One of the most popular Dilbert comic strips in the cartoon’s history begins with Dilbert’s boss relaying senior leadership’s explanation for the company’s low profits. In response to his boss, Dilbert asks incredulously, “So they’re saying that profits went up because of great leadership and down because of a weak economy?” To which Dilbert’s boss replies, “These meetings will go faster if you stop putting things in context.”
Great leadership is indeed a difficult thing to pin down and understand. You know a great leader when you’re working for one, but even they can have a hard time explaining the specifics of what they do that makes their leadership so effective. Great leadership is dynamic; it melds a variety of unique skills into an integrated whole.
Below are 12 essential behaviors that exceptional leaders rely on every day. Give them a try and you can become a better leader today.
“Courage is the first virtue that makes all other virtues possible.” —Aristotle
People will wait to see if a leader is courageous before they’re willing to follow his or her lead. People need courage in their leaders. They need someone who can make difficult decisions and watch over the good of the group. They need a leader who will stay the course when things get tough. People are far more likely to show courage themselves when their leaders do the same.
For the courageous leader adversity is a welcome test. Like a blacksmith’s molding of a red-hot iron, adversity is a trial by fire that refines leaders and sharpens their game. Adversity emboldens courageous leaders and leaves them more committed to their strategic direction. Leaders who lack courage simply toe the company line. They follow the safest path—the path of least resistance—because they’d rather cover their backside than lead.
2. Effective Communication
“The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.” —Joseph Priestley
Communication is the real work of leadership. It’s a fundamental element of how leaders accomplish their goals each and every day. You simply can’t become a great leader until you are a great communicator. Great communicators inspire people. They create a connection with their followers that is real, emotional, and personal, regardless of any physical distance between them. Great communicators forge this connection through an understanding of people and an ability to speak directly to their needs.
“A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit.” —John Maxwell
Great leaders are generous. They share credit and offer enthusiastic praise. They’re as committed to their followers’ success as they are to their own. They want to inspire all of their employees to achieve their personal best—not just because it will make the team more successful, but because they care about each person as an individual.
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” —C.S. Lewis
Great leaders are humble. They don’t allow their position of authority to make them feel that they are better than anyone else. As such, they don’t hesitate to jump in and do the dirty work when needed, and they won’t ask their followers to do anything they wouldn’t be willing to do themselves.
“It is absurd that a man should rule others, who cannot rule himself.” —Latin Proverb
Contrary to what Dilbert might have us believe, leaders’ gaps in self-awareness are rarely due to deceitful, Machiavellian motives, or severe character deficits. In most cases, leaders—like everyone else—view themselves in a more favorable light than other people do.
Self-awareness is the foundation of emotional intelligence, a skill that 90% of top performing leaders possess in abundance. Great leaders’ high self-awareness means they have a clear and accurate image not just of their leadership style, but also of their own strengths and weaknesses. They know where they shine and where they’re weak, and they have effective strategies for leaning into their strengths and compensating for their weaknesses.
6. Adherence to the Golden Rule +1
“The way you see people is the way you treat them, and the way you treat them is what they become.” —Jon Wolfgang von Goethe
The Golden Rule—treat others as you want to be treated—assumes that all people are the same. It assumes that, if you treat your followers the way you would want a leader to treat you, they’ll be happy. It ignores that people are motivated by vastly different things. One person loves public recognition, while another loathes being the center of attention.
Great leaders don’t treat people how they themselves want to be treated. Instead, they take the Golden Rule a step further and treat each person as he or she would like to be treated. Great leaders learn what makes people tick, recognize their needs in the moment, and adapt their leadership style accordingly.
“If you just work on stuff that you like and are passionate about, you don’t have to have a master plan with how things will play out.” —Mark Zuckerberg
Passion and enthusiasm are contagious. So are boredom and apathy. No one wants to work for a boss that’s unexcited about his or her job, or even one who’s just going through the motions. Great leaders are passionate about what they do, and they strive to share that passion with everyone around them.
“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.” —Reverend Theodore Hesburgh
Great leaders know that having a clear vision isn’t enough. You have to make that vision come alive so that your followers can see it just as clearly as you do. Great leaders do that by telling stories and painting verbal pictures so that everyone can understand not just where they’re going, but what it will look and feel like when they get there. This inspires others to internalize the vision and make it their own.
