadership 53
advice from outside consultants or coaches, while 100% of them stated that they are receptive to making changes based on feedback â€Ś â€Ś Lonely at the top resonates for most CEOs. In regard to coaching and development, what do business leaders need and want?
Many CEOs identified the need for coaching to improve these competencies: sharing leadership, delegation, conflict management, team building, and mentoring. These desirable competencies are exactly the traditional characteristics of the Sensei. The Sensei not only trains his own martial skills, but he also continually works to improve as a teacher, mentor and coach. An authentic Master embraces this process. Itâ€™s all about continual learning, growth and development, no matter how high you are in rank, authority or responsibility. This part of the article really bothered me:
At the bottom were softer skills such as: motivation, compassion/empathy, and persuasion. 54
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS At the bottom? You don’t lead process—you don’t lead systems or equipment.
You lead people! And people require compassion, empathy and sometimes even persuasion! Don’t ignore the power of these so called “soft” skills. Your ability to motivate, express compassion, inspire, encourage, and persuade are your most powerful assets as a leader.
PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT AND PROFESSIONAL PERFORMANCE ARE INSEPARABLE An article from Harvard Business Review, “Making Business Personal,” highlights two remarkable companies that embrace this principle:
These companies operate on the foundational assumptions that adults can grow; that not only is attention to the bottom line and the personal growth of all employees desirable, but the two are interdependent; that both profitability and
individual development rely on structures that are built into every aspect of how the company operates; and that people grow through the proper combination of challenge and support, which includes recognizing and transcending their blind spots, limitations, and internal resistance to change. It’s time for more organizations to get on board. Over the years I’ve had countless people tell me that their practice of martial arts, or their understanding of the philosophy, has opened new levels of performance and achievement. Why? It’s certainly not the kicking and punching. You can achieve the same results in any challenging, meaningful, worthwhile pursuit. It’s the combination of “challenge and support” emphasized in the HBR piece. People grow in direct response to challenge. Ability, skill, talent as well as confidence and competency all grow in direct proportion to the level of challenge you face and opportunities available to test yourself under pressure. People grow through the martial arts experience because it is challenging and because they develop with the support and encouragement of the Sensei and their peers. You want people to grow? 56
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS Be a supportive, nourishing leader. Develop a culture that encourages and supports development and rewards learning, growth and development at all levels. The HBR article continues …
Every job should be like a towrope, so that as you grab hold of the job, the very process of doing the work pulls you up the mountain. Cultivate an environment where people enthusiastically embrace new challenges. Be a model of that enthusiasm. The mettle of a warrior is only tested in battle—you need challenges to discover and develop the highest levels of performance.
If you want to lead warriors–– Be a warrior.
IF YOU WANT TO LEAD MASTERY, BE THE MASTER As I keep saying, a true Master is never finished and never satisfied. Keep that ideal of Beginnerâ€™s Mind we talked about earlier and embed that mindset in your organization. The process of mastery demands:
constant introspection a willingness to be open to sincere and productive criticism
an enthusiasm for accepting new challenges and opportunities for growth
the courage to risk failures in pursuit of greater achievement
Embed this mindset of Mastery throughout your organizationâ€™s culture. 58
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS Cultivate your own mastery, and support each individual in your organization in their pursuit of mastery—from leadership to the front lines.
“i fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but i fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” ~bruce lee
4. ask before you’re asked–– aCt before you’re asked
“do You want to know who You are? don’t ask. act! action will delineate and define You.” ~thomas jefferson Leaders lead and many times that means being first. Be first to accept a new challenge, to volunteer for an assignment, to offer a new perspective. Most of all this means be first to do what needs to be done. While others are waiting around wondering who is going to make the first move, strap on your belt, roll up your sleeves 61
JIM BOUCHARD and get to it. Be careful. This doesn’t mean jumping authority or going over someone’s head. And it certainly doesn’t mean purposely knocking someone else down so you can move up.
Ask before you’re asked. This means when you see that something needs to be done, go to your supervisor and offer your services.
