Who Is Working Against You?

Today’s Lesson: Not everyone likes you.

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I love this quip from Sam Harris. In an interview with Dan Carlin, he said, “There are forces aimed at your life that you are not aware of.”

He was referring to terrorists, I think, but I love the quote without context. No matter how much integrity you have or how well you conduct yourself, there will be people who work against you–sometimes in your face, sometimes behind the scenes. Even Gandhi had enemies he was unaware of (and was ultimately shot and killed by one).

My theory is since some people will hate or resent me no matter what I do, I might as well continue learning and growing and becoming a better person according to my standards instead of somebody else’s. I obviously can not live up to everyone else’s standards (since there are as many standards as people) and no matter which person’s I chose, there would still be forces working silently against me.

Therefore, the only expectations I should try to live up to… are mine.

(I should make a quick point here: living up to my standards does not mean I should accept myself as I am and to hell with everyone else–they just have to deal with it. My standards, like me, should always be evolving as I learn, grow, and adapt to the world I create and contribute to.)

 

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Today The Lesson I Learned Is: The King And I Would Not Hurt A Fly. (140726)

How would roads look if we built them with other animals and ecology in mind? Would they maybe have 3 or 4 foot walls to deter animals like deer, squirrels, woodchucks, dogs, and cats from straying into traffic?

I saw a dead deer on the side of the road as I drove home today. It had obviously been hit while crossing the road. I drive a lot for work and, sadly, I see a lot of roadkill.

The thing is, we do not give much thought to our impact on the world, and yet we are the default caretakers of both the environment and the animal kingdom. We are top of the food chain whether we chose to be or not, and we are the only ones with the power and foresight to take care of our planet and its inhabitants, including ourselves. It seems like this should weigh on us more than it does.

I am a firm supporter of progress, science, and taking control of our destiny, but it makes me sad when we build, dominate, or renovate with blatant disregard for our fellow creatures and fauna. It is not only an abdication of our responsibility as kings over this planet, but it is also an offense to our own minds and creativity. It is a choice to ignore the faculty of thought, planning, and foresight–the very utility that gives us dominion over the rest of the world.

So, today’s lesson is: Think about what small steps you can take to care for your world and the creatures you are responsible for (whether you chose to be or not). As the default king of the Animal Kingdom, what kind of ruler do you wish to be remembered as? Ruthless and merciless (because that has always worked well for kings in the past…) or honorable and merciful?

In every moment of our lives, we have the potential to be Hitler or Gandhi to the rest of the world. Choose.

 

 

 

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Redefine Your Success

 

 

 

I have been wrestling with my successes lately. I am expanding in all the ways I am aiming to, yet sometimes I feel at a loss.

I shared this with Angela. I said, “I guess success is not what I expected; no matter what I achieve, there are still many things I want (a better car, a different house, newer training equipment, nicer clothes, etc…)”.

She said, “You struggle because you have collapsed two ideas: ‘being successful’ and ‘being rich’. You don’t have to be rich to be a success. There are many ways to succeed and to measure progress and growth. Financial largess is only one, and not even a particularly good one. Think about it this way. Would you consider Gandhi a success?”

That had my brain working for weeks. Of course Gandhi was a success, as are many people who are not “rich” (Cali and Jody, for example, are transforming the way the world works, yet they do not drive foreign sports cars or live in mansions; they are tremendously successful, but their goal is not to be “rich”—if they have bigger houses and fail at their goal, they still fail; they wouldn’t be a success by their standards).

 

Angela’s point was to reconsider how I define “success”. Sometimes we are so blinded by what we are taught success should look like that we actually stop striving for the things we set out to achieve.

Step back and look at your dream goals (or your company’s dream goals—the true goals at the heart of the organization, why the founder bucked the trends and went into business for himself in the first place).

 

By what standards have you been measuring your progress? Is it time to redefine your success?

 

 

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Servant Leadership is Dumb.

I like to explore popular ideas pushed by thought leaders and accepted as valid, practicable beliefs by many managers. It is important to examine what we accept as true simply because we are told it is so.

One of the most widely held leadership myths I see perpetuated is the concept of “Servant Leadership”. Management gurus like Robert Greenleaf (who coined the phrase), Ken Blanchard, John C. Maxwell, and Stephen Covey speak and write at length about the importance of putting others before yourself.

Being an egoless, selfless leader is a surprisingly popular idea. And it is wrong-headed.

I admire the work and value contributed by the leaders I mentioned, but here is the way I see it… it is important to value talent in others and it is important to help others when and as it serves your own rational self-interests.

Serving the interests of others regardless of whether their goals are aligned with yours not only undermines your effectiveness, but also steals time and energy from your focus. Worse, it subordinates your happiness and goals to the whims of others.

The idea of “servant leadership” is a contradiction-in-terms. A leader who is a servant…is merely a servant who thinks he is a leader. Nothing more. A servant is a servant.

To make clear the lie within the phrase, simply replace the word “servant” with its more proper term, “slave”. Have you heard of “Slave Leadership”? Of course not. You may have heard of a slave who became a leader, but a Leader Slave is as ridiculous as it sounds.

A leader’s ego is the most precious and coveted attribute he or she owns. It is the ego of a great leader that drives him forward, that allows him to trust his own logic and have confidence in himself when others might not. It is also a leader’s ego that others value; it is the very thing others look up to and try to emulate in great leaders (even seemingly “egoless” leaders like Gandhi… or Ken Blanchard).

If you want to be a leader, do what other leaders do. Be egotistical enough to throw out the textbook and choose to believe in the power of your own mind to make the right decisions required to lead others.

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