"Most people think success is instantaneous. They look at it as a moment, an event, or a place in time. It’s not. Success is really a process."
The ability to motivate others into action is a huge factor in leadership. All the great leaders have it – it’s the rousing speeches we remember; whether it was Martin Luther King Jr.’s “mission for equality”, JFK’s “man on the moon” or Churchill’s unrelenting attitude in WWII – there are speeches that took peoples’ “impossible” and gave them a breath of hope. Great leaders have the ability to take seemingly insurmountable tasks, make them seem probable and in doing so create action amongst their followers. What is it these people (and other leaders of their ilk) have that draws us to them? Why do we feel so inspired and inclined to take action for that leader’s cause?
Charisma plays a role, obviously. Charisma without passion is sleazy, though. While charisma’s important, if followers don’t believe in the conviction of their leader, then that person won’t be in a leadership position for long.
I want you to follow this logic with me:
- Growth inherently requires change.
- Change is new (again, by definition).
- Newness creates uncertainty in people, and they look to someone on whom to model their thoughts, actions and behaviours.
- The best person upon which to model their thoughts, actions and behaviours is someone who is already being and doing that which they want to be and do.
So let’s move from the follower mindset to leader mindset. Let’s assume you want to inspire, motivate and lead people in a cause you care about. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said it best:
“We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.”
As quoted in Developing the Leader Within You, page 132
"Motivation is not going to strike you like lightning. And motivation is not something that someone else – nurse, doctor, family member – can bestow or force on you. The whole idea of motivation is a trap. Forget motivation. Just do it. Exercise, lose weight, test your blood sugar, or whatever."
Strong leaders understand this: if you want to create change in this world, change that benefits you and/or those you care about, you don’t wait for motivation – you create it. Too many people spend their days waiting and hoping for motivation to fill them with a fervour that allows them to commit to their cause. Motivation doesn’t do that. Motivation doesn’t come from the outside. Sure, inspiration can come from a motivational speech. No doubt you have heard a fantastic speaker at some point, left the room feeling like you were going to change the world, then a week later was back to life as usual. Motivation doesn’t come from someone’s words, no matter how impactful. Motivation does, however, share this fascinating and reciprocal relationship with “Action”.
"‘Motivation,’ says John Bruner, ‘is like love and happiness. It’s a by-product. When you’re actively engaged in doing something, the motivation to keep on doing it sneaks up and zaps you when you least expect it.’"
The reason JFK was able to rally the United States of America to the idea of landing on the moon by the end of the 1969 was because he was willing to act. He dedicated all the resources he could muster, kept the public abreast of progress and showed a genuine and personal interest in the mission’s success. Motivation – both your own internal motivation and the motivation of those around you – comes from action. Only through your actions can you expect to build “motivation momentum”.
What action could you take today in regards to a goal you have? (I.e. Losing weight, quit smoking, increase sales by X%, build an orphanage, etc.) It doesn’t matter the size or scope of the goal – the first step to rallying people to the cause is taking action. People respect it, and you’ll motivate yourself by knowing you’re one step closer (no matter how small the step) to accomplishing your goal.
"True leaders are always in the minority because they are thinking ahead of the majority."
I believe one major reason why people hesitate in stepping into the leadership role on a cause they care about is because they feel alienated in doing so. They start to doubt themselves. They think, “Well, people don’t support this idea yet, so maybe it’s not a good idea”. The fact is that every new idea starts with the minority. There is nothing in this world that everyone thought of at the same time, and then simultaneously dedicated all their efforts to realizing. For every idea that seems to have “sprung into the world” fully formed and fully supported, there is a small group of dedicated individuals who have been toiling for years. If you want to lead change, you should know up front that you will get strange looks, skeptics and those who shake their heads because they can’t see your vision. However – here’s the good news – tthere are others like you. There are other leaders out there who are also living on the fringes with their ideas. And every successful leader has gone through exactly the same thing. In fact, the more radical the change, the more isolated they felt and the longer they felt that way. Take confidence in your idea – share it with a small group of like-minded thinkers and pursue it with everything you’ve got.
Developing the Leader Within You is a book about honing your own leadership skills. It’s written under the firm conviction that “if you build it (i.e. develop yourself into a leader), they will come.”
“Follower finds the leader and then the vision. Leaders find the vision and then the people.”
Developing the Leader Within You, page 145
Find your vision. Have the conviction and the confidence to start – today. Take the first step towards improvement. “Be the change you want to see in the world,” as Gandhi said. Take the first step, stick to the cause and watch as people flock to your mission. We need more leaders – what’s stopping you?