Act before you’re asked–– When appropriate. As I just said, it’s not about usurping authority, but sometimes action is what’s needed and it’s not always necessary or possible to wait for orders. When I was young I was a volunteer firefighter. As first responders, we faced this challenge all the time. I can remember arriving first on the scene before there were line officers. If we heard someone crying out for help, we wouldn’t wait for orders, we’d jump into the fire and help–– Right? Sometimes. That may very well be the right move. Training and the level of urgency of the situation would dictate the right course of action. I remember one particular incident where I was one of 62
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS the first on the scene of a car accident. The driver was still in the car, the engine was fully engulfed in flames and the windshield was smashed out. There was nothing between the driver and the fire and the situation was getting worse by the second. I didn’t have time to worry about orders. My training and instinct took over and with another firefighter, we pulled the driver from the car. In another fire, however, I remember being blown out of a building because someone jumped the chain of command. Had a command officer been on the scene, and one arrived just moments later, a much different strategy would have been used and the resulting explosion would likely not have happened. There are times to act first. There are also times when the first action should be to keep calm, cool the situation and wait for someone with the proper authority or experience to order the appropriate action. Experience, training, immediate risk and respect for authority all play a part in these decisions. In the first scenario, there was no time to wait for orders. It turned out in that case that the driver was highly intoxicated and had suffered a severe blow to the head in the crash. Had we waited, I have no doubt he would have died or been terribly burned. In the second scenario, immediate action was not necessary––and it wasn’t the right move. Or to look at it another way, the newly promoted line officer could have 63
JIM BOUCHARD shown initiative simply by getting us in position ready for orders from a command officer. In his eagerness to prove himself, he jeopardized the lives of several men. Fortunately, none of us suffered anything worse than singed hair and few bruises. In most cases you’ll be showing remarkable initiative by simply asking before you’re asked. In most cases, that’s the prudent, diplomatic and correct way to lead. However––when you’re confronted with an urgent decision and nobody in authority is on the scene, a leader has the courage to act. An aspiring leader must also demonstrate courage when you know that someone is abusing authority or acting improperly. A leader does what’s right even if it’s not comfortable. A courageous leader is going to act even if there’s risk or danger to self. An aspiring leader does the right thing even if that jeopardizes your position or standing. You may in fact anger your supervisor. The company might not act properly and may even punish you for taking action. You might lose your job. So be it. If you truly want to be a leader––lead. You’ll find other opportunities. This is a test of your ability to lead––don’t let it pass. 64
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS We need leaders who are willing to step up––to ask before being asked and act before being asked. You’ve got to balance the weight of inertia––counter the masses who go about life content in their roles as serial witnesses. Do this and you’ll separate yourself from the herd. I’ll take a little liberty with the words of John F. Kennedy:
ask not what others can do for You–– ask what You can do for others. That’s what makes a leader.
5. learn to deal With unCertainty “sweet are the uses of adversitY which, like the toad, uglY and venomous, wears Yet a precious jewel in his head.” ~shakespeare One of the greatest challenges facing young and aspiring leaders to today is the ability to deal with uncertainty. Get over it. I really don’t want to jump on the soapbox here, but as I write this in 2015 we’ve witnessed dozens of headlines from all over American campuses where students are protesting 67
JIM BOUCHARD to establish “safe spaces.” Instead of marching for freedom, they’re demanding that administrators inject themselves further into their personal lives through sexual consent forms––they want bans on offensive Halloween costumes and speakers who might not validate their comfortable view of the world. We have several new terms to grapple with––to help us avoid grappling with reality. We now talk about “micro-aggressions” and “triggers.” Instead of calling someone out for being a jerk, students want more authoritarian involvement in the form of committees and campus resources where they can safely report these anguishing transgressions and have someone else deal with it––so they won’t be stressed out. In the most horribly ironic twist, many campuses have established “free speech zones.” This Orwellian device restricts any potentially upsetting expression to a usually remote part of campus, lest such expression cause discomfort or mental agony. Look––life is tough. Strap on your belt and get in the ring. There is nothing more crippling to the human spirit than hiding from reality. Want to grow as a leader? Embrace difficulty. Face your fears. Welcome the challenge.
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS
CELEBRATE ADVERSITY As the modern proverb says, “Sh*t happens.” And some of the sh*t that happens is unforeseen and unpredictable. It took me a long time to understand this, but the only real certainty in life is uncertainty. Life is change, and for a leader, that reality is amplified by your responsibility to guide others through all this change and uncertainty. If you’re going to be an effective leader, you’d best get comfortable with it. Believe it or not, uncertainty is intimately connected to confidence. Uncertainty can shake your confidence––or it can be an opportunity to develop the genuine confidence that distinguishes a true leader. Confidence is one of the most important qualities you must develop if you want to accomplish anything meaningful. For leaders, confidence is an essential ingredient if you want others to follow you willingly. Still- confidence is one of the most poorly understood characteristics of human behavior, and that makes it hard to get a grip on it! Here’s the rub: Confidence is NOT surety in an outcome! Executive strategist Eric Douglas posted a commentary on 69
JIM BOUCHARD LinkedIn recently. Citing a study on the relationship of confidence and certainty, he found:
“Leaders who were confident but relatively uncertain were viewed as more effective, more likely to foster creative thinking and independent thinking. Those who were confident and certain were viewed as authoritarian and inflexible.” How can confidence and uncertainty be the right combination for an effective leader? How can uncertainty and confidence even fit together in the same head space? Again- because confidence is NOT surety of outcome. The dictionary definition of confidence most useful to this discussion is:
noun: belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities; self-confidence; selfreliance; assurance I researched several definitions and I couldn’t find a reference to an outcome or result anywhere. But isn’t it confidence when a fighter calls the round for a knockout or a football player guarantees victory? 70
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS Not always. Sometimes that’s just plain arrogance. More often than not, that’s a mask that covers insecurity instead of a display of true confidence. True confidence is often expressed more subtly; what we call “humility.” It’s a quiet reserve that shows that a person does believe in his or her own power- the capacity to perform effectively in any given moment, but that genuine sense of confidence is independent of outcome. In most situations and I’d argue in nearly any meaningful situation, it’s impossible to predict the outcome with absolute certainty. There are too many moving parts and changing conditions that can alter the end results. What can be guaranteed with absolute certainty is your preparation and training. You can prepare to the best of your ability and face the challenge at hand with absolute certainty that you’ve done everything you can to do your best in this moment… …win, lose or draw. That’s why confident people walk away from a defeat ready to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and start all over again. This is the type of confidence that makes a leader attractivewhether that leader is in a position of authority or command, or standing shoulder to shoulder with you in the trenches. This is the type of confidence that will make you an effective 71
JIM BOUCHARD person- and an effective leader at any level whether you want to work in command and control or on the front lines. You cannot guarantee an outcome- but you can guarantee that you’ve trained your best to give your best when you face your toughest challenges.
