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9 Steps on the Leadership Path
Success is a journey, not a destination. The way you react to change will greatly affect your trip. If you merely cope with the inevitable bumps and hurdles, you can expect mediocrity. But if you seek out and embrace change, you will discover it can be a source of great inspiration.
Step 1: View change as a challenge.
Every change, even if it's negative, presents an opportunity. Change can be an ally - if you take advantage of it.
Step 2: Build commitment through goals and passion.
Most successful people do what they say they will, when they say they will. Their passion provides them with energy and motivation to persevere. "I've never worked primarily for material gains," says Jenny Craig, president of her own nationally-famous weight-loss company. "If you love something, you will be good at it, and you'll be successful." True commitment doesn't require self-righteousness. If you forget the joy
that sustains your work, your goals will be overwhelmed with a feeling of emptiness.
Step 3: Stay committed when the going gets tough.
Open your mind to what you can do. Professional speaker and former NFL referee Jim Tunney shared this inspirational story: "One year, at the California State Special Olympics, I saw a kid with cerebral palsy who couldn't use either hand and one of his legs. He was entered in a wheelchair race, but all he could use to push himself was his one leg and that wouldn't make the chair go forward. So, the young boy turned his wheelchair around and pushed it
backward. He won the race. Whenever I miss my goal, I think, 'How can I approach it differently?' There is always another way."
Step 4: Know when to control and when to let go.
Each of us is tempted toward undercontrol or overcontrol. Undercontrollers panic when challenge strikes. Rather than leading when necessary, overcontrollers try to do it all. The key is balance.
Step 5: Deal with your setbacks.
Everyone experiences problems. The Rev. Norman Vincent Peale tells of a time he was walking down the street in New York City when he ran into an old friend, George.
"Norman, I'm fed up," George announced. "I have nothing but problems, problems, problems. I'd give you $5,000 right now if you could get rid of all my problems."
Peale ruminated for a minute and then replied: "Just yesterday I was in a place where there were a lot of people with no problems. Would you like to go there?"
George pounced on the offer.
"Good," Peale answered. "Tomorrow afternoon, I'll take you to the Westchester Cemetery. The only people who don't have problems are dead."
In times of trouble, allow yourself to experience negative emotions, deal with them and move on.
Step 6: Be optimistic.
Leaders who are upbeat and positive inspire similar feelings in their teams. Researcher Martin Seligman found that optimists and pessimists view the same events in dramatically different ways. An optimist sees obstacles as temporary roadblocks. Also, an optimist concentrates on specific events. Confronted with a failed plan, he'll look for the one mistake. The pessimist sees only the broken dream rather than focusing on the real causes and real remedies. To
boost your ability to deal with change, concentrate on what's going right.
Step 7: Learn from mistakes.
People who win big don't escape failure. Mistakes provide important information to help us deal with changes in our lives. Unfortunately, some people ignore errors or try to forget them. Others berate themselves for making blunders. The inner critic runs wild. While you need your inner critic, you need to keep it focused and under control.
Step 8: Maintain perspective.
In addition to personal challenge, personal examination is essential for maintaining perspective. The majority of peak performers take time to be alone every day. A time of personal reflection or Bible study can be a great way to re-charge your batteries and give you a better sense of perspective.
Step 9: Communicate effectively.
Many people talk too much. They're busy waiting to say something and don't really listen to what the other person says. When it's their turn to speak, they don't shut up.
As important as listening is learning to ask questions effectively and state opinions cogently. Model your public speaking skills after another coach you admire.
Reprinted from NSCAA.com's Educating Coaches on Leadership section.