Leadership is not about who you are but about where you’re going

Self-importance seems to go hand in hand with titles. Ascending to a position of power and importance can readily go to one’s head. One leader revealed that within hours of being appointed to a new job, one where he was in charge, he received two phone calls from colleagues encouraging him to show his power, to let people know there was a new sheriff in town.

Admittedly it is a tempting thought. After all, you’ve worked hard, proven yourself, and paid the price for success. Then getting the place of power and authority, it seems a shame not to use it. However, I’ve found that

JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN DOESN’T MEAN THAT YOU SHOULD.

If you have been reading The Practical Leader for long you may remember that post I wrote last year about restraint. Power brings with is many possibilities for good and for bad. Using power to demonstrate power is almost always counter-productive.

It is critical to remember that the object of power is not power nor the ability to use power unless it is qualified by purpose.

Just what is the motive behind and the intent ahead of the power we wield?

Methods might have to be changed or recharged to refocus the organization on its mission. The mission and vision of a company, if it has been well-considered before implementation, remains fixed and constant. The means to get there do not. Power, and your new position , is a great chance to refocus on the mission, remind everyone (yourself included) of the progress made, and refine methods you’re taking to get there.

Paradigms change, we have to as well. We start out using one map, a projected lay of the land and assumption about routes to be taken. But as our understanding changes with time and experience, so must our “maps.” Changes must be made, but they need to be logical (according to sound thinking and valid argument) and they must be reasonable (according to rational thought and trustworthy information and data). Anything less and confusion will result raising levels of anxiety in everyone working for you.  If they cannot see the reasons why changes are being made and if they cannot understand how they will fit in those changes, their sense of security will plummet.

Finally, employ the power and privilege of your position to clarify and explain what’s being done and why. People of power have earned the right to be heard. Do not squander that right by remaining silent. With the power and the privilege comes the responsibility to treat others with the respect they deserve as individuals and valued participants in the company’s purpose. Explain, explain, explain. And don’t limit your explanation to one announcement, an email, or a notice put on a bulletin board. Keep explaining until everyone gets it.

Simply throwing your weight around puts the spotlight and focus on you which is precisely on the wrong place.  You, the leader, want to be the calalyst for action and advancement, not the point of reaction and resentment.

Restoring Passion and Purpose

Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work, and you have to inspire team-mates and customers. Robin S. Sharma

 lighting a matchEditor’s Note – The following account is true. Even though it is from the non-profit world, the leadership principles revealed and illustrated are universal.

 “I have an uprising on my hands,” said the voice on the other end of the phone. “We are an inner city neighborhood church but some board members are pressuring us to move the congregation to the suburbs. We can’t seem to get through a board meeting with this coming up. What can I do?”

“The problem,” I explained, “is that they’ve lost passion and purpose. They’ve forgotten why your organization exists and what it has set out to become and accomplish. Here’s what to do. Call a board meeting but keep the church doors locked. Don’t let anyone into the building when they arrive. Instead, put them all into a vehicle then drive them around your neighborhood. Point out the crack houses, the homeless people, the hookers, the blight and decay and remind them why your church exists, that it does not exist so that they can have a comfortable and convenient place to gather. That it exists to make a difference in your city.”

I am pleased to report that the strategy worked.

It is a challenge facing just about every leader, usually more than once. Businesses and organizations evolve over time. Passion and purpose seem to give way to a preference for convenience and comfort.  The questions to be asked and answered are what  happens and what can we do about it?

The longer a company or organization exists the more likely it is to forget and neglect why it started and what it set out to do. It seems almost inevitable which is why an effective leader is skilled and diligent about ways to help everyone remember why they are there.

The longer a company or organization exists the more likely it is to become self-centered and self-focused. I am not implying anything about the character of anyone or everyone involved. I am, however, all too aware of human nature. Even the most outward-focused start-ups can evolve into inward-looking companies or organizations. The result is always stagnation and ultimate obsolescence.

The sooner and the more often you can remember and remind the leaders around you why your company or organization exists, the more likely they are to buy into the vision. This is true at every stage of an organization’s evolution. This is why vision statements must not limit the thinking to what an organization does but in how it impacts a constituency. We don’t produce a product or a service, we produce a result.