“the onlY thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertaintY; not knowing what comes next.” ~ursula k. le guin
CELEBRATE ADVERSITY How’s that for a new bumper sticker? You don’t always choose your battles. You can, of course, actively seek out increasing challenges. When those challenges are thrown at you without your consent, we call that “adversity.” Think of adversity as a challenge you just might not have been looking for! 72
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS I’m grateful for adversity. I celebrate adversity. OK- maybe not exactly when I’m in the middle of the storm––but certainly once I’m through a rough patch and can look back and see how far I’ve come. This is why I can now be thankful that I experienced life as a drug abuser. I can now appreciate the challenges of poverty, illness and injury. I can find some measure of gratitude for periods of depression and even my worst moments when I seriously contemplated suicide. I’m also grateful I survived all that crap and can now move forward and enjoy life! Adversity gives you the opportunity to test your mettle. As you overcome adversity you develop new skills, talents and resources. You discover and cultivate a new and improved you. Adversity is an opportunity to expand your potential and reach new levels of peak performance. Adversity also teaches humility in the sense that you appreciate the good times and you avoid the arrogance that may lead you to think that you’re immune. There’s plenty of opportunity for practice! One great thing about adversity is that there’s always plenty of it to go around! So… 73
celebrate adversitY! adversitY is Your opportunitY to become the person You maY never have imagined without it!
to talk and Write good I hope you get the joke. You don’t write “good,” you write “well.” This timeless example demonstrates the complexity of the English language. There are a lot of rules and exceptions you need to know to communicate clearly and effectively. In 8 STRATEGIES for EFFECTIVE LEADERS I highlight the importance of being a skilled communicator. Strong communications skills are essential if you’re going to be taken seriously as a potential leader. We live in an age of 140 character Tweets and sound bites. Abbreviations and acronyms have become a part of our daily conversations. Latest editions of the Oxford Dictionary, considered the gold standard of the English language, routinely add slang terms that are often outdated by the time the new edition rolls off the presses. 75
JIM BOUCHARD The Pew Research Center reports that…
“A considerable number of educators and children’s advocates worry that James Billington, the Librarian of Congress, was right when he recently suggested that young Americans’ electronic communication might be damaging ‘the basic unit of human thought – the sentence.’ They are concerned that the quality of writing by young Americans is being degraded by their electronic communication, with its carefree spelling, lax punctuation and grammar, and its acronym shortcuts.” Texting and instant messaging are most certainly the major culprits in the degradation of our writing skills, particularly for young people. These short format styles of communication are simply more efficient using short-cuts, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. You do, however, need to know when and where to use casual forms of communication, and when and where shortcuts and colloquialisms might send the wrong message. Leaders are expected to know what they’re talking about, and that starts with talking so that others will understand your message. There is a trend toward more conversational or casual expression in business writing and speaking. I use a fairly casual style when I speak. This is who I am and if I were to be too formal in my speech, I would not come across as authentic. 76
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS At the same time I’m very careful to choose words and expressions that everyone in the audience will understand–– or I take the time to explain. Therein lies the problem with the written word. While I do my best to maintain a conversational tone in my writing, I am very conscious of the fact that as you read this, I’m not there to clarify my meaning. You can’t see my body language. When I write I’ve got to stick to the rules a bit more to make sure that what you read is really what I want to say. From THE SENSEI LEADER:
“who You are as a leader becomes realitY in the minds and hearts of others through what You saY, how You saY it, and most importantlY, how people hear You.” As a leader you must communicate in a way that makes your words an accessible expression of your thoughts, ideas and feelings. When you rely too heavily on the latest slang or use language that’s specific to your peer group, you run the risk of alienating anyone who isn’t part of that inner circle. When you express yourself poorly, you’re just marking yourself as ignorant, immature or just plain stupid. Which sounds more appropriate in a message from a 77
JIM BOUCHARD business leader? “This message is confidential” or “Let’s keep this on the down-low,”? To communicate effectively and to project confidence and trustworthiness, a leader must pay careful attention to every and all forms of expression. Your dress for particular occasions, your manners, your body language and your spoken words must all work together to support, not contradict the message you’re trying to express. There is a ton of material available on body language and nonverbal communication. Study it. Researchers like Albert Mehrabian have long maintained that consistency between verbal and nonverbal is essential if you want people to trust and believe you. Of the two, nonverbal seems to be the most important. Mehrabian is quoted in a PsychologyToday.com article:
“When there are inconsistencies between attitudes communicated verbally and posturally, the postural component should dominate in determining the total attitude that is inferred.” Simply put, this means that if you’re paying attention, you better look as if you are. If you’re paying attention to someone––look at them. When you are talking as an expert, stand tall. If you’re not hiding anything, keep your hands out of your pockets. If want to be taken seriously, don’t roll your eyes. Communication can be formal––and it can be casual. 78
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS Coming from a leader, it must always be consistent Casual, by the way, doesn’t mean sloppy. In my martial arts centers I completely banned “ums” and “likes.” Like, um, I don’t like know what the hell you’re, like, saying, when, um, like you use too many ums and likes.