“Just be who you are and speak from your guts and heart--it’s all a man has.” —Hubert Humphrey
Authenticity refers to being honest in all things -- not just what you say and do, but who you are. When you’re authentic, your words and actions align with who you claim to be. Your followers shouldn’t be compelled to spend time trying to figure out if you have ulterior motives. Any time they spend doing so erodes their confidence in you and in their ability to execute.
Leaders who are authentic are transparent and forthcoming. They aren’t perfect, but they earn people’s respect by walking their talk.
“Management is like holding a dove in your hand. Squeeze too hard and you kill it, not hard enough and it flies away.” —Tommy Lasorda
Great leaders make it clear that they welcome challenges, criticism, and viewpoints other than their own. They know that an environment where people are afraid to speak up, offer insight, and ask good questions is destined for failure. By ensuring that they are approachable, great leaders facilitate the flow of great ideas throughout the organization.
“The ancient Romans had a tradition: Whenever one of their engineers constructed an arch, as the capstone was hoisted into place, the engineer assumed accountability for his work in the most profound way possible: He stood under the arch.” —Michael Armstrong
Great leaders have their followers’ backs. They don’t try to shift blame, and they don’t avoid shame when they fail. They’re never afraid to say, “The buck stops here,” and they earn people’s trust by backing them up.
12. Sense Of Purpose
“You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case.” —Ken Kesey
Whereas vision is a clear idea of where you’re going, a sense of purpose refers to an understanding of whyyou’re going there. People like to feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves. Great leaders give people that feeling.
Bringing It All Together
Becoming a great leader doesn’t mean that you have to incorporate all of these traits at once. Focus on one or two at a time; each incremental improvement will make you more effective. It’s okay if you “act“ some of these qualities at first. The more you practice, the more instinctive it will become, and the more you’ll internalize your new leadership style.
Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired people around the world with a message of peaceful resistance and racial equality. Dr. King was a normal person, just like all of us but his inspiration was magnetic. His famous speech, “I HAVE A DREAM,” which he gave in front of the Lincoln Memorial, on August 28, 1963, helped to inspire the world to think differently about people, no matter the color or ethnicity.
He inspired people by his non-violence approach to his protest, and he inspired people to dream of a world where "little white boys and little white girls will be able to hold hands with little black boys and black girls as sisters and brothers." His words gave everyone hope that one day they would all be free from the nightmare of racial inequality.
Nelson Mandela was a great pioneer who helped bring an end to apartheid in South Africa. Although he was imprisoned for 27 years due to his anti-apartheid actions, he was released and later became his country’s first black president in 1994. Mandela inspired the world with his advocacy for peace, racial unity, social justice, and forgiveness. He was a champion of the people and spent 95 years building his legacy until his death in 2013.
There are many great leaders like, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Mohammed Ali etc. who used their most lethal weapon, inspiration, to ignite a spark within their followers that move them to action from all over the world. According to Marissa Levin, when we are inspired, we aren't thinking about the final end state. In fact, when we are filled with inspiration, we want to hold onto that feeling for as long as possible. This is why the most effective leaders are the most inspired leaders - and the most inspirational.
Richard Branson identifies the ability to inspire as the single most critical leadership skill. The ability to infuse energy, passion, commitment, and connection to an organization's mission and direction is essential in any growing company. When we are filled with inspiration, we often don't need external motivation to move forward. The feeling of purpose and meaning is enough to propel us.
When we are void of inspiration, we must seek out ways to keep ourselves moving forward towards a clearly defined end state. Those without a clear vision, mission, or purpose often require lots of external motivation to keep moving forward. Those that operate and live from a place of purpose are inspired every day to give 100%. They may get tired, but they can reach back to their higher purpose to be inspired.
According to Marissa, Harvard Business School gathered data from assessments of more than 50,000 leaders, and the ability to inspire stood out as one of the most critical competencies. It is the trait that creates the highest levels of engagement, it is what separates the best leaders from everyone else, and it is what employees want most in their leaders.
