I was reading an article the other day that talked about leadership. It said that leadership is a set of principles. It argued that if we just know these, then we would be instantly transformed into a great leader.
But this is terribly misleading and incredibly irresponsible advice. It certainly fits with the mindset that says we can sit around and do nothing and success and riches are just something that will be handed to us because we somehow deserve it.
While I am completely opposed to this mindset, I can’t say that I have never fallen victim to the luring qualities of this perspective. It seems the easy route to rely on our defenses and find fault in others instead of in our self.
When things seem hard it is easier to think it is because of some unfair external reason, rather than face the fact that we could be the reason for our own struggle.
The reason I oppose this article was that it was deceptive. It said that all we have to do is “download” this new way of thinking and suddenly we would be a leader.
Leadership isn’t something that can be downloaded. Humans aren’t computers that can acquire great knowledge and powerful habits simply by clicking a link. It actually takes years and years of hard work to develop the skillset to lead.
So I started to think of this example of our operating system a little differently. Instead of us all having this operating system that can be instantly transformed with a download or upgrade, our operating system is constantly evolving. Every decision we make and action we take slowly changes that system.
If we make a bad decision it will negatively impact our operating system. If it is a small behavior it won’t have a drastic impact on our system but if it has major consequences it might instantly destroy our operating system.
So we should think more of a living thing than a computer system. If we are growing a tree, it won’t have a major impact if we forget to water it for one day. If we forget to water it enough it will have a noticeable impact. And if we take an axe and cut the tree down it will instantly destroy the tree.
Whether we want to think about our internal self as a living organism or computer system, though, is irrelevant. In order to improve we have to move away from the mindset that says we can forgo hard work and constantly take the short cut through life. We have to be willing to do the hard work and slowly improve over time.
This applies to almost every aspect of life. We can improve and accomplish great things in life but we can’t expect the short cut to take us there. We have to be willing to do the consistent work. But if we subscribe to this way of life, we can reach great heights and do incredible things.
So work to improve your operating system or grow your tree or whatever metaphor you want to use but realize that it is hard work and being willing to do what is necessary that will take you to success, not an instant download.