It was on my journey of leadership at the Carleton University Students’ Association that I stumbled on a simple yet profound truth.
We cannot solve tomorrow’s problems using yesterday’s methods.
Today, we face the world’s greatest refugee crisis. Topped by rising socio-political unrest, and a helpless global environmental crisis. Our world is changing at an unprecedented pace, undergoing its fourth revolution; the digital revolution.
Leaders who are stuck solving new problems using old methods will be quick to fail. We need leaders who not only put out fires but start them. We cannot get caught in thinking small. Leaders must seek to scalably and sustainably solve human problems. To do so, we must question old ideologies that have limited our scope; and explore a new sort of leadership philosophy.
Our leaders must become realist-idealists.
While in our traditional understanding, an idealist and a realist may seem like opposites. It is the combination of these two leadership attributes that inspire and mobilize people. Alone, these qualities are limited and ineffective.
For example, an idealist may have the necessary optimism and great vision to believe in the idealism of people. However, they ineffectively take into account the behavioural economics of our capitalist system. And the power dynamics of the democratic system that thrives on the fear and greed of people.
In contrast, a realist may understand how to navigate the political system and its underlying subtleties. They have their pragmatic focus on practical objectives that are achievable. However, they limit themselves by their pessimistic view of how things are instead of how things could be.
A Realist-Idealists’ vision can motivate and lift the people. Engage them with fiery passion around a future that could be, but takes a pragmatic approach. That acknowledges the reality of the challenge and its current obstacles. For our leaders to achieve the impossible, they must be able to work both agendas simultaneously in an effective manner. To thrive in the digital age, all leaders must adopt this philosophy. They must set audacious goals and find pragmatic tactics that lead to revolutionary results.
The Realist-Idealist understands that even though some goals are beyond reach, its the daily commitment to the unreasonable that makes it reasonable.
This was originally titled “The Reverse Gap” but I feel like “The Failure Story” is a more accurate description of this story. This is part two of a video I had put out last week, if you haven’t seen part 1, click the link below!
Did you know that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs doesn’t actually end with self-actualization?
“It is quite true that [we live] by bread alone—when there is no bread. But what happens to [our] desires when there is plenty of bread and when [our bellies are] chronically filled?”Abraham Maslow
Most of you
Thus the prevailing theory in
Maslow amended his model near the end of his life.
Maslow’s later thinking argued that there is a higher level of development, what he called “self-transcendence”. This comes after self-actualization, where our focus shifts from beyond ourselves to altruism, liberation from egocentricity, and the ultimate unity of a being.
“Transcendence refers to the very highest and most inclusive or holistic levels of human consciousness, behaving and relating, as ends rather than means, to oneself, to significant others, to human beings in general, to other species, to nature, and to the cosmos.”(The Farther Reaches of Human Nature, New York, 1971, p. 269.)
It is the act of transcending past one’s own ego and living a life of giving to others.
“At the level of self-actualization, the individual works to actualize the individual’s own potential [whereas] at the level of transcendence, the individual’s own needs are put aside, to a great extent, in favor of service to others”“Rediscovering the Later Version of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Self-Transcendence and Opportunities for Theory, Research, and Unification.” Koltko-Rivera
Many of you would describe your life purpose as a form of helping the world, helping others, building community, making an impact or creating a change. This falls directly in line with moving past self-actualization.
Many people who volunteer or help others for the first time in a long time, reflect on this feeling of joy and happiness they got from helping others. This is the feeling that Maslow is referring too with transcend.
The best leaders amongst us have reached a deep level of emotional awareness (self-actualization) and have begun practising the daily acts of leadership, through coaching, mentoring, giving and guiding and thus entering self-transcendence.
…the real aim of human existence cannot be found in what is called self-actualization. Human existence is essentially self-transcendence rather than self-actualization. Self-actualization is not a possible aim at all; for the simple reason that the more a [person] would strive for it, the more [they] would miss it. For only to the extent to which [people] commit [themselves] to the fulfillment of [their] life’s meaning, to this extent [they] also actualize [themselves.] In other words, self-actualization cannot be attained if it is made an end in itself, but only as a side-effect of self-transcendence.”Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl
Taking one out of Tim Ferris’ books, he writes a weekly blog sharing a few things about what he’s doing currently, so here are mine.
