Monthly Archives: August 2019

Courage – It Takes Heart

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photo credit: Maja Kochanowska @ majatraveis – unsplash

“When you hear them yell, “Man Overboard!”  What’s your first thought? What’s your first action?” – Claude Hamilton

Courage is a word that is tossed around but is not always fully understood in its application. When we talk about brave or courageous people, it is usually about other people, never ourselves. Somehow we have difficulty imagining ourselves as having courage We can toss the word around easily enough but is the essence of courage?

Courage is what has brought us to where are in history and courage is what we will need to go into the future. It is not a one time feeling for a singular choice or action; it is what is inside of us, a part of who we are. It is a muscle needing to be strengthened and trained. Courage is what is behind perseverance and not giving up even when everything in us screams that we should.

In his book entitled Toughen Up, author Claude Hamilton, a former member of an elite unit in the Canadian Armed Forces, discusses courage from his unique perspective. He wrote:

” Don’t show me a person’s résumé; show me what he or she is willing to fight or die for. Show me how much a person will keep doing the right thing even when it gets really hard.”

As he describes his training where he and others were being pushed to the very limits of their physical, mental and emotional capacity, where their minds and bodies were screaming to rest, he says they were learning an important lesson about courage. What would happen in that very moment when they heard “Man Overboard”?

“Our bodies cried out for us to just sit tight and get some air, but the whole point of the drill was to come face- to- face with our inner courage. Would our body win out? Would we sit up and try to breathe? Or would we leap to our feet and sprint to the call for help?……. It was a profound test. and we found out a lot about ourselves when we ran and jumped into the water, no matter how badly our bodies protested. Courage is like that; you really don’t know if you’ll use it until you do” (p.54)

Courage doesn’t just happen. We can not just call upon it when we have not trained ourselves to use it. We train ourselves for applying courage by doing the right things and making the right (and often hard) choices consistently even when doing so is not comfortable and is often tough   Courage is a habit built over time. Vince Lombardi said:

“Fatigue makes cowards of us all. Toughness is about preparing ourselves in such a way that fatigue has less power over us.”

We build our courage over time by doing the little things making the seemingly unimportant or unnoticed decisions day by day. We refuse to cut corners. We don’t listen to our excuses. We go the extra mile when no one else will We “toil upwards in the night while everyone else is “sleeping”.” People who build up the courage habit “build the right habits in the little things who generally have the natural courage to do the right things when it’s really hard” (p. 57)

In his book entitled Courage, author and business consultant Gus Lee talks about core values with three values being the highest:

  • Integrity
  • Courage
  • Character

He describes courage as being:

“The mental and moral strenght to venture, perservere and wiithstand danger, fear or difficulty”

He describes courage as being “the tip of the spear of integrity” It is what converts integrity into action. so, clearly, this author also agrees that courage is a habit of doing what is right over time. Courage forces us to confront, address and fix what is wrong, whether in ourselves or outside of ourselves. It is having the “guts” to do what we do not feel like doing. Gus Lee describes the opposite of courage as indifference.

We will all fail and we all have times where we quit. after all, we are human. But we should know that when we quit (fail to be courageous), we don’t just quit the thing (activity, situation, or circumstance) we say we are quitting; we are also quitting on ourselves, on our future and on those around us. Quitting is not an isolated decision. What would have happened if Winston Churchill had decided to “throw in the towel” and cave in to Hitler?  What would have happened if Harriet Tubman had decided enough was enough and had sought peace and security for herself? Courage takes us beyond ourselves to doing what we have trained ourselves to do and refusing to listen to ourselves and our feelings.

Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the ability to know that we are afraid but are willing to face the fear and march towards it. Fear allows us to be precautious, but courage is action.

“It is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what” – Harper Lee, author of To Kill A Mockingbird

Courage is also intricately conned to love. It is a quality of unselfishness and sacrifice. It defines what we stand for because ultimately what we stand for we will also sacrifice for. When we love something or someone (our country, our people, our family), we naturally are able to find the courage to stand up for them. Love gives us courage; it is that simple. There can be no courage without love. We call people courageous for doing things that maybe we wouldn’t be able to do, but if this “courageous act” is not unselfish or sacrificial, can it really be called courageous? We can not confuse courage with daring or foolhardiness.