The more eloquently and graphically you can define and describe the targets you have set and the progress you are making towards them the more readily passion and purpose will remain alive. Passion, purpose, and motivation remain vibrant when the exigencies of life and business are met and conquered. Nothing succeeds like success and reminders of it must come often. Just last week I produced a short PowerPoint presentation detailing the significant progress made by a non-profit in the area. The numbers are up, way up, and everyone needs to know it…and celebrate it. Even if progress is small, progress is progress.

It is easier to keep passion alive than it is to rekindle it. It is not easy to build a fire in burnt wood. Even charcoal briquettes, the little black blocks used in barbeque grills everywhere are ignited much easier when an outside source of heat and auxiliary fuel is used. What’s that mean? It means that to light briquettes you need starter fluid and a match. What’s that imply for your company? You’re the match and you’ll need to come up with some sort of starter fluid.  More about this later.

If you as leader do not have passion of the vision that translates into a sense of purpose and destiny, it is probably time for you to move on. I mean it. If you have lost passion and a sense of purpose for your organization…or never had it to begin with… then it’s time to find another position. If the fire does not burn within you, you become a consumer of energy not a producer. The same is true of anyone else working in the company. The most productive and responsible associates are those who are enthused about the company and what it does.

Justin Rosenstein wrote that “Life is short, youth is finite, and opportunities endless. Have you found the intersection of your passion and the potential for world-shaping positive impact? If you don’t have a great idea of your own, there are plenty of great teams that need you – unknown startups and established teams in giant companies alike.”

What do you have to do to restore passion and purpose for your company, your organization, your department, your team, or yourself?

Do it.

 

The one lesson learned in 2014 and what to do about it in 2015

CalendarIn little more than a few hours we’ll turn the calendar on another year. We look back on the year past with a little sadness at its passing and a little more gladness that it’s over. As we launch into a new year, we are forced by calendars and convention to turn the page, as it were, leave what was, and face what will be.

Having done this very thing for a good many decades, there is one lesson that stands out. It that we must leave what was behind if we are ever to partake of what is ahead. There are three cardinal rules that govern my actions. I have written of them before but it has been quite some time ago so they bear highlighting once more. They are:

  1. Build your life only on islands of health and strength. The “health and strength” part applies personally and corporately. Personally it means that by now you should know what you are good at and accept what you are not so good at. Although the opportunities may be many, the options need to be limited. Don’t even consider spending much time on projects or tasks that demand that you leave or neglect what you are good at to pursue things for which you are not well-equipped. Saying no in this case is as imperative as saying yes. The same applies to recruiting and delegating to others. Unless you do run a rehabilitation clinic, your job is to develop capable people not to spend hours in therapy trying to fix broken ones. I know it may sound callous, but time is passing and a new year highlights that more than just about anything else. Focus on producers and producing.
  2. Work only on things that will make a great deal of difference when you succeed. There just isn’t time to waste on the pursuit of the trivial and insignificant. Life offers lots of choices. Learn to evaluate them and select only pursuits that will result in significant changes. Some nice things do not promise enough reward. With limited time and energy, make you minutes and days count.
  3. Work only with those who are receptive to what you are trying to do. Your powers of persuasion and enthusiasm for your job will inspire and motivate many, but some are just not going to go along. Do not even try to convince someone against their will. I simply refuse to fight with someone. If I cannot persuade them, then there are those who are receptive. Oddly, the person you replaced will likely be the least receptive to you, even if s/he picked you as their successor. Your job is to move on which implies leaving what lies behind. The pace of your work is NOT determined by the most reluctant and resistant member. Find those who will buy in to your vision and take ownership of its many components.

If you were to measure 2014 by those three items, how did you do? What will you do differently for 2015? Got it figured out? Okay, do it.

 

How to recognize purpose for yourself

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhy would an economics teacher ask this question?

My economics teacher asked each of us what we thought was the meaning of life. The answers were as varied as were those occupying desks. It seemed an odd question to me for the first class session of the course. I could have understood the question more in a philosophy course. But economics?

Over time I began to see what was behind it. All of life and the actions thereof are transactions. We exchange one thing for another. On a small scale we exchange money or goods for services or goods. We pay the mortgage or rent, keep the lights on and water running, and put food on the table. But the money comes from somewhere, almost always from your job or investments. Wherever the source, it is an exchange.

On a large scale, we spend our time and energy, both in limited supply, on something or some things. We work, we play, we sleep, we eat. Since time and energy are limited to the course of life, we literally do give our lives in exchange for something.

And that is the reason behind the question offered by an economics teacher – what is the meaning of life? Philosophically that question may be answered directly or evaded by proposing and arguing a wide range of pondered responses, all of them the subject of discussions, arguments, and books throughout the centuries.