What I’m reading –
Currently reading Seth Godin’s “Free Prize Inside” Marketing book. It hypothesizes that there are diminishing returns on traditional advertising as marketing methodologies. We can’t seem to think that our problem is that people simply haven’t heard about us, but instead that we’re missing the “free prize inside.” Using the example of how cereal box advertisers started including prizes in their boxes as a differentiator, you want the cereal he said, but you bought it for the prize. What’s the free prize inside in your business?
What I’m listening to –
Currently listening to The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller. Its simple hypothesis is that we often fail because we try and do too many things. The most successful businesses and people focus on ONE thing. Google dominates search. Yes, they have other products and provide other services, but they established dominance by focusing on ONE thing. Multi-tasking is a scientifically proven lie, so stop doing it now. Ask yourself each day, what’s the ONE thing I need to do today. Ask this every week, every month and every year. When you genuinely dig deep, there indeed is only ONE thing.
Who I’m following on Instagram –
I’ve been loving Garyvee lately. I wasn’t always a huge fan of his aggressive style, but I’ve found some sanity in his words as I’ve been hustling away and trying to figure out this how digital marketing, social media, and leadership speaker thing.
Quote I’m pondering –
“Idealism increases in direct proportion to one’s distance from the problem.” John Galsworthy
What I’m watching –
YouTube. I never used to watch YouTube. Honestly never got into following people and well I and pop culture were never really a thing. However, as I’m getting more involved in the art of video creation, my team has requested that I start watching more YouTube to immerse myself in the culture and understand the style. So lately I love Ryan Serhant’s channel; check this video out: STOP WASTING TIME ON THINGS YOU CAN’T CONTROL | Ryan Serhant Vlog #51
Cause I’m supporting –
I always have, will continue to still support the empowerment of youth in sparking remarkable change. I’ll be keynoting on May 2nd at the annual Boys and Girls Clubs of Ottawa Breakfast fundraiser, and I’m excited to share the story of how this small community changed my family’s life.
Person I’m learning more about –
Myself. I’ve taken a very introspective month. Reflecting on my habits, my thoughts, my mindsets, and my approach to things. I have so much to learn, but I’m always astonished at how much more awareness I still have to gain. My fears, limiting beliefs, and triggers play a subconscious role that I’ve merely been working on making conscious. The first step is to recognize when it’s happening.
But also; just recently finished Barrack Obama’s Biography and I loved it.
The secret to getting better performance out of yourself and others?
Breaking news: The Carrot and Stick method doesn’t work for attaining peak performance.
So what does?
Trust your team and give them the freedom to be self-directed. To own decisions and direction of projects. Empower them to experiment and create their roadmaps, for them to make changes based on the new knowledge they’ve acquired. You should have hired people better than you, and if that’s true, than why are you still telling them how to do it?
Autonomy also applies to you. Give yourself the freedom and get out of the “should” and “shouldn’t” dos of life.
Traditional notions of management have utterly failed at giving autonomy. For example, look at the brain drain that’s happening in government departments.
You like getting better at what you do. So does your team. You have fun learning and growing and mastering your craft. Growth mindset teams perform the best. You like a challenge, something that’s just out of reach, where you’ll have to grow to reach it.
Inherently peak performers want to be the best, and the simple act of getting better keeps them motivated. Create room for growth. Create an opportunity for learning. Learning requires the chance to experiment with new ideas and that inherently means failing.
The mastering of their craft is how you help create peak performers.
You’re about to tell me that you’ve heard this one before. You probably have, but what have you done about it?
Adding meaning and purpose to your work allows you to integrate your work with your life, instead of seeking ‘balance.’ Seeking time away from work continually shows that it may not necessarily be aligned with your life purpose.
Your team wants to feel that work is personally important to them. Team members must think that their work matters and creates change and impact.
It’s surprising what can happen to average teams who put in place these three simple rules.
I’m taking on this new challenge to help myself in focusing on my personal development.
I’m focusing on ONE mindset shift for the whole week. Then introduce the next mindset shift, but every week only concentrate on ONE.
I have 12 identified, which means I can cycle through these 12, four times in a year. Every week I only focus on making sure I get this one shift ingrained.