Where there is courage, there will also be a risk. We must be willing to put our heart out on a limb and trust. As long as we are overprotective of ourselves and our feelings, we are in the service of fear. Nothing of any value can be defended, improved, or discovered without courage.

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore”. – Nobel Prize winner, André Gide

Lastly, it is important to remember that courage is not a reflection of our abilities, nor is it something some have, but others don’t. Courage comes from the heart. In fact, the very lexical root of the word courage is “heart”. It is what is in our heart that determines our ability to do a thing. We may feel like we are unable. We may feel like we want to quit or give up, but none of theses reactions are the reality; they are just feelings. Maybe we feel that we do not possess the ability to do something, but the heart ignores our excuses and our feelings and just does it.

“Whether you leap or run, slowly rise, or just sit there, the outcome will have been mostly determined weeks and months before by how well you did the little things that really matter. The habit of doing the right thing is the foundation of courage. So do the little things now. – Take courage and take action!” – Claude Hamilton

Did you enjoy this post? Please leave a comment below.

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, and the pursuit of a debt-free life. She loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 

 

 

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Why You Should Leave The Familiar Zone

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photo credit; Jeremy Bishop @jderemybishop – unsplash

“The reason I want you to focus on stepping out of your comfort zone is this: staying in your comfort zone is the surest way to never grow. By staying in your comfort zone you actually increase the chances of being unhappy and falling into a rut.” Raphael Huwiler, The Pain of Comfort

We All Have Our Fears and Doubts

Should we go for that new job?  Should we change jobs and take the chance on a new one?  Are we good enough to be able to compete? What will our family or our friends say? Should we try something new? Maybe we fear that we will fail or worse, that we will succeed and then what?  Our experience may have taught us that if we don’t measure up, it is no use trying and we should just stick to what we are able to do.

I have to say that I was this way for a long time. I would have intermittent sparks of “I can do this” and then “reality” would reappear and I would settle down to doing regular, normal things, living according to (my and others’) expectations.  In fact, I had often thought about writing. This very blog was supposed to have been started about 10 years ago, but I just put it off because I believed that I was not technologically savvy enough to get it off the ground.  But here I am, 10 years later, doing what I wanted to do.

Fear Is Debilitating

Fear can paralyze us and doubt, which is a family member of fear, literally convinces us to stay where we are by convincing us that we shouldn’t think about doing anything. Doubt makes us feel guilty for even thinking about it. How many times in our lives do we allow fear to keep us from doing what we would really love to do, from something that we know we should do? Fear can be helpful at times because it can keep us safe and keep us from doing things that might harm us. But imagined fear is a misuse of our creative mind. We borrow troubles from tomorrow which may not even materialize. It has been said that fear is F.E.A.RFalse evidence appearing real.

Maybe Our Comfort Zone Is Too Comfortable

As humans wen like to seek a comfort zone ( we like our creature comforts) in which where there are relatively few changes and we have our routine. And once we are there, we like to stay there because it is familiar and safe. It is our natural human tendency to look for a spot that is comfortable.  We could, alternatively, call it “the familiar zone“, since the zone isn’t really always that comfortable. Sometimes it is just what we have always known and lived with. The familiarity makes it safe, even if it may not necessarily be comfortable.

Living in the comfort zone may feel good, familiar and routine, but it can actually stop you from doing things that would help you to grow and be more impactful in the world around you. Opportunities are all around, but when we don’t take them because they are unfamiliar or would require change, we can miss out on them. Maybe we harbor doubts of not being good enough, brave enough or strong enough (mentally or physically) to step out and do what we would really like to do or what we have always imagined ourselves doing…. one day. The comfort ( familiar) zone can become a hindrance to doing something extraordinary that later on down the road we may wish we had had the courage to do. Opportunities come, but the can also pass us by when we don’t seize them.

It means that we choose not to take the shots in life for fear of missing the goal. Wayne Gretzky (famously) said:

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

The Story of Bob Smith

There was once a man who went to heaven and noticed a distinguished gentleman walking around. He asked one of the angels who he was.

“Why that’s Bob Smith, the greatest General who ever lived.”

The man entering heaven said, “Well, I know my history, I like to think and I don’t remember anything about a General named Bob Smith.”

