Over the last two months I have tried to offer a summary of some of the lessons offered in my new book, The Wise Leader: Doing the Right Things for the Right Reasons (co-authored with Stepthen Sokolow and available from iUniverse, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and electronically). It is very hard to distill an entire book into a few blog entries but I hope that some of the thoughts I have shared resonant and are helpful.
I would like to continue this journey this month with some further thoughts. One is that a wise leader has to learn to focus. For all of us living in this modern world of total distraction, focus is not always easy. But it is important because wise leaders know that what they pay attention to will become the focus of their organizations. It tells others what is important and what is valued. It is also true that where attention goes, energy flows. What we pay attention to focuses the energy of others so that success is easier to achieve. Once a leader understands her own focus, she can then use that attention and affirmation to enlist others. What we deeply believe can create great power. Once you affirm your beliefs and expectations to others, what you hope for can become reality. In creating anything, first you must have the concept, then the blueprint and plans so that, finally, something emerges in full form. Ideas only take firm through belief, affirmation, and focus.
Focus can only be achieved by staying in the present. The power of knowing becomes the power of “nowing.” This attention to the now allows you to be mindful of the world around you. You can then see dangers and opportunities you might otherwise miss. You are aware when others might not be. It’s like that line from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Butch says, “Boy I’ve got vision and the rest of the world is wearing bifocals.” Staying present and focused allows your vision to become reality.
All this can lead to a further strength of a wise leader, which is the understanding and use of synchronicity. Synchronous events have many other names: happy accidents, purposeful opportunities, or answered prayers, to pick a few. Synchronicity brings things into our life that can serve as lessons and as opportunities for growth. But you can only take advantage of synchronicity if you remain aware and focused. It’s like a quote from another of my favorite movies, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Ferris observes that “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it.” Wise leaders learn not to miss life and all its opportunities.
Another major lesson that wise leaders intuitively understand is the imperative to serve others. When you think about it, why should anyone lead if not to be of service? If a leader is focused only on himself, he does no good and great harm. Wise leaders have a sense of purpose and mission that is greater than their own needs and desires. When the focus is on others, good things multiply and grow. When it is on the self, focus tends to shrink and shrivel all that is around it. Wise leaders who serve others are in touch with a power that is greater than themselves. It matters not what we call that power; it is just the understanding that there is something more than ourselves. This connection to the greater good allows us to connect to the greater good that is within each of us. It calls upon our higher selves. It allows us to follow ethical and moral practices that ensure that our actions enhance the world. Some might say we are bringing forth the inner Christ, or inner Buddha, or whatever. But in calling on that higher portion of who we are, we become co-creators in the world. This gives us a moral or ethical GPS that allows us to navigate a difficult, frustrating, and sometimes dangerous world.
Wise leaders lead with intention. They know that their job is to make it happen, or “make it so” as Captain Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation would say. We do this by setting our intention to make it happen. A building built without a plan and blueprint will not stand long. We have to believe it before we can see it. Wise leaders understand that belief must come before reality. They will see it when they believe it. When you have a clear focus and a dedicated sense of purpose you can lead others effectively.