We live in an age when trends in leadership and business fly by nearly every five minutes. It can make us believe we aren’t cutting edge unless we take in every new book or course that the gurus throw our way. It isn’t true. I want to help you fight back and stand on your own.
I certainly understand the temptation. New plans, new approaches, new visions sizzle the business magazine headlines. New styles of leadership call to us from the blogs and articles of leadership experts. We are made to feel we have to add all of it to our already busy lives, and that we will somehow lag behind as leaders if we don’t make every new theory part of what we do.
Many leaders don’t know whether to Jump the Shark or Lean In or try not to Give a F**k or focus on Influence or Think and Grow Rich or find the One Thing or Shrug with Atlas or Start With Why.
Now, there can be wisdom in all of these approaches and a thousand more. Yet you will only make yourself a mile wide and an inch deep if you perpetually chase after the trendy and the new.
The truth is that most leaders build their lives of leadership on a few simple ideas and some principles that they unearth themselves. They realize that every leader is unique, that leadership is not a one-size-fits-all thing, and that we each must find what works for us and then execute well.
The role of new ideas is to shine a light on what we are already doing. They are not a summons to abandon what we have done before and give ourselves to something completely new.
I’m a big guy. I like to dress nicely. Not long ago, I thought I’d take note of how a stylish big man dressed for success in the world. I started paying attention to how Shaquille O’Neal dresses. I quickly realized that I would look stupid dressing as he does. Also, I don’t have a private tailor and a $15,000 budget per suit. So, I took note of some features of his style and let them help me with the style I already have. I was open to learning, but I trusted the style I had developed over time. It worked for me, as did a few tips from the Shaq.
This is how we ought to be when it comes to new theories about leadership and business. Know yourself. Know what works for you. Be open to new ideas. Let those new ideas show you how to do what you already do in the best way. Yet do not ever be willing to abandon what you’ve been doing in hopes of finding a new and improved you. It doesn’t work that way, and you will exhaust yourself in the search only to become a bad copy of someone else.
Here’s what I want you to do. Ask yourself this: What are the maxims that have guided me to this point? What philosophies have allowed me to rise? Am I living them well? Have I tested them?
Then if they work for you, keep them while allowing new ideas to bring fresh perspective and needed nips and tucks on your leadership style. Yet have confidence in yourself, your history, and your past success. Be willing to grow while remaining who you are. This is what great leaders do.