How many times have you heard that there’s this mystical, mythical, or magical key to unlock a hidden treasure? You know what I’m talking about: six steps to financial independence, three keys to obtaining influence, 1,084 things you must do to be a good parent. Right?! It can be a little annoying. I purposefully did that with the title of this episode: To Be A Great Leader You Must Have This.
Yet, no matter how annoying, disappointing, (or both!) most of that content has some valuable insight. An insight that if you take a moment to extract, and apply, has the potential to benefit you greatly in your future. There is very little content produced that will not benefit you at all.
What Is Your Expectation?
This is not the episode that will unleash your leadership potential if you will just send me $999. It’s not the episode that will catapult you to the top of your organization – although, for $2,995 I can provide that. 😉 This episode will not give you a pattern that you can replicate and therefore obtain your heart’s deepest desire.
Every Great Leader Wants To Improve
Instead, I promise that you will hear a tip, find a point, discover a lesson that you can implement to improve your leadership skill. And maybe it’s a letdown. Every great leader has a natural desire to improve. And if that’s your mindset, I can deliver with this content.
It’s kind of funny when things happen unintentionally. Today’s episode is kind of like that. I don’t mean that there was not a plan for the episode, but rather an unintentional connection to a previous episode.
Back in Episode 44: Four Perspectives On Service, I shared some thoughts on serving. It just so happened that this was emphasized by commencement speaker, Dr. Rick Rigsby, at Marrisa’s graduation. Marissa is our daughter-in-law. And I guess in keeping with the tradition – it is commencement season you know – I want to share some thoughts from Rachel’s commencement. Rachel is our other, and first, daughter-in-law.
You Can Learn From Just About Anything
She recently graduated from Northwest University with her Master’s degree in Obviously, we are all very proud of her. Just like we are all proud of any achievement obtained by our loved ones. I personally feel like there is always an opportunity to learn regardless of the environment in which I find myself.
This commencement exercise was no exception. What’s funny is that several others who attended the exact same commencement exercise heard the exact same speakers and yet, walked away with entirely different perspectives. Some of the emotions were shared and consistent, others were quite different.
No One To Blame But Yourself
It reminds me again that each moment is what you make of it. You own the right to determine whether you will or can benefit. Because it’s up to you, there isn’t anyone to blame if you learn nothing. So the most controversial was the student address that was given by one of the graduating undergrad students.
She shared a couple of things that shook me. I love that. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that you have just received a challenge to your perspective. The example she used was from Shakespeare’s play, The Merry Wives of Windsor. Maybe you’re familiar with it? I’m not going to go through the entire storyline as that would take too long here.
Affection Or Deception?
I’ll just say that there is a character, Falstaff, who intends to increase his financial position by obtaining the affections of one or both of two wealthy and married mistresses. In this process, another character, Pistol, is having a conversation with Falstaff in which he asks for a loan from Falstaff.
Falstaff: I will not lend thee a penny.
Pistol: Why, then, the world’s mine oyster, Which I with sword will open.
And this became the premise for the young woman’s address to her peers, and to us, the proud educators, parents, family, and friends of all those graduating. I’m not sure what you think when you here “the world is my oyster.” If I introspect, then I initially would say that I view it as my opportunity. My ability to make the most of any situation.
The World Is My Oyster
It means that I will have to work for what I get. That effort will be necessary if I am to gain success. I’ve not seen any oysters that open by themselves. It takes an object (a tool) to open the oyster. And this is where the analogy admittedly begins to fall apart.
If you think about using skills or talents to open oysters, then you understand that they can feed you (ignoring for a moment that eating an oyster might be the most disgusting thought you could imagine).
If you don’t work, you don’t eat. You will have to use your tools to derive gain. So far so good. This part of the analogy works…it’s the next part that produces a failing.
So the story goes that if you open a high number of oysters, then you might be fortunate enough to find a pearl once in a while! The problem is that the oysters that contain pearls are generally inedible. So…do what you want with the analogy.
Gain Through Exploitation
Not every oyster has a pearl. You can think of encountering the pearl as an astounding success. Falstaff and Pistol were looking for a shortcut, or at least a formula, to obtain their financial independence. And here’s the part that Abby shared while addressing her peers that made me sit up and take notice: “the world is your oyster” in the eyes of Falstaff and Pistol was gain through exploitation.
Ouch. It leads to several powerful questions:
- What motivates my behavior?
- Why am I bent to achieve a particular outcome?
- Are my intentions noble or dishonest?
- Would I be willing to exploit another for my personal gain?
- Have I dedicated myself to conquest? If so, for what purpose?
Naturally, there are many other good questions besides these. It did make me wonder where in my life were my motives less than honorable or pure? What lengths would I be willing to go to in order to secure these outcomes?
Richest Treasures Gained Through Wonder
In continuing her thought, Abby wonders aloud if the richest treasures are obtained instead through wonder. I mentioned how I experienced this several weeks ago when I used it to introduce Episode 113. On a morning run, I was taken aback by the beauty and depth of a blue, cloudless sky.
There was nothing new about it. I was just noticing it again. Maybe it’s a blade of grass, a piece of fruit, a tree, a star, or a hummingbird that arouses wonder and amazement. The wonder is what moves me to learn. I suppose you could argue that exploitation is an equal motivator, but I hope you see the value in shifting to wonder instead.
Viciously Guarding What You’ve Gained
So I’ll end with this thought. When your treasure is the result of exploitation, it likely results from a scarcity mindset. In other words, there are finite resources and you have to take someone else’s in order to secure your own. I suspect you will find that treasure obtained through exploitation is viciously guarded.
If we are busy viciously guarding all that we have gained, is there room for sharing with another? What if that sharing could cause them to overtake you? Are you willing to share your time and resources to the advancement of others in the cause of furthering wonder?
As a leader, you owe it to yourself to consider whether the trait a great leader can’t afford to be without isn’t the desire the learn, but the willingness to give of himself or herself for the advancement of others.
If that’s accurate, then the most logical question that follows would be what are you willing to give yourself away for? My suspicion is that in this answer is a load of life fulfillment, wonder, and joy.
Resources Mentioned In This Episode:
The Leader To Leader Podcast Episode 44: Four Perspectives On Service
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