If I FOCUS on ONE major shift; perhaps I’ll catch myself slipping in areas where I wasn’t aware of before. Understanding that changing habits and shifting a mindset takes constant battling with your old ways.
My ONE thing for this week is taken directly out of the Optimist Creed:
“To give so much time to improving myself that I have no time to criticize others.”Christian D. Larson
What’s your ONE thing for this week? Just choose one and pay close attention to when it comes up.
There’s a well-known fable about the importance of our perspectives. While I’ve been unable to find the original author of the story, I want to share it with you.
One day, a father and his rich family took his young son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose to show him how poor people can be. They spent a day and a night on the farm of a very poor family. When they got back from their trip, the father asked his son, “How was the trip?”
“Very good, Dad!”
“Did you see how poor people can be?” the father asked.
“And what did you learn?”
The son answered, “I saw that we have a dog at home, and they have four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of the garden; they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lamps in the garden; they have the stars. Our patio reached to the front yard; they have a whole horizon.”
When the little boy was finishing, his father was speechless. His son added, “Thanks, Dad for showing me how poor we are!”
I recall being in my gr.10 leadership camp at Colonel By Secondary School when I first read the fable.
It showed me how two people could experience the same events but perceive the situation entirely differently.
Our success, happiness and ability to make an impact on this world all begins with what we focus on.
As you get older and you gain more awareness, you realize that you have a choice in rour perspectives.
You can choose how you see the world.
But this requires you to take responsibility for how unhappy you currently are, and that is far too difficult for most people. Most people are used to externalizing the blame of their unhappiness and continue to live blind to how a simple perspective shift can change everything.
What do you focus on?
We’re all naturally egocentric.
Our love for Hollywood movies comes from envisioning ourselves as the main actors, in a heroic triumph. Even in romance or mystery novels, we connect with the characters, relate to their problems and their imperfections.
We see ourselves as the protagonist of our own movie, called Life.
We’re the Luke Skywalker who’s been abandoned, yet destined for greatness. Everyone in our lives are the supporting cast, and secondary actors that are there to either guide us, or get in the way of reaching the climactic victory.
But as leaders, you’re not Luke Skywalker.
As a leader, you’re Yoda.
Mentoring his people.
Bringing teams together.
Helping people believe in themselves.
We think Yoda is this wise-old-man figure until we watch his fight scene. He kicks ass and we learn that he can destroy entire worlds.
But the secret about Yoda is that he leads through influence. He provides the exemplary leadership to allow his people to follow, and his younger leaders to take action.
As a leader, you’re not the protagonist of your own story. You must make your people feel like they are the Luke Skywalkers, destined for greatness, and supported by a cast.
“Many of the truths that we cling to depend on our point of view.”– Yoda
You can never win in an argument, even if you’re right.
I tell you this as someone who loves debating. I grew up as one of six siblings in a family household of eight. As a child, I learned that I had to argue and fight for everything I wanted.
I was proud as my skills for arguing became sharp, and my witty personality kept me quick on my feet. Though only in my twenties did I began to see the faults in my ways.
Winning an argument is like winning a fist fight. You likely got hurt a few times in the process, and you left your ‘opponent’ wholly destroyed.
But if your goal is indeed to win over the person with whom you’re arguing, does destroying them ever work?
Ask yourself, have you ever been in an argument, where after you were proven wrong, you liked the other person and agreed? Or were you more likely to hold your position in arrogance, or ‘redefine’ what you originally meant in the first place?
If you’re on the losing side of the argument, you are rarely happy with the result. Even though you know you’re wrong, it leaves you with a distaste in your mouth. A win that leaves your teammate with an awful feeling is never a win in the world of leadership and team dynamics.
Your goal is to build each other up, debate ideas, and seek the truth – but how do we do that without engaging in arguments?
Well, it’s not necessarily avoiding arguments, but how we argue.
From my days as a political science student, I like to implore the Socratic Method.
It is a form of cooperative argumentative dialogue, based on asking and answering questions that stimulate critical thinking and draw out ideas or underlying assumptions.
Simply put, ask well-thought-out questions, listen carefully, have constructive dialogue and provide safety.
The person we believe the most, is ourselves.
Look to guide and lead to the answer, instead of showing and telling.