Add one word and ask another question.

But if the question is asked adding one four letter word, the answer becomes impossible to evade. So, let’s add that word and ask “What is the meaning of YOUR life?”

Some may be confused as to why I include this subject in a blog on leadership. But I stand firm on the question. The series in which this article is inserted is counting the 16 qualities of a superlative leader. There can be no superlative leadership without a superlative leader manifesting it.

Each and every superlative leader personifies the answer by who they are which has demonstrated itself in what they do. Superlative leaders have elevated the meaning of their lives above average folks. They are exceptional in that they are making their lives count for something.

Why and how do we make our lives count?

Why? And how do we know this? I’ll answer the last question first. We know it by the fruit of their existence. They make a difference for themselves and for others.  Their impact is far-reaching. They are people of significance. When they are gone they are missed. While they are here they are respected and regarded.

The “why” part of the question is less easily answered. I’d like to say they are altruistic but that just doesn’t hold up. Indeed, I believe that all actions are self-serving. They are often not selfish, but they are self-serving. They satisfy needs, desires, wants, ambitions, and expectations residing deep inside a person’s soul. Superlative leaders exude purpose. They live lives driven to accomplish and influence. It is part and parcel of their nature.

Can leadership be taught?

I have colleagues who believe that leadership can be taught, that anyone can become a leader. I do not believe that. I believe the gift of leadership is innate; one is born with the skills and attitudes that place them ahead of the pack. I do believe that time, experience, education, and training make the leadership gift more effective. I do not believe, and have never seen, leadership manifest itself in one who does not have the gifts.

Management tasks and skills can be taught. Leadership skills and tasks are honed, sharpened through time, training, and trials. A true gifted leader can do nothing less than lead. S/he will always rise to the top, move to the front, shoulder the responsibility, and make the difference.

It is their purpose in life to lead, to make a difference, to take charge.

People who believe they have purpose in life to lead work harder, accomplish more, and live longer than do their peers. It truly is a calling and I am not speaking religiously. While most will be quite content to go to work, collect a paycheck, and spend that paycheck on flat screen televisions and fun-filled weekends, superlative leaders will not, indeed cannot be content with just that.

They need to feel successful. They need to recognize progress. They need to make decisions, to establish direction, to make things happen.

And they do.

How to recognize purpose.

And here’s how that happens…and why you as a superlative leader yourself, outdistance yourself from mere mortals. You recognize a sense of purpose because:

  1. You have an elevated mindset. Some men lay bricks, you build cathedrals. You see farther. You understand how this act leads to that achievement. You don’t live from paycheck to paycheck. You live from beginning to end, from start to finish, out of the past into the future. The little things you do may appear to be random and incidental to some but you understand that great accomplishments are realized through dozens, perhaps hundreds of small acts.
  2. You think optimistically. I am not suggesting a positive thinking fantasy as is often promoted. Positive thinkers simply reject or discount negative evidence. Optimistic thinkers are quite aware of the circumstances and conditions, good and bad, but they have confidence in their abilities and that of those with whom they have surrounded themselves that obstacles can be overcome, setbacks can be reversed, and bad can be displaced with good and that is will not happen simply because one vocalizes positive words or harbors positive thoughts. Superlative leaders know it will happen as the result of definitive and intelligent action.
  3. You think in terms of accomplishments and achievements not merely tasks and activities. True enough you do lots of things. You check off lists of tasks and you stay plenty busy. But you measure life…and the purpose of it…in terms of what’s been realized, what’s been accomplished, not just how busy you’ve been. Doing lots of things may be enough for some. Superlative leaders do things that accomplish much. You do not ask yourself what you have done nor do you satisfy yourself with being busy. You ask yourself what has been accomplished.
  4. You rephrase and restate your life in terms of what’s important. Your values manifest themselves as consequential to what you do. You may sell furniture but you understand that you are providing others with furnishings that make up a home. Your company may sell windows and doors but you know you are providing security and beauty for people who need protection form the elements and intruders. You may teach a class but you understand that you are giving information and tools to people who can build a life with what you’re teaching.
  5. You can answer 5 questions about your life.
    1. Why do I have a job?
    2. Why must I and my co-workers do our jobs?
    3. What do my customers, clients, or constituents want as a result of my job?
    4. Why is that important to them?
    5. Why does that matter to me?

