Have you ever considered the qualities of the worlds greatest leaders? Whether you’re a business owner, employed or a stay at home parent, the way in which you lead your tribe/employees/clients/colleagues/family, quite frankly matters!! Consider this; regardless of what we have learned so far in life, if we do not lead from our heart, our inner self, how are we going to convince others of our authenticity? How will others around you stick by you, trust you, encourage you? It is a great thing to have influencers, people who we look up to, whose values and opinions resonate with us. Influencers teach us so much don’t they? But the ultimate responsibility of what we implement is down to us.
You see, great leaders, they can fail and still be great leaders. Sir Richard Branson fails marvellously, never losing any respect from his crowd. In fact, any failures are hardly noticed and most, such as his failed space mission attempt, raise a few ‘ahhh you’ll do it next time’ noises. We don’t doubt him, we don’t admonish him and we still applaud him.
So exactly what are his magic ingredients? Why do we continue to look up to great leaders even in their deepest darkest most despairing moments? Our babies have the answer:
Babies v Adults
1. Babies demand food, they cry and send clear signals when they need nourishing or caring for because they know without doubt that to survive, they need your attention. There is no skipping meals, there is no fussy eating, they just know they need sustenance. Babies don’t question whether they deserve food and sustenance or use it to punish themselves or even love themselves, to them, it is just necessary.
Babies will not be comforted until they have had their vital life source…food and water! (milk). They will not quieten and get on with their day until they are satisfied and there is no clearer sign of contentment when a baby’s hunger is quelled.
Adults – we become obsessed with food, either to consume too much or to starve ourselves. We seek thrills in food and fail to recognise that we eat to get nourished. We use food as a weapon or treat for ourselves or those around us. Many of us fail to pay homage to our food and we do not feel gratitude for what is before us. Consider this; what sort of messages and communication do you have around food? Do you skip meals and work through lunch breaks? Is this what your employees see? Is this the norm within your family? Then these are the messages you are transmitting. Show those around you the importance of nourishing their bodies and taking time out to eat properly and well. Allow others to do the same and acknowledge that they need a break to recharge and refresh in order to be healthy and happy
This particular lesson can be further complicated if we don’t take into account the other aspect of the need for us to ask for what we want, whether it be food, shelter, money or absolutely anything. Babies, they get nourished and their needs met by telling us they need it, shouting about it and not stopping until it is there before them. So many of us accept lack, misfortune, yet never declare what we do actually want. Be bold in your statements and communicate to others exactly what it is you need. Go set your intentions!!
2. Babies learn to crawl without fear. They flex their muscles and wriggle their limbs each day because they know instinctively to build their strength and that they are off exploring as soon as possible. No matter how many times they fall (fail) they take it on the chin and continue to go again, each time growing and learning new ways of exploring the world around them.
You drag them away from the fire they’re crawling towards and they simply go again when you let go of them. Have you ever wondered why this is? They didn’t sense the danger, you did! This wasn’t their failure it was yours. Now I am not suggesting that you allow them to crawl into the fire by any means. I am simply pointing out that until around 15 months, if a baby hasn’t learned a lesson for himself, he will continue to try to succeed.
Adults – many learn a skill tentatively. We question our ability, intellect and lose motivation when we fall (fail) forgetting that failure is part of success. We forget to see failure as lessons and so don’t seek new ways to implement what we have learnt. We fear being judged and so accept failure.
Those around us often imitate this without knowing. When we give up, they give up too. Of course great leaders may sometimes give up, but not without exploring absolutely every avenue. Great leaders will pioneer new thought, methods and ways of doing things in fact because they didn’t give up. Some of the best leaders who ever lived such as Nelson Mandella, failed at one thing only to find success at another, even in the face of adversity, even when they fell.
3. Babies trust – they trust that they will get fed, loved, nurtured. If mum doesn’t come when they cry, they continue crying because they EXPECT love. They smile at you regardless of your mood. They don’t allow others to influence their own joy, they feel it naturally, providing they have been fed and changed and are not tired. They chuckle and giggle and provoke your laughter over the simplest of situations and it is such a powerful medicine for those of us around them
Adults – we learn to suffer, to accept limits and to not trust. Adults avoid situations because they may get their feelings hurt and fail to trust again. Relationships, boring jobs, lack of money all affect our inner joy and we enter a vicious cycle of ‘only being happy when’.
It may appear that great leaders are lucky, wealthy, in the right place at the right time, however, most have failed and have had hardships. Most great leaders have experienced loss in some form or another and no doubt most have allowed themselves to wallow in it for a time. The difference is that it doesn’t take them out of the game. They continue on their journey and feel gratitude for those special moments that sometimes are few and far between.
Babies are magnificent aren’t they? They lead us, they adore us and we them. They easily persuade us to bestow on them everything they need without question, even when we are at our most tired. In exactly the same way, great leaders inspire the same commitment. We sense or often witness their fearlessness, their willingness to fail and learn and try again. We celebrate their successes and we talk about how amazing the lessons were that we learned from the failures and we follow, we worship and we adore
Be brave and cultivate your own inner leader. Inspire those around you and share your failures as well as your successes. Be willing to allow others to pull you back from the fire if necessary instead of allowing your ego to go it alone. It doesn’t mean you can’t try again, it means you can reassess, readjust and reaffirm!!