The angel clarified: “Bob Smith would have been the greatest General who ever lived if  he had decided to serve in the military.”

This “General” had let fears and his comfort hold him back from doing something amazing in his life.

We can not move forward without changing. If we always do the same things in the same way as we have always done them, then we will simply get more of the same things. Nothing will change and nothing will improve. So what can we do?

Get Comfortable With the Facts

What does that mean? Well, it means (to borrow a sports analogy) we need to get used to checking the scoreboard. If we think we are doing okay, it is a good idea to check and see what the scoreboard of our life says. How are we doing according to what we said we would do? Are we getting the results in the different areas of our lives that we want? If not, there are probably some things to change. We can’t ignore the facts. We can either rationalize the scoreboard (of our life) away or we can reason with the scoreboard.  We can make excuses for why we are where we are or we can try to figure out why we have the results we have and try to change something. Either way, the scoreboard will keep score.

 We Always Have A Choice

In everything we do, we always have a choice and, by not making a choice, we are, in fact, making a choice.   We can respond to what is happening to us, to our life circumstances. We can decide to something different today or tomorrow.

We have and make choices (big and small) every day of our lives. The question is, are we making good choices or bad choices?  Also, the gap between the accumulation of bad choices over time and an accumulation of good choices over time can be absolutely dramatic. Our lives can take drastically different paths based on the choices we make over time.

Two individuals can start by having similar life circumstances and then, 10 years down the road, their lives may be dramatically different simply because of the choices they chose to make. Our thoughts – the way we think – can have a profound effect on the choices we make and on the outcome of our life circumstances.

  • We Have A Choice Of  Attitude

In everything we do and in every circumstance we have a choice. The circumstances do not determine or control how we think or react. We are entirely in control of and responsible for our attitude. We can choose to see the good in every situation. Is the glass half full or is it half empty? The circumstances of life will always be a mixture of positive and negative.

  • We Have A Choice Of Thought

We are constantly bombarded with negative thoughts like weeds in a garden. We can choose to listen to and affirm them or we can choose to stop them in their tracks and yank them out of our mind. We can be proactive at guarding our mind with thoughts that are true. Like the garden, if we pull out all the weeds, but don’t do anything else (proactively),  then more new weeds will grow in the place of the old weeds. We need to plant true information where the weeds were,

  • We Can Choose To Live Intentionally

We can actually be very busy and not get very much done or accomplish anything important. if we are busy but busy with unimportant or timewasting activity, then we are not using our time wisely or effectively. Life is far too short to be doing anything that wastes our time, takes us away from the people we love and cherish and from doing work that is both challenging and meaningful.  Life is too short to be spent on activities that deplete our physical and emotional energy.

  •  We Can Choose To Hold Ourselves Accountable

Are we doing what we told ourselves we would do? Are we making choices that are consistent with ourselves and our values?  Are we living a life consistent with what we would like to and feel called to do?  If we are not accountable to ourselves, it is hard to be accountable to anyone else. Our lives should be a reflection of who we are, what we value and what we believe. Being accountable to ourselves means that we have something – a measuring stick- by which to measure. This measuring stick can be our values and beliefs. Without a measuring stick, there is no accountability.

A line doesn’t know it’s crooked until it is held up to a straight line.

What Could You Do?

I think Dr. Seuss expressed it best. Here is an excerpt from “Oh The Places You’ll Go“. I’ll let Dr. Seuss have the last word:

Congratulations!

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down the streets. Look ’em over with care.
About some, you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you’ll head straight out of town.

It’s opener there
in the wide-open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And then things start to happen,
don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.

Was this post helpful to you? Please leave a comment below.

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, traveling, learning, and pursuing a debt-free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca


But.. I Said I Was Sorry – Apologies

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photo credit: Lina Trachez @imtrachezz – unsplash

Apologies aren’t meant to change the past, they are meant to change the future.Kevin Hancock, Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse

Saying “I’m sorry” is such a difficult thing to do for many of us.  For some of us, just gulping out the words is trying. Then when we finally manage to say it, we believe that everything will suddenly be alright, everything will be forgiven and forgotten. We are genuinely surprised when our apologies are met with distance or mistrust. How many of us have thought (or said) “But I said I was sorry”?  We may wonder “what didn’t they understand”?

