You've heard the standard training, right? Focus on your strengths. Ignore the news. Positive thinking. Deliver value. Sound familiar? Not working though, is it? Be honest. Bet you're wondering why.
Most people won't tell you this because they want to keep you under their control. They want to keep you clueless and confused and easily manipulated, so you buy more of their stuff. Hey, don't get me wrong, I want you to buy my stuff too, but I don't get a kick out of disempowering people. I'm lit up by Indiepreneurs - those gloriously independent-minded 'freaks, geeks and uniques' who break the rules, escape the cubicle, and create their own universes. Look at the top of the page. See that 'clockerfly'? That's the symbol of the Indiepreneur. It takes some pretty mighty wings to break out of a freaking clock, but you're doing it. Sometimes feels as if half of you is still stuck in the 9-5 'someone else is controlling my clock' world though: am I right? A bit of knowledge isn't going to help you with that.
People don't need more information. They need inspiration and transformation. ~ Rebecca Bardess
While everyone else is selling you information, what your ideal customers and clients actually need is inspiration and transformation. If people want data, they can go to Google. What are you offering that goes beyond that?
You can be a trainer by bundling info into courses and training, but you'll never be a thought leader doing that.
To be a true leader, and a thought leader at that, you need to go far beyond the standard advice. Just thinking positive - however great that is - won't work. The picture your prospects are looking at has both light and shade. You need to be able to see both, without fear.
Ignoring the news, putting your hands over your ears and 'la la laaa'ing your way through life won't help either. While you're still in novice territory, both of the above are helpful but once you seek to lead you simply can't be that lacking in courage.
Brendon Burchard, one of my mentors, is the leader in High Performance Coaching. He has an institute devoted to the study of this area. Whereas Peak Performance - popularised by Tony Robbins - is crucial to understand, it is focused on state management in specific moments. The problem with states is that they can change fairly fast. High performance science is about looking at ways to develop habits for the long term maintenance of peak performance, without purely relying on state management. Both Burchard and Robbins agree on a point about leadership, however. You cannot be a leader without both courage and empathy.
Burchard emphasises that part of courage is the importance of being able to stand up not only for yourself, but also for others. Robbins points out that going into the garden and chanting that there are no weeds will do nothing to remove the weeds. He says you must see things as they are - not worse or better than they are - and then seek to improve them.
What does this mean for leadership? Simply that you cannot go through life with your eyes shut. That's amateur hour. You need to be able to be present, fully engaged not only with your own ego needs but also with the collective psyche. Know and feel the struggles of the collective. Engage with it. Stick up for others. Know what you stand for AND what you stand against. At the same time, be empathetic. It is not necessary for everyone to agree with you. Your friends do not all need to vote the same way or think the same way. In fact, it is horrible for your brain development (your brain continues to develop in adulthood) if you believe this. It is vital for brain health, and for the health of society, that you remain flexible and open to discussing with others different views than your own.
Of course, there is no need to tolerate abuse. The block function is your friend if someone gets nasty. But, open yourself up to the oxygen of the free flow of ideas. Allow yourself to be challenged, and to challenge others. Where debate is respectful, the opinions of others are no threat to you.
While a trainer can train another what to say, a leader can influence another on ways to think for themselves. The first step to doing so is to be able to think for YOURSELF. To do that takes openness, flexibility and courage.
What are your thoughts? I look forward to reading your comments. Also, if this has got you thinking, share it around on social media so more people join the discussion. Thanks.
Founder of Indiepreneur Academy
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