by Anne-Maria Yritys, Featured Contributor
As a leader, if you follow your heart, you will have the courage to take on any risk because your heart will lead you to the solution and avoid the risk. (Angeline Kobe Chan).
[su_dropcap style=”flat”]L[/su_dropcap]EADERSHIP, as everything else in life, includes many risks. Life itself is a risk, because no matter how much we plan and strategize, life will always have its surprises in storage for us. In terms of risks, leadership can also be compared to entrepreneurship – you cannot lead if you are not capable of taking, and living with them, neither can you be an entrepreneur without being prepared to take risks.
What are the biggest risks of leadership, then? Observation, personal life/work/study experiences as well as learning about leadership through online and printed media have taught me a number of lessons, including seven themes that I consider being the major risks and obstacles on your path to becoming a great leader. The 7 major risks are:
1. Being mentally (or physically, but usually mentally) blocked due to a specific reason (or, due to a number of reasons). Most often, the main risk on your path to being a great leader is YOU yourself, personally.
How can you overcome this? Depending upon YOU, you will have to make efforts including the fact that you agree with the fact that YOU personally are the one who is standing in your own way. Once you have realized this, take needed actions towards removing and overcoming your blockages. There are a number of ways to do this.
2. Negative self-talk, or listening to skeptics. NEVER EVER look down or yourself, or on others. And, never let other people put you down.
Solution: Whatever you do, focus on positivity. Start by cleansing yourself from any negative energies, or negative self-talk. Instead, wake up each morning and remind yourself about how great you are, and be thankful for everything you have in life. Be thankful for your life, and embrace the day by living in the present instead of thinking about possible past failures, or having too much concern about the future. Your life is here and now, in the present, and in order to be(come) a successful leader, you have to focus on living 100 % in the present moment. This life was given to you for a reason, and make sure to enjoy it to the fullest.
3. Focusing too much on external factors and motivators.
According to psychological theory, and studies about motivation, motivation is at its best when it is “an internal thing”. Truly successful, driven people, are motivated by internal, rather than by external factors. You have to find your true purpose inside yourself, and then get out in the world and release all the positive energy that is in store inside of you (in your body and soul).
4. Comparing yourself with others/Fear of loss and/or giving
What to do? Never compare yourself, your achievements, your life purpose, or your life path in general to those of other people. Your life path is always personal, and you should not have to explain your choices or decisions to people around you. Those who matter do not mind, and those who do not mind, do not matter. Peel the onion, get to the root of you, your desires, and instead of comparing yourself to other individuals, start living your life, and working towards your personal goals, to the fullest. The more you give, the more you will receive.
5. Lack of vision and purpose.
Are you in a state of amnesia, or at a crossroad, not knowing in which direction to go or what path to choose in life? Do not blame yourself. This is a major theme for many people, so you are not alone with this obstacle (it may be relieving to realize this). GIVE YOURSELF TIME. Sometimes, and very often, even the best of leaders get lost on their track. Instead of having feelings of despair, focus on the essentials in life, such as breathing, eating, and resting/sleeping enough. Meditate. Take some time out. Realize that Rome was not built in a day. We all have a purpose in life, and vision will come as soon as you take care of yourself holistically.
6. Isolation and lack of support/help.
Many people, and leaders, are lonely. Loneliness is not equal to being alone. Many people, and leaders, prefer spending some/a lot of time alone without feeling lonely. Nevertheless, we human beings are always more or less social, and need other human beings around us. Get a role model/role models, seek out the best mentor/s you possibly can, surround yourself with people who can help you on your path, and who support your growth. True leaders are never afraid of helping/seeking help or support, and they let others grow along and beside them without interfering.
7. Not enough self-knowledge/self-esteem
Leadership comes to those who are ready for it, regardless of age or other external criteria. You will know and feel your personal readiness, and so will the world around you. Leadership requires emotional maturity, a willingness to lead because of purpose and drive, and not because of other facts such as wanting to micro-manage or have power over other individuals.
At its best, leadership is wonderful, energizing, fulfilling, purposeful, exciting, uplifting, and contagious! And, as I have learned from my many mentors and role models, the purpose of leadership is to encourage, and grow more leaders. Leaders, who have a purpose and mission, and who are passionate enough to make an effort to fulfill their life purpose while engaging others along the way.
Attached an attached lecture about leadership and decision-making in the Face of Great Risk (Harvard Kennedy School):
You must do the thing you think you cannot do (Eleanor Roosevelt)
An individual who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his/her back on the crowd (Max Lucado)
The biggest risk is taking no risk (Mark Zuckerberg)
When you play it too safe, you are taking the biggest risk of your life. Time is the only wealth we are given. (Barbara Sher)
Leadership is action, not position (Donald H. McGannon)
Surrender to what is. Let go of what was. Have faith in what will be. (Sonia Ricotti)
Never allow waiting to become a habit. Live your dreams and take risks. Life is happening now. (unknown)
We make a living by what we get. But we make a life by what we give (Winston Churchill)
There can be no great accomplishment without any risk (Neil Armstrong)