Apologizing is hard to do because it gets to the heart of and comes against our pride. Admitting that we are wrong puts us in a position of humility and at the mercy of the one we are apologizing to. Because of this, we hope that a verbal apology of “I’m sorry” will restore the relationship back to normal.  But many times these words are not enough? Why is this?

According to Gary Chapman and Jenniffer Thomas in their book “When Sorry Isn’t Enough”,  we have “different languages of apology”. sometimes, they say, we ” need to go beyond a quick “I’m sorry”.

“We believe that when we all learn to apologize – and when we understand each other’s aplogy language – we can trade in tired excuses for honesty, trust and joy”.

Here are the languages of apology outlined in their book.

  1. Expressing Regret (Saying I’m sorry)

Saying the Magic Words is an expression of regret (normally). It is the emotional expression of our guilt or shame in causing hurt. It is a very good start because at least there is recognition of one’s actions.

Sometimes saying “I’m sorry” is exactly what the offended person is waiting to hear. They want to know that at least there is some understanding of wrongdoing or hurtful actions. Additionally, they often want it to be specific – “sorry for what”? By being specific the offending person communicates that he or she understands how their actions have hurt.

There are other aspects of saying “I’m Sorry”. Our body language needs to match up with our words in expressing our sincerity. sometimes the voice of our body language is louder than our words. Being specific (sorry for what?) is also important in communicating sincerity and it also shows that we understand how we have been hurtful. Finally, the apology should be enough. Adding “but”  discredits the apology.

2. Accepting Responsibility (I Was Wrong)

Often not accepting responsibility is “tied to our sense of self-worth,” the authors say. It can feel like showing that we are weak when we admit that we are wrong as if we are not in keeping with how we see ourselves. Instead, we may be in the habit of justifying our actions using reason and “so-called” logic to explain our actions. Other times we may resort to shifting the blame onto other people, even the people we have hurt or offended.

These attitudes make it difficult for us to admit we were wrong. We may not admit our wrongs out of fear of appearing weak or denial of our responsibility, but admitting we are wrong reveals our strength, wisdom and common sense among other qualities. The stong and wise person accepts responsibility for his actions. It is a powerful step in the reconciliation process and, for some people, it is absolutely necessary to hear.

3. Making Restitution (I Want To Make things Right)

Some people, in order to truly feel that we have apologized to them, need to know or hear that we are willing to repair the damage by making up for losses- either physical or emotional. For these people, offering to do something to try to make it write shows that the person is indeed sorry for what they have done. Fo them, it is a matter of equalizing.

Equalizing is making up for the loss that the other person experienced. To offer restitution is to equalize the balance of justice. – Everett Worthington Jr, profeesor of psychology at Virginia commonwealth University

How can we make up for losses in a way that will be meaningful to the offended person? It can be helpful to be familiar with the five ways that people express and feel love found in the book, The Five Love Languages. Not everyone sees the expression of “making up for damages” in the same way. Here are the five love languages from the book:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Acts of Service
  • Quality Time
  • Physical Touch
  • Receiving gifts

4.  Deciding to Change

What people do not want after an apology is for repetitions of the offense. Some people apologize and promise not to do it again, but then the offense happens again and again. The apology means nothing. Repentance or deciding to change must take place in the person’s heart. The expectation of some people is to not only hear an apology and expression of remorse but to truly see a clear sign that the person is choosing to change.

For these people, words are meaningless unless they are backed up by action and, the expected action is changing the mind and heart. It means choosing not to repeat the same kind of offense and taking the appropriate steps. They need to hear the desire to change and see results. Without this commitment, these people who sincerely desire an apology can not give out their trust.

5. Requesting Forgiveness

According to one survey, one in five people (20%) needs to hear the offending person ask for forgiveness in order for the apology to be complete. Why would this step be so crucial for these people?  Asking for forgiveness is a very clear sign that the offending party realizes that his or her actions have been hurtful, intentionally or unintentionally. It is also an indicator that the person truly wants to restore the relationship.

Asking for forgiveness is very humbling especially for those with strong personalities. It may seem like an admission of weakness and also surrender, both of which are difficult to do. Furthermore, some people may be afraid of asking for forgiveness because of fear of rejection. After all, asking for forgiveness places all the power to restore the relationship in the hands of the offended party.

