I would like to begin by asking you an important question:
If you were doomed to live the same life over and over again for eternity, would you choose the life you are living now? The question is interesting enough, but I've always thought the point of asking it is really the unspoken, potentially devastating follow up question.That is, if the answer is no, then why are you living the life you are living now? Stop making excuses, and do something about it.
-William Alexander, The $64 Tomato
I would like to follow up that question with an Indian proverb, "When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a way so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice." We often come to the realization that we are not living the life we desire for ourselves, our descendants, or the people around us. We are stuck in the conundrum of everyday life and going through the motions, but we rarely go further than that realization. Think about it this way: how can we live our life so that the world cries when we die and we rejoice?
We mostly spend our lives conjugating three verbs: to want, to have, to do. We forget that none of these verbs have any ultimate significance, except so far as they are transcended by and included in the fundamental verb, to be.
Our identity becomes unstable because it is shaped solely by our personal past experiences. We come to have more perceived reality than truth, more premature judging than accurate assessments, and more distrust than trust. Because we've come to identify with world standards like power, prestige, and privilege our identity becomes shaped by these.
The results are clear, particularly in the corporate world. There is corporate idolatry, attachments, and addictions. We see all of these in examples like Volkswagen's recent emission deception. Because of customer dishonesty, there is a lack of trust and truth. There is disorder among employees because they are unable to see the bigger picture or trust their leaders. Corporations resort to power and authority, instead of love and service, to enhance performance.
Through this, we see the development of fear in our lives:
- Because I cannot trust my company, I will seek trust in myself
- Because I cannot trust my leaders, I will question every decision
- Because I cannot trust that my performance will receive just rewards, I will seek to do what is minimally required.
As transformative leaders we can make a difference and break out of the vicious cycle that has been created in the world around us. The will can do it all - except one thing: undo that which it has done.
"We are, in truth, more than half what we are by imitation.The great point is to choose models and to study them with care."
The difference maker is the transformative leader the one who chooses love over power, service over authority, trust over fear, and dignity over deception. Transformative leaders choose significance over success, and when they do, the world rejoices.