If you go out to your building site and start putting your building blocks up, someone will eventually come and ask you what you’re building. If you reply, “I dunno, but it’s going to be great! It will be Fantastic! Everyone will love it!” then you’re in for a shock. “I dunno” is not very specific. How will you know that you’ve succeeded? If you are building a group of determined, smart, competent leaders, you have to have something to model. Your blueprint for effective leadership is…YOU!
How do you become a determined, smart, competent leader? You have to be indeterminate, dumb and incompetent first. That’s expensive, by the way. When you are starting to become a leader, unless you follow a good leader’s footsteps, you have to make all the mistakes yourself. If you follow a mentor around, he/she will tell you how to avoid their mistakes. What if the mistakes you make are not some your mentor made? What if the conditions for their rise to leadership cannot be duplicated? The most important thing you always have to do is to invest in yourself as a leader. Spend the time, read the books, go to the seminars, talk with other leaders. Then you must put these things into practice. Now I’m not talking methods, I’m talking perspectives.
How far do you look ahead? How detailed do you get? Do you see both the destination and the path? Can you anticipate all the possible snags in the path? Well, you can’t anticipate anything if you have no experience. You have to gain experience as a follower, or a fledgling leader. You must be AWARE of the actions and the conditions around you. You must be AWARE of the way you perceive things. Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Do you expect the best or the worst of people? When things go wrong, do you say to yourself, “Well, I expected that…things like this always happen to me,” and go and mope?
How far in the future do you see? How far do you want to? If you’re heading for a point on the horizon, it’s easy to make corrections to your path. It make take you longer to get there, but as long as you keep your eyes on the target, you’ll be fine. If you cannot see the horizon, it gets tricky! If you know where the goal is, even if you cannot see it, you have a general direction. You want to get to the point where it is visible as soon as possible so that you can plan your approach. Wandering around in that general direction can end up being exasperating and discouraging. But once you can see the finish line, you can head purposefully into that direction. Then be AWARE of the things around you…the culture, the language used (positive or negative? encouraging or discouraging?), the experiences it takes to go from one point to another. JOURNAL! Every thing you have to go through to get to where you want to be helps you. How you react to the experiences tells you a lot about yourself. Did you accomplish what you wanted? Who or what could have helped you? When you face this kind of experience again, do you now know what to do? Each experience you have, though, allows you to see just a bit further into the future. It allows you to see more detail. It stretches your vision.
Your Blueprints are the approaches you take to life’s learning experiences. You have to decide how to react, how to think, how to plan. Without the blueprints, you cripple your learning and your progress. With any plans there are going to be contingency plans. Worst Case Scenario situations arise (or there wouldn’t be a Worst Case Scenario!) and you must expect plans to go off the rails on occasion. The blueprints NEVER include contingency plans when you’re building a building. But the blueprints for your attitude toward disasters and catastrophes make all the difference between success and failure. In fact the blueprints for your perception of failure can make failure a good thing. The difference between the blueprints for a building and the blueprints for leadership is that the blueprints for the building are drawn up after all the contingencies are explored, all the material requirements are known, and all the permits have been filed. The blueprints result from the consultations with the architect, the general contractor, and the client. Once they’re drawn up, they don’t change. Your blueprints as a leader cannot be drawn up and not changed. As you grow, you’re almost adding another floor with more rooms, and a fountain, and a swing set. You just have to establish the basics to start with.
So, Today, set your blueprint. How do I approach life and its ups and downs? How do I expect my day to go? What happened to me today that made me think? What did I see that I could improve? What am I more aware of now than I was yesterday? Do I catch myself saying self defeating things and consciously make changes? How can what happens to me today make a positive difference in what happens to me tomorrow? Does my awareness of my self talk make me more aware of the self talk of others around me? When you’ve answered these questions, journal them. Congratulations! You have your first wall in your foundation!!!