“like” indicates a comparison. don’t use it as a filler. the word “go” implies movement. if bobbY “goes,” he needs to move from one place to another.
using “go” as a substitute for “saYs” is just not right. how about “bobbY be like …”? no. bobbY is. bobbY maY be. bobbY might saY. bobbY is never “be like.” 79
JIM BOUCHARD Once again––you may get away with a degree of casual expression when speaking, particularly in an informal setting. I’d caution you to remember, however, that anyone who can hear you is forming an impression based on how you speak. When you write, you can’t take it back. As soon as you press print or send, your words are part of your resume. Be sure your written expression is making the impression you intend. Another huge problem with written communication is that in the moment, it’s entirely one-way. As I said, when I’m in the room with you, I can explain myself if I see confusion on your face. If you really don’t understand what I said, you can ask me to clarify. On the page I’ve got to make sure, to the best of my ability, that what I write is exactly what I want you to hear. I’ve got to put myself in your head and try to “hear” my voice as it will sound when you’re seeing my words. To that end it’s absolutely essential that I choose the right words and construct my sentences thoughtfully. Use the right words. A sentence forms a complete thought. A paragraph organizes a series of thoughts that make sense together. And yes, a sentence can be a paragraph. The word is the basic building block. Choose the right one––we’ve got plenty to choose from. Slow, plodding and onerous all have similar meanings, but each one paints a different picture and emotes a different feeling. 80
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS Expand your vocabulary––continually. Words are like paints on an artist’s palette. A larger vocabulary gives you the ability to express yourself with greater clarity, emotion and meaning. Use your spellcheck. There is no excuse for spelling errors in the digital era. Proof everything before you send it. Spellcheck is a powerful tool, but it to has it’s limitations.
Did you notice that I used “to” instead of the proper spelling for that context, which would be “too”? There is a vast difference in meaning between to, too and two, but spellcheck only tells you that your spelling is right, not that your use is correct. You’ve still got to watch your homophones, homographs and words that are just plain similar. Here are some common mistakes that make you sound like a loser instead of a leader: • Using effect in place of affect has a bad effect. • Council is where you’re going for the meeting counsel might be what you do when you get there. • Confusing assure or ensure with insure can be a costly 81
JIM BOUCHARD mistake in business. As soon as you “insure,” you’re most definitely on the hook. • Dual means two. Duel means fight. • I hope you know the difference between accept and except. • In my life as a fighter I learned that there is a vast difference between martial arts and marital arts. • In business there is an important distinction between a personal matter and a personnel matter. • And if you really want to look ignorant, go ahead and mix your, you’re or their and there. •So… “So” has become an invasive filler. So––don’t use it. So––some people use “so” to start nearly every sentence or paragraph. So–you see my point.
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS
THE “I THINK” DEFECT General George S. Patton said:
i can tell a commander bY the waY he speaks.…a good commander will never express an opinion!
no one cares what Your opinion is! Never use the words, “In my opinion, I believe, I think, or I guess …” As I write this book we’re fully engaged in the first rounds of choosing what most people view as our most prestigious, if not important leadership positions––President of the United States. Listen to any of our current crop of Presidential candidates and you’re going to hear a lot of “I thinks!” Granted, “I think” has become a common semantic filler these days, but it’s certainly not a semantic construct that instills confidence. I analyzed the Time.com transcript from a single FOX News GOP debate. The candidates resorted to “I think” twentythree times. That may not sound too excessive, but when you consider there were eleven people on that platform and that each had only a few precious minutes to impress us as 83
JIM BOUCHARD a leader, it’s troubling that nearly every candidate would give us an “I think” at least twice when addressing our most important and pressing issues. Let’s look at just one statement and how it would have been much more impactful without the I thinks. I’m not picking on Rand Paul and I’m not here to endorse or disparage any particular candidate, but this quote provides a terrific example for our discussion:
“Each one of my budgets has taken a meat axe to foreign aid, because I think we ought to quit sending it to countries that hate us. “I think we ought to quit sending it to countries that burn our flag.” That’s two “I thinks” in the same statement! Let’s contrast Paul’s statement with a response from Carly Fiorina. Here’s a statement without the I think tone:
“When America does not lead, the world is a dangerous and a tragic place. This is a bad deal. Obama broke every rule of negotiation.” Which is the voice of a leader? Who sounds more presidential––Paul or Fiorina? I want to state clearly once again––I don’t care what your politics are. It’s not important whether you agree or disagree with the candidates’ positions. Just examine their rhetorical 84
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS style as an indicator of each person’s level of confidence and an expression of leadership capability. Let’s look at Ron Paul’s statement without the I thinks:
“Each one of my budgets has taken a meat axe to foreign aid, because we ought to quit sending it to countries that hate us. “We ought to quit sending it to countries that burn our flag.” Isn’t that a much more confident statement? Eliminating the I thinks gives Paul’s words weight and power. His words now invoke surety and confidence. And here’s what Fiorina’s statement would feel if she added the supererogatory “I thinks”:
“I think that when America does not lead, the world is a dangerous and a tragic place. I think this is a bad deal. I think Obama broke every rule of negotiation.” Think I overdid it? The I Think Defect is not limited to political candidates–– Listen to the pundits, experts and business leaders commenting on the race, or on the economy, foreign policy, business or anything else for that matter. 85
JIM BOUCHARD I sincerely hope your ears are now a little better tuned and that when you hear the words “I think,” it will sound out like a sour note. It’s not always wrong to say “I think.” It indicates that you’re expressing an opinion. You may want to imply that you have not examined all the details or facts and that what your current thoughts may be subject to change. In those cases, fine––say “I think.” When you’re sure about what you’re saying––and you want us to believe that you know what you’re talking about–– don’t say “I think.” Just tell us what you know.