When you can internalize and answer the above, you have begun to recognize purpose for your life. You begin to realize it has meaning far above what you might have ever thought. Superlative leaders do this all the time. It keeps them going because purpose is the total of life’s experiences and responsibilities, not the end result. It is the journey, not the destination.

What purpose looks like

purpose of lifeYesterday someone posted a provocative question that showed up on my Facebook timeline. They asked “If you don’t know your purpose, are you still looking for it?” Surprisingly, many of the comments indicated the commenter did not know their purpose or that their sense of purpose was continually evolving.

I understand the latter because we get wiser and more insightful as we age or at least most people do. And we become more aware of what talents and aptitudes we possess and which ones we don’t. But the answer to the former troubles me. It seems somehow sad that adults do not seem to possess a sense of reason. They live, do things, hold down jobs, have families, go here and there, but why and for what purpose.

I don’t know who it was but someone once said that “He who is all wrapped up in himself makes a very small package.” People without purpose seem to cycle inward or at best, revolve around a set of activities that repeat themselves. People with purpose never let that happen. They do things not to just be doing things. They do things because the things they do have a reason, possess meaning and intent. They move forward and outward whereas those without purpose just go through the cycles. We all will spend our lives on something. People of purpose spend it on things worthwhile.

What made that Facebook post and its responses even more engaging was that just two days before, Friday last, I sat in a room with a 100 or so people who make up the Horizon Council in our city. The Horizon Council is a group of women and men who are the movers and shakers of Greater Ft. Myers, Florida, and Lee County. These people make things happen. A voluntary coalition of businesspeople, non-profit organizations, and government agencies, they purposefully joined together to make life better…and not just for themselves. They have demonstrated that by serving the larger needs of society, individuals who make up that society are bettered too. Each and every person there are people of purpose. Each and every one are different, have a variety of responsibilities, but they have made an impact and continue to do so.

If you and I were sitting in a coffee shop having a pleasant conversation and I were to ask you what is your purpose in life, could you give an insightful answer? What would purpose look like if we were to describe it? How would it feel? Where would one find it? Could it be that most people never even consider the concept?

Superlative leaders do.

Purpose is not so much what you do as it is what has been realized as a result of what you do. Superlative leaders do not work for the sake of work. They work for the intent of the work, what it will achieve, and how change will result.

Purpose is, by pure etymology, the reason for which something exists. For you and I the meaning is the same – that we have a destiny. No, I am not suggesting that we foster or nurture delusions of grandeur. Purpose is not a Napoleonic Complex. It is, however, the firmly held sense that we are going to realize something significant. What that is or how it may manifest itself is your decision and privilege.

The sense of destiny profoundly affects how you think. Purposeful people simply do not consider frivolous pursuits. Time and effort, as they understand it, is an expense and not to be frittered away. You will not find a purposeful leader working for the weekend. S/he will never sigh “Thank God it’s Friday.” For superlative leaders, Monday is the big day of the week, a new set of days in which the purpose comes closer.

Purpose feels like excitement, runs on deep reserves of energy, and exudes enthusiasm.  People of purpose radiate power.

Purpose is under assault daily. There are those who would attack and challenge your sense of destiny. Ignore them.

Purpose is pursued ahead of you but measured behind you. You look back and count the accomplishments, recognize the mile markers you’ve passed, and understand just how much you’ve been able to do.

Purpose gets bored with the endless pursuit of entertainment. Superlative leaders feel good about what they do because the world is a better place because of what they have done. They seldom say it but they often feel it.

And they need to.

It is perfectly acceptable to acknowledge the facts. I recommend that at the end of every day, you write down three things you got done. They will most likely include things that were not on your plan or schedule. Then, think about them and what they reveal in terms of the bigger picture. In just one year’s time you will have accomplished over 1000 things! Next, consider the common theme throughout all of them. Look above and beyond the individual tasks to the broader and more principled picture.

Purpose manifests itself in three dimensions – personal, social, and societal. Most never get very far beyond the first one, often using social purpose to further personal purpose. Superlative leaders get way beyond the first two. They are builders of civilization, advancers of human realization, willing participants in the evolution of social advancement. They may never use those terms or even consider their actual day-to-day participation, but it drives them to make things somehow someway better.

It is that sense of the significance of every day, the importance of every effort, the nobility of every engagement that drives superlative leaders like yourself. See there, you are making a difference!

Thursday I will show you how to discover purpose for yourself. See you then.

