Leaders share their gifts with others. We tend to not share our struggles or the lessons we learn from them. They are painful and very personal. But once he shared his story—his struggles—they connected, and it gave them meaning. It not only changed the employees but more importantly, it changed him. He understood them better and became a more compassionate leader.
His journey to founding and building the Populus Group is full of ups and downs. But every struggle left him with a gift he used to grow and overcome. The stories he shares are relatable and illuminate the gifts that will help you become a better leader. Enduring cultures are never enforced by a top-down hierarchy. Everyone lives in a culture, and therefor everyone must use their voice to contribute to it. Own Your Part: Leadership amounts to wanting more for your people than we want from them. Always be a Student: If you want to be a wise leader someday, you must fiercely apply what you learn.
You must also be selective when choosing who you will study.
There are peaks and valleys—the business cycles we endure, the victories and pain points within an organization—that we experience as highs and lows. And yet as long as our doors remain open, there is no final endpoint, only new challenges, problems, innovations, and solutions. Everyone you hire started their career climb before you met them, and they will continue climbing for a long time after their tenure with your company is over. All of us are working within our own set of constraints, goals, and unexpected life events that shape our journey.
Your job as a leader is to encourage the growth of your people and to appreciate their particular contributions to the ongoing climb of the company. Regardless of when a person chooses to strike out on a different course, celebrate your time together. Life is a sequence of intersections, shared efforts, and differing goals.
Elevation Mastery Program
Welcome it into our lives as a tool for growth and increased meaning. Strength comes from our struggles. When you view your struggles as a gift, you will become a stronger, more resilient, and more compassionate leader. And yet, what is crystal clear to me after 20 years in leadership roles is that those ingredients, while important to success, aren't enough if you've forgotten the fundamentals of being positive, learning from others, being honest and the kind of person people want to work with. I wrote the book Always and Never: 20 Truths for a Happy Heart , to help center readers on guardrails for living and leading at your best.
When you step outside of these boundaries, your professional and personal life are likely to suffer, holding you back on both fronts. Read, reflect, and recommit to these Always and Nevers, and realize the kind of future you've been planning for. What you say and how you feel starts with the way you think.
The way you think about everything is in your control. Thoughts are like seeds that need to be watered and nurtured with real knowledge, by real experts and real friends. A curious, open mind lets in the necessary sunshine. Never forget that you are in charge of the way you think and a healthy mind requires ongoing fertilization. And then listen some more.
Listen to understand, to demonstrate empathy, and to give the gift of your time and attention. Listen with your eyes as well as your ears. This requires slowing down long enough to truly see the person in front of you. They want a sounding board, reassurance, and to connect with someone close to them. Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Christianity, and Islam all subscribe to a version of the Golden Rule in their religious teachings.
The truth has everything to do with intent. When intentions are pure and not mixed with anything else, there is the capacity for truth.
Positively Brilliant Self-mastery
In your daily consumption of information and interactions be aware of sources involved and their potential motives. People who spread rumors and half-truths are always recruiting new members. The ability to build and keep trust is worth more than anything else you can bring to the table. There is no skill, degree, or talent that can replace it. Trust is the connective tissue between you and every important relationship in your life: your parents, spouse, boss, coworkers, and friends.
The most important relationship you will ever have is the one you have with yourself. Take care of your health and finances on a daily basis. Make your voice the loudest you hear, and the first one you listen to about your hopes and dreams.
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The compelling force for happiness and success in your life is you and only you. There is something you can do to maintain your youthful outlook on life—always be a student. Read books and magazines that broaden your horizons. Continuing your education in formal and informal ways will keep you young and interesting. They can be wrapped in fear or prejudice.
Opinions can make people as impervious as steel preventing the passage to clear thinking or new possibilities. Keep your mind free of opinions and focus on acquiring real knowledge. Be selective about people who hold themselves out as experts. The best knowledge possible is that which comes from your first-hand research and experiences. Get the facts before you make big purchases, cast your vote, or try to influence others.
Allow yourself to see mistakes in a whole new light. Learn from them, and one day, your mistakes will provide material for the stories you tell, your heartfelt advice to others and your expanding book of self-confidence. Always forgive yourself and others for making mistakes. Make decisions based on the best information you have and be confident you will be able to handle the outcome.
If you want to be known as a team player, to be included in big projects and considered for promotion, look for ways to acknowledge others and their contributions. In fact, the group is always smarter than any one person, so why not embrace it and say so. When you make co-workers feel a part of something, they are inspired to do their best. People who inspire are literally pushed up the ladder by their peers.
These principles come to you as a loving reminder, moment of reassurance, and reaffirmation of all that is important today and will be for the rest of your life. It comes from someone who has learned through experience these change-proof concepts the hard way. I hope you'll share them with those you love. I hope it brings you comfort, joy and all the blessings of a life well-lived. J ERRY COLONNA helps start-up CEOs make peace with their demons, the psychological habits and behavioral patterns that have helped them to succeed—molding them into highly accomplished individuals—yet have been detrimental to their relationships and ultimate well-being.
He states that much of what he has learned about growing up came from learning to lead. Reboot is a peak into his life and the lives of leaders as they come to terms with who they are and what is holding them back. Who we are shows up in our leadership. Sometimes we use the organizations we lead to make ourselves feel better about our unresolved issues. The back of the warrior is strengthened by knowledge of knowing the right thing to do. The soft, open heart is made resilient by remembering who you are, what you have come through, and how those things combine to make you unique as a leader.
Learning to leader yourself is hard because it requires us to look at the reality of all that we are—not to fix blame on ourselves but to understand with clarity what is really happening in our lives. Learning to lead yourself is hard because it is painful. There it is. That same old haunting belief system. But the spinning prevents us from being who we really are.
False grit is brittle. False grit is dangerous. It feeds a stubbornness that, in turn, can feed delusion. We mistake the tendency to delude ourselves that our relationship will improve, our companies will succeed, if only we double down on our old patterns, grip the steering wheel until our knuckles whiten, and bear down.
Stubbornness is not the hallmark of the warrior. Leaders who persist out of stubbornness, believing themselves to be gritty, are at best delusional and, at worst, reckless.