Resilient leaders make things fall into place, unlike other leaders. They don’t blame their circumstances. Instead they take responsibility for their actions and invest their efforts to influence situations and outcomes.
–Professor M.S. Rao, international leadership guru, author of forty-eight books including the award-winning See the Light in You
THIS BOOK IS BASED on my experience in working with clients who have made a commitment to change their professional and personal lives. It is the result of more than thirty years of education in behavioral and organizational challenges, hundreds of books read, countless seminars, conferences, certifications, and facilitating my own leadership training programs. These experiences have led me to a profound understanding of what it takes to be a great leader.
We are all leaders of our own lives. If you aspire to be a leader of others, you must first do your own work. Self-awareness is the first step in any change process. Great leaders are not born, they are forged in the steel of experience, both positive and negative. Ultimately, great leaders become conscious of their impact on the world around them and choose to make change a positive experience for everyone.
Change is hard. Facing our limitations, feelings of inadequacy, and beliefs that we are not good enough impacts many of us.
In order to change, you must let go of limited thinking and confront the behaviors that do not serve your best interests. Letting go of what doesn’t serve you is a journey of discovery. Whether you know it or not, limited thinking has influenced the quality of your life. As a simple test, ask yourself, “Is my life working the way I want it to?”
In order to change, you must believe there is something better. To do that, you need a vision of where you want to go.
Having a vision of where you’re going is the first step of the VITAL acronym I use for The Fearless Foundations of Great Leadership program. It stands for Vision, Insights, Trust, Appreciation and Legacy. Cultivating each of these elements creates strong leaders who make a difference in organizations.
When you have a Vision of where you’re going and what you want, and can imagine your future, your vision will pave the way to your success.
Insights offer a path to clarify your strengths and weaknesses, the understanding you need to achieve your vision. Over time, your vision and insights will not only provide greater knowledge of who you are, but also what is possible, and how you can achieve it.
When you have gained this awareness, you will learn to Trust yourself, move beyond the fears that get in the way of your success, and build trust with others.
You will learn to Appreciate how important it is to have this self-awareness, and to value the contributions of others by showing them that you care.
When you put these VITAL elements together, you will influence people positively and leave a lasting impression that becomes your Legacy.
Paraphrasing Maya Angelou, “It doesn’t matter what you do, or what you say, it’s the way you make people feel that matters.” When you leave a lasting impression of good feeling, you have made a difference in someone’s life.
In the course of this book, I will cover the fundamentals of the VITAL acronym, not necessarily in the exact order of the acronym. You will learn how each of these elements correlate to form the big picture.
At the end of each chapter you will find a section called Deep Dive, containing powerful questions designed to produce greater understanding. These questions are also in the Worksheet guide at the end of the book.
Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds
cannot change anything.
–George Bernard Shaw
Change is not for the faint of heart. Less than 2% of the world’s population actually makes a conscious effort to change. Most of the time, change happens through circumstance.
To change, you must be curious. It takes courage to look yourself in the mirror and ask:
o Who do I want to become?
o What actions must I take to create the life I want?
o What is the best way forward?
o Where do I stand in my own way?
o What does a good life look like?
We spend our lives looking for answers—the opposite of what we should be doing. Imagine if you spent your life looking for the right questions. What do you think might happen?
Discovering “aha” moments—when something clicks and you just know the right answer, decision or choice—is expansive and illuminating. What sparks these insights?
I guarantee that is a great question.
Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” He believed a conversation that stimulates ideas based on asking and answering questions is the most dynamic of all human behaviors. This became known as the Socratic method. The intention is to help a person or group discover deeper meaning and explore alternative actions and ideas. This is the very definition of coaching.
When you ask powerful questions, you must stop and consider the reasons why you are asking these questions. It’s not enough to find the answers; you also need to know why these answers are important to you.
Throughout this book I will present deep, reflective questions that can lead to powerful answers. It takes courage and fearlessness to truly embrace the power of questions, because questions lead to insights that accelerate some kind of change.
Socrates spoke of courage as “endurance of the soul.” To transform yourself, you must be resilient and willing to endure any discomfort that occurs as part of your change process. As I cheerfully tell my clients, “Get comfortable being uncomfortable.” It’s how we change for the better!
The power of questions cannot be underestimated. Questions help uncover the layers of what is most important to you, and ultimately unlock areas where you need to grow. If you take this journey seriously and dig deeply to answer your own questions, a treasure trove of insights awaits you. In the hard work of asking powerful questions lie insights that will change your thinking, and ultimately change your life.
Take the Next Step
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
–Lao Tzu, The Art of War
Finding direction in life takes time. We all need guides to help us find the way. Whether using self-development tools like this one or sharing what’s most important to you with another, finding direction is about figuring out what you want, and what it will take to get you there.
The truth is: We all know what’s good for us. We know what we should be doing, could be doing, and are not doing. The tricky part is staying on task and sticking with it when it gets hard, because once you are committed to change, you’re in. There is no turning back. You can’t just suddenly turn off the spigot and hope you can go back to being who you were. It’s a law of physics: Once the wheels are in motion, they stay in motion.
This is an action book. It asks hard questions and demands answers that only you can provide. If you are committed to being the best version of yourself, you will do the necessary work. If you are looking for magic bullets, this isn’t it. Don’t skip over the deep dive section at the end of each chapter. Take time to reflect on how they resonate in your life.
You will feel things you may not have felt for some time, or maybe ever. You will step into realities that have been with you for a long time, that have made you uncomfortable and probably scared you. Through this process, you will grow and become the person you want to be: a Fearless leader, a Fearless entrepreneur, a Fearless individual who possesses the courage to change.
All adventures start with the unknown.
Are you willing to make the journey and commit to being the best version of you?