Qualities of a Superlative Leader – Personal Competencies #2 – Drive and Purpose part 2

Clear-Sense-Of-PurposeBorn Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum in 1905 to a Jewish family in St. Petersburg, Russia, Ayn Rand, as she came to be known in the US, became one of the 20th centuries most controversial and influential authors and philosophers.

After the Russian Revolution, her family’s business was confiscated by the government as the country became a worker’s paradise. She watched individualism and personal ambition be subjugated to statism and collectivism.

Immigrating to the United States in 1925. Arriving in New York on February 25th of that year, she cried what she called “tears of splendor” at the site of the Manhattan skyline. Migrating gradually west, she ended up in Los Angeles becoming a friend of Cecile B. DeMille.

Becoming a US citizen in 1931, Ayn Rand enjoyed her first literary success in 1932 selling a screenplay called The Red Pawn to Universal Studios. She is best remembered these days for her novels “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged.”

She founded what has come to be known as objectivism rejecting faith and mysticism. She also became a strong and fierce advocate of individual responsibility and liberty.  In Atlas Shrugged she wrote that your work is the process of achieving your values, and to lose your ambition for values is to lose your ambition to live,” and “the man who has no purpose is a machine that coasts downhill at the mercy of any boulder to crash in the first chance ditch.” Throughout her life, Ayn Rand was driven by a purpose to leave her mark on the world and she succeeded.

In the previous post I wrote about what goes wrong when you don’t have drive and purpose. In this post I want to address the other side of the coin.  Here are 8 reasons why superlative leaders possess drive and purpose:

  1. When you have drive and purpose, work is not work. It isn’t play either. But it is that wonderful match of values, ambitions, motives, ambitions, skills, talents, and opportunity.
  2. Drive is energy and ambition, purpose is reason and motive. Drive pushes you forward. Purpose draws you forward. Drive is the get up and go. It starts where you start. Purpose is the “got there” side of the trip, it makes you want to endure the challenges of the journey.
  3. Purpose is the sum of all your values and ambitions. What you do, how you do it, and what is realized as a result of those efforts reveals why.
  4. Being busy is good but in the end unfulfilling and unrewarding unless you are busy for the right reasons and towards the right ends. And only you can determine what those reasons are and what the ends should be… and it is never all about you. Superlative leaders become remembered for more than what they did. They are remembered for what they did, how they did it, and how it left a positive impact. Their life counted for something.
  5. The minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years you spend working add up to the sum total of your life’s contribution to human history. Therefore what you live for is the same as what you die for. You give your life for something. Everyone does. The question to be answered is what and why. For some the week is spent so one may enjoy the weekend. Many have nothing more invested in their career than the time between paychecks. Superlative leaders have far more at risk and they know it. Some see their life in two week segments. But you don’t. You see it is its totality.
  6. Purpose and drive put obstacles and setbacks in perspective. No one escapes reversals or challenges. No one. Drive and purpose is the horsepower and the torque to get through them.
  7. Purpose and drive simplifies life. It enables you to make priorities quite readily and set schedules with confidence and without apology. Once values are clarified and ambitions are focused, once talents and skills are understood and motives are identified, the resulting purpose and drive makes life’s choices quite simple. With confidence and ease one makes the decisions that eliminate conflicting opportunities. (Shameless self-promotion here – if you haven’t done so already, my Mastering Your Time mini-course shows you how to do exactly that. Sign up for it here. It’s completely free of charge.)
  8. Superlative leaders understand that as long as they’re breathing, their purpose in life is not complete. Retirement is not a cessation of activity. It is not an end to really important and useful tasks. Superlative leaders keep at it longer, engage life more fully, and accomplish more because they long ago settled that their purpose in life is not to disengage and play golf 5 days a week. It is so much more than that…and it is why so many people of drive and purpose lives life so full for so long.

So I end with a favorite quote from motivational speaker and author Steven Maraboli – “I want to live my life in such a way that when I get out of bed in the morning, the devil says, “aw sh*t, he’s up!”

There are worlds to conquer and some of them have your name on them. Go make them your own.

16 Qualities of a Superlative Leader – Personal Competencies #2 – Drive and Purpose, Part 1

no driveThe son of a British nobleman and an American heiress, Winston Churchill’s role in World War Two has become synonymous with excellence in leadership.