if You want to be a leader, write, talk and act like one.
on exPerienCe over reWards When I listen to leaders and managers today, they tell me that “entitlement mentality” is one of the biggest obstacles for aspiring leaders. Too often candidates freshly minted out of college show up at their first job interview with a predetermined list of demands or a set idea of what they “deserve.”
You “deserve” nothing––until you prove your actual value––through performance. One of my friends is a stock trader. When he started, the standard for hiring was a college diploma. His degree was not even in finance or business; he held a degree in English. Times have changed. His firm now requires an MBA for consideration for entry level stock trading and broker positions. The degree is required just to qualify for the chance 87
JIM BOUCHARD to train for those positions. He asked me if I knew what “MBA” stands for. “Of course,” I said, “Master of Business Administration.” “No,” he replied, “It means––might be acceptable!” Aspiring leaders are competing for recognition and opportunities in a crowded market and employers in many domains have plenty of great candidates to choose from. If you really want to excel and exploit opportunities for advancement, it’s important to stop focusing on the rewards. You’re not there yet.
FOCUS ON THE EXPERIENCE This means taking full advantage of every opportunity to gain experience and on-the-job knowledge, no matter how insignificant or menial it might look at the time. The part-time job you take running the night shift at a burger joint to pay your student loans may be more valuable to you in the long run than taking a paper pushing job that promises higher pay and company expense account. A couple of years ago I was doing a workshop for aspiring entrepreneurs. I asked each of them to give us a quick 88
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS summary of what kind of business they were starting. One guy said he was starting a restaurant. He had a lot of his ducks in a row. He had a good business plan, he had a solid vision and had researched his market and competition. As far as administrative skills were concerned, he knew what he was doing––he had been a corporate executive for years. He was starting over because he had been aged-out of the position he held for about 30 years. He even had strong financial backing from friends who had encouraged him–– which led me to my next question. “With all your experience in business, why are you going to open a restaurant?” I already knew the answer––I’ve heard it a hundred times in these workshops: “Well, all my life people have told me what a great cook I am.” “Have you ever worked in a restaurant?” Again I knew the answer. For the record, he said no. I told him the best advice I could give him right now was to go get a job in a restaurant. Not only did I tell him not to apply for a management position, but I told him he should start at the very bottom. “Wash dishes, mop floors, wait on tables––do anything to get you inside the restaurant business 89
JIM BOUCHARD and learn it from the bottom up!” I had to add, “The best thing you’re going to learn is that you either love it––or hate it! Either way, it’s better to find out now before you risk what you have left of your life savings!” I don’t just pick on the restaurant business. This philosophy works for every business, martial arts included. Nowhere was this experience gap wider than in the financial markets before the big meltdown of 2008. In his book, The Big Short, Michael Lewis describes an entire generation of eager young “executives” who earned big money, but did nothing but process forms and operate what amounted to a legal gambling scheme. Few of these people became the business leaders of the future. Most of them were simply glorified high-tech assembly line workers, without the invaluable practical experience working with their hands would have provided. As soon as the proverbial shit hit the fan, these young financial mercenaries were lost. They had no real skills; many in fact did not even understand the economic basics that made their short, albeit profitable careers possible. They didn’t understand the true functions of the mortgage market. They didn’t really know how the derivative markets worked or how to protect assets with real capital. They were simply playing a high-stakes video game. Eventually they lost––and so did we. What became of these people? Watch The Wolf of Wall 90
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS Street and you’ll get a pretty good idea. What if more of them had passed on the lucrative bonuses and fast paced lifestyle and instead focused on positions that would give them solid experience in building, growing and managing a business? What if they delayed instant financial gratification for sound leadership training? What if, instead of ripping us all off, they turned their energies to providing real value?
