Beliefs I had to Change to Lead

Do you sometimes feel stuck in life? I do, and I found that most of the time, it’s because I am holding on to wrong beliefs.

I have 2 kids, and believe it or not, I once was a kid too. I asked my son how old he thought I was the other day and he said 20. I thought that was pretty good, till I asked him how old he thought Grandma and Papa were. He said 22. Kids believe the most unbelievable things, don’t they? When I was a kid there was a song by an R&B group called “Push It”. Great song. But when I was a kid and first exposed to this song, I believed they said, “Ah Smush it”. My brother, to this day, won’t let me live that down.

I believed a lot of things as a kid. Lots of things that were wrong, like that Santa Clause really came to my house. Oh sorry if some of you didn’t know that. I went to great lengths to prove that Santa wasn’t real. I knew something fishy was going on, but I had to find out for myself. It had been 10 years already. Though I didn’t know who might be standing in as the man in the big red suit, I thought the best candidate would be someone we knew. One Christmas Eve, when all of the likely suspects were gathered at my house for dinner, I had everyone sign, in their own hand-writing “Santa Clause”. Then I folded the paper up, put it in the tree, and attached a string to the end with a sign that said, “Pull Here”. There were instructions for “Santa” to also sign their name. Then it was just a matter of compare the handwriting and BINGO! Yeah, Santa printed, that sneaky guy. Results were inconclusive, to say the least.

I also believed that I could eat anything and not gain a single pound. Then I turned 25. I will just leave it at that.

I was at the playground the other day with my kids, and a little girl had climbed to the highest place on the playground and yelled, “I am the king of the world”. I believed, just like she did, that being at the top means you are the king. As kids, we played “king of the hill” where the object was to get everyone else off the top of the hill. I carried over this belief to my adult life.

When I was young I made the classic textbook schoolboy error of assuming that because I had the position, was the king of the hill, I was a leader. But the position didn’t make me a leader, actually the position made some people hate me because they thought they should have the position. Now I worked hard, but they never really accepted me as a leader. I didn’t have any real influence with them until I changed the context of my leadership.

Do you want to be a great leader? Like me, you might need to change. I shifted focus from me to them. I said, “how are you?” “What can I do for you?” “What problems are you facing? And how can I help?” I thought it was all about me and how much I knew. I thought if I can impress them with what I know, surely they’ll listen to my ideas then. But you know what? More often than not that just pushes people away.

It took me too long to realize that people aren’t really that interested in what you know. “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” as John Maxwell put it. The one belief I needed to change to get unstuck in life was that leadership isn’t about what people can do for me, but about what I can do for others. If you believe leadership is about others doing stuff for you, I would challenge you to shift your thinking and make it about others.

“Help enough people get what they want, and you will get what you want” Zig Ziggler


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