Asking for forgiveness is also hard because of our expectation to receive it immediately. Sometimes this does happen, but other times the person may need time and we can not control that aspect. We need to trust and wait.

Did you enjoy this post? Please leave a comment below.

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Diana Lynne loves to travel, pursue self-improvement and debt-free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and her dog Skye. You can connect with her through livingandstuff.ca

 

 


Why Not Try Something New?

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photo credit: Alex Lehrer @ flying_penguin – unsplash

“What am I living for and what am I dying for are the same question.” ―Margaret Atwood

Have you ever found yourself in a rut where nothing seems to be advancing in your life? You wake up each with discouragement induced brain fog. No matter how hard you try you feel like your life is just spinning its wheels. Somedays you feel like a hamster going round and round, but not getting anywhere in particular. Sometimes it feels like the hamster wheel comes to an abrupt stop and you fall off and end up staring at the ceiling wondering to yourself “Is this all there is”?

There are different kinds of ruts. Maybe you are in a relationship rut. Maybe your dating life seems about as exciting as watching wet paint dry. Maybe your marriage needs some refreshing.  Maybe you feel “stuck” in a job that does not inspire you, but you go in day after day because it pays the bills. We have all been there. Ruts just bring us down or put us into an automatic pilot mode.

Some of us just want something to change, but we have no idea how that will happen. We are looking for that magic bullet, that magic wand to just wave us out of the doldrums of our life and into a new life of something meaningful, something where we feel we are actually going somewhere and doing something of importance.

Time For A Change?

So, what can we do to change things? Is there any hope for us?. Well, actually there is. We can climb out of this “depth of despair”, as Anne of Green Gables famously and dramatically called her difficult life situations. We can see our life in new ways. We can choose to use a different mirror.  We can change our circumstances to some degree, but what we do have control over is how we feel about our circumstances.

It sounds easier said than done to change how we feel and sometimes we just need a little help from the outside. Have you ever noticed that just getting out among people or activities can change your perspective? Activity can lift our spirits and make us feel more energized. when we feel that our lives are routine, dull or not going anywhere, sometimes all it takes is new experiences to help us think differently.

We can show our brains all kinds of new things: new experiences, new ways of seeing things. We can take ourselves to new places, even within our own city. Why not be a tourist in your own town? Learn some new history. Take a night tour of your town. Why not go visit houses for sale just to dream a bit?  Go for a tour. Why not?  Go “shopping”  and try on new clothes (ones you can’t normally afford).  Go to a travel agency and get brochures of places you would like to visit and plan a trip 9even if you are not actually going there). Just imagine what it might be like. It is just about stretching our minds and imagining for fun.

New Information Helps

New (and good) information, whether from new books or speaking with other people can help us to see things in a new light. Often when we only listen to ourselves, we end up believing ourselves about our situation. We end up spinning negative versions of reality over an over.  Usually, what we think and tell ourselves is not even true.

Any computer analyst will tell you that the output is dependant on the input. If good data goes in, then there will be good output on the other end. How do we get better input? Well, we need to change what information we are allowing into our mind. The fact is, the information we have received up until now is largely what has brought us to where we are in life. We need to get new and better information and throw out the baggage we have been used to, including the suitcases.

Whether it comes to changing your health, your fitness level or anything else in life, new information and new associations will change things for you. Get around new people who are going in the direction you want to go. If you want to improve your health or fitness, wouldn’t it make sense to get around people who are pursuing health goals? Now, of course, this doesn’t mean get rid of your friends and family; It just means associating with people who think differently and are getting the results you want.

Decide To Change

Once you decide and are geared to make a change, it needs to become a habit. A habit takes 63 days (roughly just over 2 months) to solidify. so don’t give up. Stay on the path. Stay in your lane.

Find your motivation. Most of us have a 2-week motivation to go to work (paycheck to paycheck) and that is what keeps us going to work each day. It’s time to find a new motivation, one that comes from you, rather than a boss, whether it is a desire to change a situation you are tired of, or whether you are chasing a dream. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Ask for guidance from people who can help you. And most importantly, stay away from the “whiners and complainers” – they will only discourage you.

