"Live now; make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again."
~ Jean-Luc Picard
Imagine for a moment that you find yourself standing alone in pure darkness. In your pocket is a flashlight and when you flip the switch it emits a soft yellow beam, illuminating a narrow footpath. This light allows you to see just a few feet in front of you, so you slowly begin exploring your surroundings and reacting to obstacles as they appear in your path. You have no ability to plan a course or assess your surroundings; your reality is limited to that which the light touches. The possibilities of an alternate route or different resources don’t even cross your mind because you must keep moving forward, and you’re getting pretty comfortable with the obstacles on this path.
Does this sound familiar? If you ever feel like there has to be a better way, you’re not alone! Leaders so often succeed to a point based on their specific education, network, personal experience and track record. Unfortunately, these elements can only get you so far. Operating within that narrow scope of personal reality will become a limiting factor in leadership effectiveness. Leaders convince themselves that they are too busy “reacting” to obstacles, so they can’t make the time to pause and consider an alternate route. Leaders convince themselves that they have gotten pretty comfortable managing these obstacles, so it is pointless to invest in greater efficiency. Leaders convince themselves that their path is the only one, because they cannot see any others.
All of this convincing diminishes a leader’s awareness and weakens the leadership beam. What if there is another path, just beyond the edge of the light? What if there are new and different challenges just ahead that haven’t been experienced yet? What other opportunities might you see, if your beam were just a bit brighter?
A powerful leadership beam will help you to understand how to lead others, make decisions, and maximize your productivity. Leaders strengthen their leadership beam by challenging their own assumptions, considering the possibility of different realities, taking risks, and turning off “auto pilot” to be in the moment. The most successful and revered leaders understand the importance of a relentless focus towards strengthening their leadership beams.
Let’s return to the introduction where you found yourself standing alone in that pure darkness, but this time when you turn on the flashlight it is as if you have raised the sun. With your surroundings bright and clear, you can see that you are on top of a mountain, and you take in the sweeping vista. From this perspective, you can see miles around, and realize that the opportunities and potential are limitless.
This week’s inquiry…
What opportunities might you be missing just outside of your leadership beam?
Innovation and discovery don’t often arise out of following the beaten path, and in this inspirational clip from classic Star Trek, Captain Kirk passionately encourages the team to boldly go where no man has gone before.
“..the possibilities, the potential for knowledge and advancement is equally great.”
Strengthening your leadership beam is about broadening your perspective and no longer relying on just the individual drivers of success. In Give and Take, Grant highlights that effective networking, collaboration, influence, and negotiation skills have the power to transform not just individuals and groups, but entire organizations and communities.