MEANING & PURPOSE You’ll provide much more value and enjoy more substantive and lasting rewards if you focus on doing something with meaning and purpose. Focus on doing something that excites you, something that brings you joy–– Not just something that builds the resume. Warren Buffet puts it this way:
“There comes a time when you ought to start doing what you want. Take a job that you love. You will jump out of bed in the morning. I think you are out of your mind if you keep taking 91
jobs that you don’t like because you think it will look good on your resume. Isn’t that a little like saving up sex for your old age?” A word of caution, though. Pop culture gurus make a lot of money these days selling you the idea that the most important key to success is passion. That’s a load of crap. In some of my workshops I give everyone a red plastic bowl and a spoon. I don’t explain at all. Some people inevitably anticipate a treat––a nice bowl of ice cream or something of the kind. With each guess I just say, “You’ll see.” After a while, they beg me to tell them what the bowls are all about. At one particular event, I knew my audience had just listened to a presenter who pumped them full of “follow your passion” juice. I’m not drinking from that cup. I told them to pick up their spoons, fill their bowls with all the passion they could muster––and take a great big bite! No––you can’t eat passion. Passion isn’t going to put one copper cent in your bank account and passion isn’t going to pay your rent. I said that with all due respect to the previous speaker, I’ve never met anyone who succeeded on passion alone. Passion is an important factor in our self-motivation, but 92
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS it’s no substitute for blood, sweat and tears. The trick is not as much to look for that one thing that really excites your passion, though that’s nice when it happens, but rather to approach anything you do with passion––right here and right now. The other problem is that you can be quite passionate about something no one else really cares about. A lot of people go broke and crazy chasing a passion that can’t support their ambitions. No––instead of passion, focus on meaning and purpose. Find something meaningful that also gets your juices flowing. That’s the key to genuine success––no matter how much money you make. Bill Gates once said, “Paul and I, we never thought that we would make much money out of the thing. We just loved writing software.” Bill Gates and Paul Allen focused their energy on what they did well, what they enjoyed doing and what brought real value to the world. They’ve done alright for themselves with that strategy. It’s not ironic that as you find meaning, you’ll find what is likely to bring you your greatest rewards, materially as well as emotionally and spiritually. Am I saying that if you find the meaning of life, you’ll be wealthy and successful? Well, in a way, yes! 93
JIM BOUCHARD Years ago one of my martial arts students, Paul and I were discussing the age old question: “What, exactly, is the meaning of life?” He had an interesting response that I’d forgotten about until today. He said: “The meaning of life is to pick something to do––and do it well.” That simple idea sums up the process and purpose of Mastery in one feel swoop, as well as providing a damn good explanation for the meaning of life. Let’s take the first part of Paul’s philosophy: ”Pick something to do.” Unlike dogs, crocodiles or goldfish as far as we know, we’re the only creature on earth that actually worries about our meaning and purpose. We’re also the only creature, as far as we know, that can decide for ourselves exactly what our lives mean. What would you like your life to mean, to you and to others? You can think of this in an over-arching sense, like being a decent person. You can think of it specifically, as in becoming 94
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS a parent and raising children, succeeding in business or pursuing an art, craft or trade. It’s likely that your life has meaning on several of these levels––and one doesn’t need to cancel or diminish any other. There is a problem, however. Life is short. In one lifetime, you’ve got enough time to be a jack of many trades, Master of one or two––OK––if you’re the next Leonardo DaVinci, maybe three or four. Think about it––mastering a particular skill, trade or craft takes anywhere from 4 to 10 dedicated years of dedicated practice and training. It just takes time––and if you want to continue to develop in a particular area you’ve got to budget time to keep the sword sharp in that skill as you master another. This brings us to the second part of Paul’s tenet–– “Do it well.” A Master does not settle. A true Master is happy in the pursuit, but never fully satisfied. There is always room for learning, growth and development. When you’re confident in your abilities, then the challenge is to find new ways to expand, share or apply your talents. The cool thing is that it is a purpose in and of itself. When you’re fully engaged in the process of Mastery, your life has true meaning. The meaning is in mastering your chosen pursuit. The only addition I’ll make to Paul’s idea is to again 95
JIM BOUCHARD emphasize the importance of choosing something worthwhile––a pursuit that adds value to your life and the lives of those around you. That can be quite subjective. An artist or musician can contribute as much value to our lives as can a craftsman, a merchant, a statesman or a political leader. You add value simply by dedicating yourself to living a decent life and caring for the people in your closest circle. Some people challenge me on this point by saying that Mastery sounds, in a way, kind of selfish. It’s certainly true that a dedicated pursuit of any skill requires a lot of self-centered focus. However––
The least selfish thing you can do for others is to improve your Self. When you improve yourself, you become a more valuable resource to the people closest to you and to the community at large. You become more valuable to the people you work for––and the people who work for you. You become much more valuable to the people who trust your guidance, counsel and leadership. I’ve invested a lot of time thinking about “the meaning of life” problem, probably far too much time. I’ve found some inspiring and profound answers to the question. I haven’t found any better than Paul’s. 96
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS
“pick something to do––and do it well.” paul edwards That’s Mastery.
“choose a job You love, and You will never have to work a daY in Your life.”
~confucius And yes––that’s the key to genuine success and a hallmark of a genuine leader, at any level.
by sharing, not aCCuMulating “the wise man does not laY up his own treasures. the more he gives to others, the more he has for his own.” ~lao tzu Share unconditionally––with no expectation of return. You grow as a leader, and as a person, in direct proportion to what you’re willing to share with others. You bring out the best in others not because you expect anything from them, 99
JIM BOUCHARD but because you’re willing to extend your best self first.