Finish What You Start

As Winston Churchill said: “Never give up.” Don’t get distracted or give in to discouragement (even from yourself). Be kind to yourself and take your new path in small steps. Every day, do something that is moving you forward toward your goal, whether it is reading a new book or talking with someone who can help you. Don’t sabotage the progress you have made by compromising or slacking off (a bit). And remember, the couch is not the best place to find motivated people.

No matter what, time will pass. Time is a relentless thief that will steal your time away from you when you are not looking. We need to redeem the time and make the most of the time we have to do what only we can do. Don’t let time take away the precious moments you could have used to change things in your life.

You Are Not Here By Accident

None of us was born to just pay the bills and try to get by. We are worth so much more than that. We have so much to offer the world, but how will the world know what we have to offer if we don’t even know ourselves because we never believed we could do more and be more?

The economic world we live in loves for us is to stimulate the economy, pay our taxes and be “good” citizens. While none of these are wrong, we have greater contributions to make and a bigger impact to have on the world. There are people whose lives we can change and places we can discover. There are new inventions to create and books we can write.

Be bold, be courageous. Don’t hold back from doing what only you can do. Have questions bigger than your answers. Always go deeper than what you know and remember that in the end, we will never know it all.

Has this post inspired you? Please leave a comment below.

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Diana Lynne loves to travel, pursue self-improvement and debt-free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and her dog Skye. You can connect with her through livingandstuff.ca


Leadership Unpacked –

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photo credit: Markus Spiske @marcusspiske – unsplash

“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” – Ronald Reagan

We all have ideas about what leadership means and what we would like leaders to be.  Sometimes our ideas of what a leader is are idealistic and may not have anything to do with what true leadership is. We often have high expectations of those we call leaders, confusing individual appointments ( positions of authority) with leadership. In reality, leadership does not automatically accompany a position, but it is an attitude, a decision, and a way of life. Leadership can not be elected or appointed.

People like to complain that our governments, schools or whatever body of authority we are talking about is “lacking in leadership” and that this is the reason for our problems. However, the assumption is that those in authority are leaders simply by virtue of the fact that they are in positions of authority. We trust them to make wise decisions and to run various bodies of government or business based on appointment, election or promotion.

Leaders are not chosen; they become. Leaders are not elected, promoted or appointed; they develop through adversity, conviction, and vision. They do not operate from a position of authority, but rather a position of service. A leader remains a leader only as long as he is leading or influencing. When no one is following the leader, he is just going for a walk.

It is true that our nations, our governing bodies at all levels and businesses need leadership; we desperately need it. But we need people willing to lead wherever they are, in whatever community they are in and in whatever capacity they are in. Leadership is for everyone, not a select few. Let,s look at some of the characteristics of strong leaders.

Leaders Serve

Leaders do not lead from a top-down perspective, but rather from a ground-up. They see themselves as wanting to help others around them. True leaders are concerned more for the welfare of others than for their own gain. They are willing to go the extra mile at their our expense (in time and energy) in order to serve those they are leading. In fact, their leadership comes out of service.

Leaders walk In Front and In Back

The leader does not always know where he or she is heading; sometimes it is into uncharted waters. But he or she is willing to go first and experience the adversity, the inconveniences, and the failures before the others.  A leader leads from in front and by example. It does not so much matter where he or she is headed, but that he or she is willing to go first.

A leader also leads from behind, not willing to leave anyone in the team to struggle on their own. So, if the leader sees that there are problems down the line, he or she is willing to go to the source and deal with it. Sometimes it may mean going back to the very beginning and moving forward from there. The leader follows the cry from The Three Muskateers: “All for One and One for All”

Leaders Take the Blame and Give the Credit

Leaders are willing to assume responsibility for any failures within the team they are leading rather than cast the blame on to individuals. As leaders, they feel responsible for the success or failure of whatever endeavor they are involved in and will shoulder the blame.

On the other hand, leaders are generous with praise and quick to give credit out to others for any successes. They recognize that encouraging others and giving them credit for their contribution is an act of honesty and humility that is beneficial for everyone.

Unfortunately, what we see in governments and businesses alike is the exact opposite – casting the blame onto others and taking credit that is not due. True leaders can turn this tide around by setting the example.