I believe that true leaders are inspirational according to Frederika Roberts, they exert a positive influence over their colleagues, and they are essential to business success. As Greg Savage points out in his article “People don’t leave Companies, they leave Leaders’ when employees leave it’s not “the company” they blame. It’s not the location, or the team, or the database or the air-conditioning. It’s the leadership!
Inspiration and leadership are inseparable, if you don’t inspire your teams to achieve greatness, if you cannot inspire a group of people to follow your vision, if you cannot inspire people by your words and your actions; you’re not a leader. You’re a manager, at best.
During one of Simon Sinek trips with the Marines Corps, he recalls a particularly harrowing situation in Afghanistan. A pilot provided cover for troops under fire, exposing himself to life-threatening enemy fire from both sides of a valley in Afghanistan. According to Sinek, there was so much that the tracer fire—the streaks of light that follow the bullets—lit up the whole area. Shells and rockets all aimed at the middle, all aimed squarely at the Special Operations Forces pinned down below.
The pilot without hesitation, together with his wing-man, provided the cover needed for the Special Forces to come out of that battle with no casualties. Trapped in a dangerous spot, the pilot shows the true meaning of leadership and service. He acted bravely, giving to others without expectation of anything in return. When asked the question, why would anyone do such a thing? The pilot answered, “because they would’ve done it for me.
This is what it means to work in a place in which the leaders create a circle of safety for their team and, in return, their people giving everything they’ve got to protect and advance the well-being of one another, their leader and their organization.
In Simon Sinek book, Leaders Eat Last, Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't; Simon illustrates his point by using the term the circle of safety to describe businesses that thrive because everyone inside the circle looks out for each other. The Circle of Safety wraps around the entire company, not just a limited number who have a title of authority attached to their name. There is trust inside the Circle, and you don’t need to spend your day looking over your shoulder with the fear of being betrayed or the fear that someone else is going to steal or profit from your idea.
Leaders that build their companies with a culture that promotes this type of trust know that their leader “got their back and vice versa. When there is a high level of trust in any environment, loyalty is extremely high and as a result, the environment build people confidence and the company becomes very influential and very profitable. This is why strong leaders, extend the Circle of Safety to include every single person who works for the organization while weak leaders allow the culture of a business to shift to individuals seeking personal praise or only looking out for their best interests.
When this happens, the company becomes divided, and the shield of strength is diminished. With clear standards for entry into the Circle and competent layers of leadership that are able to extend the Circle’s perimeter, the stronger and better equipped the organization becomes. Self-preservation is unnecessary, and fiefdoms are less able to survive. According to Sinek, it is easy to know when we are in the Circle of Safety because we can feel it. We feel valued by our colleagues, and we feel cared for by our superiors.
We become absolutely confident that the leaders of the organization and all those with whom we work are there for us and will do what they can to help us succeed. We become members of the group. We feel like we belong. When we believe that those inside our group, those inside the Circle, will look out for us, it creates an environment for the free exchange of information and effective communication. This is fundamental to driving innovation, preventing problems from escalating and making organizations better equipped to defend themselves from the outside dangers and to seize the opportunities.
Simon Sinek imagines a world where the vast majority of us wake up inspired, feel safe at work and return home fulfill at the end of the day; I also believe that the fundamental tenet of each and everyone on this planet is to find your gift and serve it to the world. There is no excuse for any organization to create an environment where their employees do not feel safe, any.
If you happen to be in that type of environment, you need to explore your options because it is not good for your health. There are many opportunities and don’t allow anyone to tell you otherwise. As a leader, your responsibility is to create an environment where your team feels safe, feel inspired and most of all feel fulfilled. When you are working in that type of environment you can pour everything into your work and your company will come out on top as a result.
As Sinek states in his book, a leader who takes care of their people and stays focus on the well-being of the organization can never fail.
Gandhi once stated, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
No truer words have been spoken, and nothing encapsulates the spirit of servant leadership more than these great words from Mahatma Gandhi. Exemplary leaders like Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. according to Eric Lau have all shown the impactful nature of servant leadership. Some have argued, how can one be a leader and a servant at the same time? Is it possible? The answer is a resounding yes!