Everything is backwards today … People demand respect before they offer it. They only love when they think they’ll get love in return. They feel entitled to a certain price for their presence before they prove their value. It’s fair and reasonable to expect a return in some areas. You should expect to be paid for your work. You should also expect to compensate others for the time, goods and services you get from them. True freedom depends on the opportunity for each party to benefit from these exchanges, and it’s right to expect those benefits when you are trading tangible goods and delivering true value. On the other hand, there are certain things that only expand through sharing. In these areas, you only receive when you’re willing to give—and you receive the most when you expect nothing in return.
Three things you should give unconditionally are love, respect, and wisdom. You expand your power as a leader by expanding the power of your followers. You do this by teaching and by sharing your love, respect, and wisdom unconditionally. You’ve got to trust that people will take what you give them and do something useful with it, whether it comes back to you directly or not. 100
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS What you can teach and what you are willing to share are your most valuable resources as a leader.
SHARE POWER Your own power, your effectiveness as a leader, only expands through sharing. Shelley Kirkpatrick and Edwin Locke explain in an article quoted in The Leader’s Companion:
… power is an ‘expandable pie,’ not a fixed sum; effective leaders give power to others as a means of increasing their own power. Effective leaders do not see power as something that is competed for but rather as something that can be distributed to followers without detracting from their own power. There is nothing more inspiring to your followers than your commitment to help them become more powerful.
The source of all human power resides in the body, mind and spirit. 101
JIM BOUCHARD You’d think this would be common sense—you’ve got to take care of yourself in body, mind and spirit if you want to be happy and successful and perform to your full potential. To share the power, you’ve got to share the source. You’ve got to provide the support and resources for people to develop in body, mind and spirit. I ring this bell again and again, personal development and professional performance are inseparable. If you want people to perform effectively, develop the person. Why do so many leaders fail to support and invest in the personal development of the people who serve their organizations, especially in mind and spirit? I think this is because it’s so difficult to measure an exact return on investment in these areas. As difficult at it is to measure, the negative impact you get when you don’t invest in these areas is frightening. The cost of not sharing the power—of not developing people in these source areas, does eventually show up on your bottom line. This expense shows up in the form of diminished performance, disengagement, surging health care expenses and lost time. It shows up in the costs of replacing under-inspired employees and leaders who leave in search of better opportunities so they can seek their true potential. For American businesses, these losses amount to billions of dollars every year.
What is your share of that cost? 102
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS
SUPPORT THE BODY The data is indisputable––healthy people are simply more productive. Invest in proactive health initiatives and you reduce sick time, health insurance costs, injuries and lawsuits.
It’s that simple.
SUPPORT THE MIND Support your people emotionally and invest in both their personal and professional development. People who are supported emotionally are much more productive too. They are more engaged and far less likely to waste time. They’re also far more creative and better equipped to solve problems and deal with adversity. People who feel supported in their personal and professional development stay longer and they work harder when they’re with you. 103
JIM BOUCHARD Be proactive in identifying people’s talents and cultivating their best talents. Give them opportunities to grow. Cultivate and encourage strong networks, peer support and productive group dynamics.
SUPPORT THE SPIRIT This is where you share vision, meaning and purpose.
You want more engaged people? Give them a clear purpose and share a meaningful vision that works for both the individual and the organization. Want to measure this? Call it “spiritual capital.” You’ll see spiritual capital in the form of loyalty, dedication and full engagement. If you want to lead a powerful organization, you’ve got to share the power. You do this by developing people—in body, mind and spirit.
SHARE AUTHORITY You can’t do it all by yourself, and people rise to much higher levels of performance when they have more autonomy and 104
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS control over their own work. Give people the authority and the resources they need to create and implement the solutions that will resolve the current challenge. I know I quote Patton a lot. I have my reasons—here’s one of them …
“never tell people how to do things. tell them what to do and theY will surprise You with their ingenuitY.”
SHARE THE CREDIT Another of my favorite Patton quotes:
“a general officer who will invariablY assume the responsibilitY for failure, whether he deserves it or not, and invariablY give the 105
credit for success to others, whether theY deserve it or not, will achieve outstanding success.” People want to be recognized for their efforts. They want credit when their work produces results and when their contributions are part of a greater success.
SHARE THE WEALTH! Studies continually show that financial incentives like bonuses are less motivating than a sense of purpose, autonomy and trust. Don’t use that data to justify behaving like a Scrooge. Money may not be the most important incentive, but it is still important. The flip side is how demotivating it is when the team pitches in to drive profits and the owner scoops up all the chips. So yes … when efforts yield profits, share the wealth! As I said, certain things should be shared unconditionally, with absolutely no expectation of return. This includes spiritual resources like love, respect, courage, compassion 106
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS and wisdom. Any attempt to measure a direct return on investment in these areas is nothing but an exercise in frustration. Material resources can be measured directly, and you should measure them. Spiritual resources are infinite—material resources are not! What’s important here is that you clearly define the parameters for sharing material wealth. People need to know they can expect fair compensation for their work and that they’ve got a stake in the organization’s success. There is nothing more discouraging and de-motivating than to work hard to help the company produce a windfall only to see leadership reward themselves with bonuses while the people at the front lines are cut out of the bounty. Dan Pink and others have clearly demonstrated that money is usually not the strongest motivator, and material incentives have only a limited effect on individual performance—but there’s a caveat. Money is a poor incentive only once a person’s basic material expectations are met. Until and unless a person feels he’s treated fairly, money matters—a lot. I’ll take another page from Sam Walton’s playbook:
“Share your profits with all your associates, and treat them as partners. In turn, they will treat you as a partner, and together you will all perform beyond your wildest expectations.” 107
JIM BOUCHARD Worked pretty well for him.
