You may not think of yourself as a leader, but you are. There are many ways you may be a leader: Self-leadership, leading a home, leading at work, leading at school, leading in traffic and being a shopping Ninja. Each form of leadership is important and has an important place.
Part of the challenge of leadership is to figure out what you can change and what you need to accept: in yourself, in others and in the way things are done around here. The Serenity Prayer is a prayer commonly used for Alcoholic’s Anonymous and I find it helpful in my daily life. I am not saying that if are a leader, you are an alcoholic. Probably, but not everyone. Or at least you will want to drink a lot of coffee, or air freshener.
God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change
Courage to change the things I can
And wisdom to know the difference.
God grant me…
Sometimes we need to talk to God. He listens. Sometimes we need to talk to ourselves. And we talk back. Begin any leadership effort by listening a lot. Don’t talk back to yourself, that’s disrespectful. And remember that it is okay to ask for a grant. Some money helps, a little wisdom may be nice to ask for. What is better is to ask for a good parking stall, a coffee shop nearby and a fridge that is not an eColi farm. Leadership is about asking the right questions.
Google says that Serenity is a movie about a boat trip gone bad, a funeral home, an Australian metal band, a music app, a type of travel van and a tanning studio. It does not make sense to me why anyone would ask for any of these things, but go ahead. Leadership is built on inner strength, acceptance and appreciation. Asking for strength, acceptance and appreciation will make you and I better leaders. Horrific vacations, Metal music and a good tan may make for good stories at lunch, but they don’t help much in being a leader. Sorry to burst your bubble. Truth time.
To accept the things I cannot change…
Some people want leaders to change the world. The world is a big place and full of water, weird insects, smelly jungles and hot sand. Changing all of that is hard work and out of most of our pay grades. Except for God. And he is in the granting business (see the first section), not the change-everything-at-once business. He did that in Genesis and he is using other methods now… less swimming, more personal. To accept means being humble enough to admit what you cannot change and not trying to change things too soon. Funny how the most important part of change begins by saying what you are not going to change. I cannot change my height, my accent, or the size of my brain. And I cannot change other people. So I focus on things I can change: the channel, my clothes and my mind. Just the important stuff.
Courage to change the things I can…
Google has a lot to say about Courage. Courage, according to Google, is a movie about marathon runners who are taken captive by right wing militia. Not a fun way to spend an afternoon. Google also says that courage is a hockey school for the blind, an old English brewery, and a type of window film. Courage is many things. I don’t think you can drink yourself into courage… that would get you to the Alcohol’s Anyonymus version of the Serenity Prayer. Courage is about pushing your physical and emotional limits, like when running a marathon. I also think that courage is about getting out of your comfort zone, like playing hockey when you cannot see. To me, that is a great (Canadian) definition of leadership: playing hockey when you cannot see anything. Also sounds like the post-Gretzky NHL Oilers.
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Buying a book on leadership costs $29.00. Knowing the difference between what I need to accept and what can change, that’s priceless. For everything else, there is Mastercard. At least, that’s what my TV says. It is hard to know what I can change, but I know that leadership begins when I have an honest look at myself, work slow and admit my mistakes. I am not saying that leadership is slow dancing in front of the bathroom mirror. That is just plain wrong. I think that leadership requires the courage to step away from what is comfortable, to be willing to change and to do some hard things. Honestly, it is easier to just buy books and drink coffee. That is what most people do, how about you?
Keep it real.