Leaders Have Mentors

Strong leaders have mentors. They learn from those who have gone before them in blazing trails. Mentors pass on wisdom and knowledge that is useful and often crucial to leaders kin helping them not to repeat the mistakes of the past. Mentors do not always come in the form of a person; sometimes they can come through literature. A library is a collection of many mentors located in one place.

The important point is that leaders are not an island; they are connected to others who can counsel them, show them the right paths to follow and teach them what to avoid. Their experience is golden. Any leader or person who claims to be one who does not have mentorship is not a leader.

Leaders Sacrifice

Leaders sacrifice personal time, safety, energy as well as personal interests, needs, and even their own reputation for the sake of others. Leadership means sacrifice- putting others before ourselves. This does not mean they depreciate themselves or refuse to take care of themselves, however. It simply means that they are very concerned with the long term welfare of those they are leading, be it a family, a community or a nation.

Sacrifice means letting go of what we want to do at any given moment, letting go of our personal opinions, and taking a larger, long term perspective. It means asking the question: What is important now”?, rather than: “What do I want to do now”? Sacrifice involves looking beyond and outside of ourselves to consider the greater purpose.

Leaders Connect

Without an authentic connection, a leader cannot lead because no one will be following. It is that simple. People don’t care so much about what you want them to know or do unless they first know how much you care about them. They want to know what is in it (whatever the endeavor is) for them and how they can benefit and they want to know that a leader cares about their needs and interests.

The very first responsibility of any leader is to establish a connection with those he or she seeks to influence. They need to get to know and care about people, their names, their, occupations and interests, their families, their cares, their hopes, and their fears. Nothing in leadership is more important than connecting with others –  without it, there is no leadership.

A Note For Those In Positions of Leadership, by Selection or Appointment

Influence and change can not happen unless there is first an understanding of what true leadership is. The people you are in charge of or directing need to know that you know where you are going and that you are not afraid to go first. They need to know that you will be generous in giving credit where it is due, in recognizing contribution and progress and also that you hold yourself and everyone accountable to high standards. They want to know that you are constantly learning, willing to change when necessary and that you are open to new information. They want to know that you care about them and are willing to go the extra mile for them and with them if necessary. If they see you as the leader, they will gladly follow.

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, traveling, learning, and pursuing a debt-free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca


Leadership: Reclaiming Freedom

Category : Uncategorized

photo credit: Bill Gierke @gierke – unsplash

“There is no surer way to destruction than prosperity without character” – Calvin Coolidge

Freedom is the fundamental basic foundation of all human beings. Much has been written on this subject, wars have been fought over it, people have died for it and at least one country, The United States of America, was founded on the principles of freedom after much bloodshed.

Today we speak of freedom. We say we are free to do this or do that, to live here or there. In Western society we consider ourselves to be free because we say that we live in a free society. But freedom is like a delicate plant; if it is not properly cared for, watered and nourished, it will wither and die. In order to preserve freedom, we must  understand what it is, how we got it and how not to lose it

Freedom has never been free, though many of us today take it for granted.; It is a human right, but it comes at a price. It must be protected against anything that would try to destroy it. In his book entitled 1913, author Oliver DeMille discusses freedom in chapter 6: The Founding of Freedom In  Modern Times.  He outlines 3 lessons from the Founding Fathers (of the U.S constitution) and their generation

Lesson 1.Citizens must Be Educated

Lesson 2. All Are Created Equal

Lesson 3. Precautions Are Necessary

Lesson One

The first lesson is that freedom can only be present when citizens (indeed, everyone) understands what freedom is, how it works and the importance of preserving it. Ancient civilizations such as the Israelites and Anglo-Saxons trained their citizens to do just this. When a society fails to understand freedom and pass on the importance of maintaining it to future generations, societies begin to disintegrate (such as Rome did). When citizens entrust freedom to a few elected individuals rather than take an active part in preserving it, freedom begins to die.

Lesson Two

All people are created equal. This truth is so fundamental and yet, again, so easily forgotten and taken for granted. It means that freedom is for everyone – all, not just for certain groups.

“Freedom denied for a few while the rest of the people are denied freedom isn’t freedom at all” – p. 81

The three main freedoms- political. religious and financial freedoms are for all people, regardless of differences. If for whatever reason, the majority of a population decides to reduce or eliminate the freedoms of any group, then no one in that society is truly free. And, as the author points out, people can not “leave freedom and governance to the experts”.