Once again it’s simple; don’t over complicate it. When the people who work for you help increase your wealth––share it.
SHARE SUCCESS Success is the goal that gives our lives meaning and purpose. Of course, that depends on exactly how you define success.
There is no “my success” when you’re a leader. It’s OUR success. I’ve become a cocky old bastard in some regards. Just after I turned 50, I proclaimed that I now know exactly what success is. When I make this declaration during a keynote or in a workshop, I can start a fight—and that’s a fight I’m willing to start! I can and will define success for you…
Success is simply feeling that you have enough in three major areas of your life–– 108
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS
Material, emotional and spiritual. That’s it. The fight usually starts when someone stands up to tell me that I can’t define what success means to anyone else. Well—I just did. What I did not do is tell you how much is “enough.” That’s completely up to you. I wouldn’t presume to tell anyone else how much they need to feel satisfied and successful. I do, however, know this as a fact: when you don’t feel as if you have enough, you cannot feel successful. You may even feel depressed or desperate. Poverty is not an empowering experience. There are some problems with success that make it elusive, changeable and sometimes difficult to recognize, even when you’re apparently successful. First—Success is not a fixed point. It’s difficult if not impossible for most people to identify a specific amount of money, a particular achievement, or even an ideal life partner that absolutely guarantees success. Next—Success is a feeling, and by definition, it’s impossible to objectively quantify a feeling. 109
JIM BOUCHARD Feelings are also extremely dynamic and fluid and sometimes subject to external forces beyond your control. The good news is that while feelings and emotions are difficult if not impossible to control, you can always control your response to them. Your response can in turn alter and shape your perceptions and feelings. Finally––Success is not about getting more—it’s about having enough. Enough doesn’t mean you need to have more than someone else, but unfortunately, that’s exactly how most people measure success—and that can leave you sadly disappointed. As a leader, your success is dependent upon the success of your followers. When they fail—you fail. When they’re suffering—you suffer too. Of course, the upside is that when they are successful—you are also successful. Having said that, an effective leader develops followers–– not dependent children. You are not solely responsible for each person’s individual success or failure. Your success as a leader, however, grows in direct proportion to your willingness to share that responsibility and in direct proportion to your investment in the success of each individual you serve. Show your people that you are truly committed to their success. That’s how you inspire your followers to create the abundance that defines success—for themselves, for the organization, and for you. 110
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS
In the end, success is something you and your followers produce together.––share it.
JUST SHARE One of the leaders I admire most is a neighbor of mine. Well, it would be more accurate to say that he once lived just a couple of blocks from where I do now. Unless you’re a serious Civil War buff, you might not know Joshua Chamberlain. He was almost lost to history until his memory was resurrected in Michael Shaara’s The Killer Angels and later in the movie Gettysburg, which introduced Chamberlain to a new generation. Chamberlain left a promising career at Bowdoin College to petition for a commission to serve in the Union Army. He would become a hero at Gettysburg. At the end of the war, he was chosen to accept the surrender of the Confederate troops at Appomattox where his decision to salute the Southern army earned him a place in history as one of our most compassionate––and controversial leaders. While his gesture angered some people in the North, it was greatly appreciated by the Southern troops and played a large part in healing the wounds of war on both sides. After the war, Chamberlain served as governor of Maine 111
JIM BOUCHARD and was a very popular speaker at Civil War reunions and other commemorative events. This is from his speech at the 100th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth …
crises in human affairs
call out the great in men.
greatness is not in nor of the single self; it is of that larger personalitY, that shared and sharing life with others, in which, each giving of his best for their betterment, we are greater than ourselves
Look for opportunities for sharing. Sharing is the action of expanding power. Through sharing, each of us becomes greater than any one of us alone. Your effectiveness as a leader is enhanced by your capacity and willingness to share. When you inspire others to share, you expand the power of the group––exponentially. I can sum up everything I know about leadership in one simple phrase… 112
8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS
Leadership is sharing—a leader shares.
Also the author of THE SENSEI LEADER and THINK Like a BLACK BELT––Jim Bouchard tours nationally teaching personal and professional Mastery and Leadership for corporate and conference audiences. He is a frequent guest on TV and radio programs including FOX News Live, BBC Worldview and FOX Across America. Jim is the founder of Northern Chi Martial Arts Center where he still serves as Master Instructor in Residence. An obsessive golfer, Jim lives in Brunswick, Maine with his wife and business partner, Alex.
THESENSEILEADER.COM THATBLACKBELTGUY.COM FOR BOOKING:
BLACK BELT MINDSET PRODUCTIONS
Move your career and life forward by becoming a leader––the SENSEI way. By Jim Bouchard, author of THE SENSEI LEADER.
Published on Apr 6, 2016
Move your career and life forward by becoming a leader––the SENSEI way. By Jim Bouchard, author of THE SENSEI LEADER.