Body & Mind

Everyday Leadership

I believe we all lead others every day regardless of our intentions. Our thoughts, actions, words and demeanor have an impact on our coworkers, family, and strangers. How many times do we encounter a negative attitude and allow that one bad experience to impact our day? We also all know people that brighten our day just by smiling in our direction. 

What is the difference maker and why do we allow ourselves to be led so easily in the short term?  I believe we fall into a trap.  The daily tasks of life can overshadow our true needs and priorities. We work hard to provide for our families. Nothing wrong with that. Sadly, many times the scales can tip and inadvertently we allow our desire to provide take away our ability to fulfill other basic needs for those we love. We sacrifice our connections for more things. 

My husband took to heart the mantra of Dr. Sid Williams of to give, to love and to serve. He was a difference maker. I have given much thought to these ideas over the past year or so. Servant leadership is not a new concept, but it can be hard for some to understand. Many of us were raised to think that leaders have power and authority that allows them to dictate rules and order. True leadership however comes from influence. Those who are unplugged from their purpose can be easily led, with or without true influence, at least in the short term. Influence is the only driver for real powerful long standing impact in the lives of those around us and especially those closest to us. 

What we choose to portray to the world either brightens or dims our surroundings. We are all difference makers. We can choose to be positive ones or negative ones. The Servant by James Hunter is an excellent resource to study more regarding leadership. He speaks of all the great difference makers that impacted our world. Most of them had no power or authority but they changed the world. His list includes Jesus, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King Jr. They all taught to give, to love, to serve. They all changed the world. It does not matter whether you are religious or not. Their influence is self-evident.

Many times we are not aware of basic human needs. It can make it hard for us to understand why we feel a certain way about others. We like some people without much justification, and we dislike others in the same manner. How can we forgive some people and welcome them back into our lives while wanting others far away at all costs. Most times those that we dislike have harmed our basic needs in a way that is hard to overcome.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs is a pyramid. Our motivation starts at the bottom of the pyramid and moves up as each need is met. The bottom of the pyramid is food, water and shelter. The areas continue with safety and security, belonging and love, self-esteem and finally self-actualization. The end game need is to be the very best that we can be. If your thoughts, actions, words or demeanor threaten any of these needs in an individual your influence with them shrinks. Inversely, if you respect those needs you are golden. 

It all seems so simple but we fail daily at the execution. If we have the desire to teach a concept to someone we can’t harm their self esteem by making them feel stupid. This applies to those we work with as well as our personal relationships. If someone doesn’t feel safe and secure around you then you can never reach the area of love and belonging with them. At the top of the pyramid we are growing and changing as a part of life. If you aren’t embracing changes and growth because it is unfamiliar you will lose influence in your relationship with that person. 

We make it all so complicated. Truly it could not be simpler. Everything breaks down to those basic needs. The actions of to give, to love and to serve are all about meeting those needs. How we choose to interact with the world directly affects our influence and therefore our ability to lead. At the bare minimum we all desire to lead ourselves well. One trap is that we desire to hide one need with an excess of another. We can overeat or starve ourselves because we don’t feel safe and secure. We can try to amass wealth or status symbols because we don’t feel love or belonging. We can be a doormat to others in the name of love because we don’t feel self esteem. The pitfalls are countless. 

The key to leading yourself and others down the correct path might truly be as simple as understanding our needs. It allows us to take the power away from those negative individuals. While opening our eyes to prevent our own negativity from running loose in the world.  If we see what needs are not being met, we can begin to work on the solutions. Without that information we are simply throwing wild darts hoping something sticks. My truly heartfelt wish for all of us is that we embrace the end of life knowing we became the very best version of ourselves and helped others on the way.