Lesson Three

Power (those in a position of power) will, by its very nature seek to “centralize and expand”.  Any society that seeks freedom must set up a system of accountability in its governance. This is what the founding fathers established with the system of “checks and balances” between levels of government. Ultimately, however, the people were to be the ones to keep the government bodies in line so they would not follow the natural path of centralizing and expanding.

“Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficial. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greater dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment of men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding”
Justice Louis Brandeis Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 479 (1928)

Leadership and Freedom

The question that now arises is: Who will step up?  All throughout history, these “mavericks” have been few in number, but great in the impâct they have had in preserving freedom. We can name a few of them: Harriet  Tubman, Rosa Parks, Abraham Lincoln,  and many others. But we do not have to be a person in authority or well known to have an impact.

We all have a dash – that time between our birth and death (“The Dash” by Linda Ellis). Living fully in the dash is to make our lives mean something that makes a difference. One of the ways that we can make that dash count is to actively pursue freedom, not only for ourselves but for our fellow citizens, to learn about it and protect it.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has” – Margaret Mead

The author dedicates three chapters to describing the three main characteristics of future leaders who can make a difference in the future.

Entrepreneurs

Voracious Readers and Independant Thinkers

Tribal Leaders (Seth Godin)

Entrepreneurs

There is an integral connection between entrepreneurial spirit and freedom. Organically, the entrepreneurial spirit seeks to stand up and fight to meet and overcome obstacles. Entrepreneurship is at the very root of Western Civilization. A commercially based society is a free society. This kind of society promotes opportunity, prosperity, transparency, and freedom of expression. Indeed, the values of entrepreneurship are the values of freedom.

The first quality of the leaders needed in the future is the quality of an entrepreneurial spirit. Entrepreneurs understand freedom and the need to preserve it. They understand the need for innovation, independence, prosperity, and contribution in order to preserve a free society.

Voracious Readers and Independent Thinkers

Historically, free nations such as Ancient Isreal, Athens, and Switzerland have been well known for the predominance of an extensive reading culture and an openness to independent debating. America was also founded on this culture. People in the early days of America were well-read and versed in the literature of the day. They participated in and followed public debates. Because the people were a reading generation, they were also a well-informed generation that took responsibility for their society and held their elected officials in check.

When education becomes more as a means to an end, such as training to have a career rather than learning to become more aware and knowledgeable, then the understanding of the role of government, freedoms, and prosperity become side issues. and the result, if this trend continues, is the loss of the understanding that all people need to be as knowledgeable and informed as those leading our society.

Future leaders need to read widely, become informed through reading and researching to learn about freedom. to learn what our leaders know in order to be able to understand all policies and decisions that impact our freedoms. And we need to go beyond the “official education” taught in schools.

The real lessons taught in our schools are things such as ” Confusion”, “Class position”, and “Mindless Obedience to Officials” – John Taylor Gatto, New York State Teach of the Year (1991)

Tribal Leaders

Tribal leaders, business leaders,  and community leaders are all of the same breeds. We need people who share and promote common goals, ideas, interests and other of a common group or community in an organic way. The tribal environment is the opposite of the hierarchical authoritative environment It represents a shift fro management to leadership, away from authoritarian to cooperation.

The concept of tribal leadership evokes the idea of grassroots leaders from the ground up. And this is precisely what the founding fathers were aiming for when they proposed local governance that was held accountable by the people by their active participation.

Leaders of the future, who hope to pursue and preserve freedoms, must understand the concept of local governance through involvement in, participation in community organizations within larger organizations. Business leaders that build communities of interacting members, eventually build leaders who will, in turn, build leadership communities. Leaders of the future will need to understand that freedom and its preservation requires active participation and vigilance. It requires an accountability system so that freedoms are not only placed in the hands of the few.

Did you enjoy this post? Please leave a comment below.

Related Posts

What it Takes to Be a Leader

Making Decisions and Life Choices

Overcoming the Goliaths in Your Life

The Art of Influence – The New Direction

Click and share

Diana Lynne loves to travel, pursue self-improvement and debt-free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and her dog Skye. You can connect with her through livingandstuff.ca

 


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