Churchill saw action in Cuba, Egypt, Sudan, and the battles of WWI. His career as a statesman began at the age of 25 when he was elected to the House of Commons. He went on to serve as First Lord of the Admiralty, the Minister of Munitions, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and even a period of political exile before becoming Prime Minister. Not without his failures (who is?) he took over as Prime Minister at perhaps the most crucial time in Britain’s history and went on to lead the country through the war.

Considered by many historians to be the greatest statesman of the 20th century, we must understand why. He possessed a powerful ability to inspire people even in the direst of situations.  Publicly he voiced and demonstrated optimism, enthusiasm, and confidence even if privately potential-winston-churchill-picture-quote[1]he felt differently. Just after he became Prime Minister, one of his private secretaries spoke of his drive saying:

“The effects of Churchill’s zeal was [sic] felt immediately in Whitehall.  Government departments which under Neville Chamberlain had continued to work at much the same speed as in peacetime awoke to the realities of war.  A sense of urgency was created in the course of very few days and respectable civil servants were actually to be seen running along the corridors.  No delays were condoned; telephone switchboards quadrupled their efficiency; the Chiefs of Staff and the Joint Planning Staff were in almost constant session; regular office hours ceased to exist and weekends disappeared with them.” (Geoffrey Best in his book – Churchill and War)

Superlative leaders do not become great accidentally nor do they stumble into greatness. They grow into it, coming to the right place at the right time possessing the right gifts seasoned by the hard challenges that waylay lesser men and women.

Through the ups and downs they possess drive and purpose which does not lose its vibrancy once they attain positions of great potential. They are fired from within by passion that is issue driven not interest driven. Issue driven leaders are motivated by a cause, inspired by a possibility, maintained by a faith in effort that they believe will surely pay off. They know without wavering that there are things worth making sacrifices for and that the hand of the diligent will indeed rule.

Interest driven passion fades as soon as the fun wanes and the work waxes. Like dogs chasing butterflies in a field, they flit from this passion to another, never staying the course long, never accomplishing more than burning fuel and time.

Passion and vision, therefore are joined at the hip. The former without the latter consumes time and burns brightly but leaves little lasting result. Vision with passion just sits there, mocking our words and taunting our well-written plans.

Indeed, there are 4 ways to destroy your life as a leader:

  1. Procrastination – Denis Waitley calls it living on “Someday I’ll.” There is that paradise of the mind located in a sea of fantasy on which all our dreams reside and to which we will attend…soon, no really, we’re going to get to them right away. Procrastinators tend to judge themselves by their intentions and discount their actions. It’s the intent that matters to them.
  2. Do something else – following someone else’s dream has some benefit, but lacks the sense of fulfillment that comes from following a personal passion. Churchill could have settled for a life of exile, making the occasional sage observation from the sidelines, but he engaged his opposition, overcame the obstacles, and to use a phrase he himself use to inspire others , the told himself to KBO – Keep Buggering On.
  3. Do nothing – Otherwise known as laziness, do nothing leaders find a thousand and one excuses why they should not take action. I call it the McClellan Syndrome named after General George McClellan, the commander of Union forces early in our civil war. He was a great organizer, a consummate bureaucrat, and chronically cowardly which manifest itself as laziness. He could plan but he would not fight. Do nothing leaders would substitute the preparations for action for action itself. They validate their lack of action by focusing on their diligence to prepare and their noble intentions (See #1).
  4. Dabbling – I call them piddlers. They piddle with this, monkey around with that, burn through time, money, people, energy, and resources but produce almost nothing. Lacking purpose, they pursue this or that, often with passion, but with neither focus nor fruit.

When I say a superlative leader possesses drive it is implied that s/he is driving somewhere not just here or there. Drive and purpose are two sides of the same argument. Each implies the other.

In 1938, Philadelphia Attorney Robert Abraham saw the approaching war, and paying close attention to the advance of the Imperial Japanese Army in China, he wrote a poem describing a Philadelphia couple as they drove through the countryside to a friend home to play cards. Remembering some of the battles that had been fought there in the nation’s history, Abraham drew comparisons between what had happened and what was happening in too many parts of the world. His poem was published by the Saturday Evening Post and ended like this:

“Tonight Shanghai is burning,

And we are dying too.

What bomb more surely mortal

Than death inside of you?

 

For some men die by shrapnel,

And some go down in flames,

But most men perish inch by inch,

In play at little games.”

I have briefly described the effects of the lack of drive and purpose, what about the benefits? Well, I’m out of space for today. In Monday’s post I will list them out. See you then.

FYI – you can read the full text of Abraham’s poem here.