In 2008, at the height of the global financial crisis, a St. Louis based company Barry-Wehmiller, lost 30% of their orders due to the effects of the recession. The CEO, Bob Chapman, got together with the board of director to discuss layoffs and what's the very first strategy many companies used to save money; job cuts.
But Bob Chaman refuse to let any of his workers go because every member of his team of over 2000 plus employees are considered family. In the end, the board devised a furlough program, through which every employee would be required to take four weeks of unpaid vacation. The creation of the program at least meant that everyone was safe, Morale went up, and the company saved $20 million.
Bob is the type of CEO who always puts his people before his numbers and feels a sense of responsibility in making sure everyone who works at his organization feels fulfilled and engaged in the work they do. How many CEO's out there do you know who can say that?
When you are called to lead, you are called to serve. You become the servant because leadership is all about being of service to others. A leader with a servant’s heart is a truly invaluable asset, they work tirelessly to develop his or her people and is focused on what they can do for others.
How can you develop a heart for servant leadership and how can you establish a culture of servant leadership at your company, follow these four simple steps.
Change your mindset
Robert Greenleaf, founder of the modern servant leadership movement, describes a servant leadership mindset, as one that begins with the desire to serve by meeting the needs of others. To embrace the spirit of servant leadership, you must first change your mindset and get in the habit of focusing on providing service to others. Great leaders are always seeking to improve and enhance something or someone. This very important, to become one of the greats of leadership you must develop a habit of service to others first.
Lead by example
Most leaders know that their actions can influence how a team feels and performs. However, when leaders don’t practice what they preach, you can almost see the loss of enthusiasm and goodwill among the staff. Once a leader's character is proven untrustworthy, their ability to lead will diminish. If you want a culture of servant leadership at your organization, as the leader you must walk the talk and lead by example.
Make the environment safe
You have to give your team a safe place to share their ideas and opinions without malice, judgment, victimization or condemnation. A servant leader must be able to listen to others and to be very receptive to what is being said. They may not always agree, but they are very responsive to someone position without undermining the person.
Build a culture of leadership throughout the entire company
A company with a leadership culture expects all employees, not just those with “VP” or “Chief” in their titles, but all their people, to think and act like leaders. What separates the good leaders from the great leaders is their ability to build a culture of leadership throughout their organization that cultivates great leaders.
Bringing all together, embracing a servant leader mindset at all levels of an organization can transform any organization's culture. A leader with a heart for servant leadership must lead by example and inspire his / her team to lose themselves in service to others, which will help their team achieve their higher calling and propel the company to become one of the best in the world.
There's hardly anything worse for a company's morale according to Bruna Martinuzzi than leaders who practice the "Do as I say, not as I do" philosophy. For example, the manager who tells everyone to stay late and finish the project but leaves promptly at 5:00 pm to go golfing.
Or the CEO who criticizes everyone for spending time on the internet but is discovered buying groceries online in the middle of the afternoon or the CFO who recommends layoffs to stop "unnecessary spending," but buys a brand-new luxury office furniture.
Most leaders know that their actions can influence how a team feels and performs. However, when leaders don’t practice what they preach, you can almost see the loss of enthusiasm and goodwill among the staff. It's like watching the air go out of a balloon – and cynicism and disappointment usually take its place.
If you're in a leadership position, then you know that you have a responsibility to your team to lead by example. No matter what the situation is, you have that responsibility; if there are double standards and the leader saying one thing and then doing another, it always feels like a betrayal. If this ever happened to you, you can probably remember that sense of disappointment and letdown.
So, why is it so important to lead by example?
The legendary Jack Welch according to Bruna Martinuzzi, turned GE upside down. By developing a "boundaryless organization, a place where everyone is free to brainstorm and think of ideas – instead of waiting for someone "higher up" in the bureaucracy to think of them first.
He wanted his team turned loose, and he promised to listen to ideas from anyone in the company. And he did. Everyone from the lowest line workers to senior managers got his attention – if they had something to say or a new idea that might make the company better. It wasn't just talking, and it didn't take his team long to figure that out.
Welch stayed true to his passions, his commitment and led by example. GE became an incredibly successful company under his leadership, and his team was always willing to follow his lead because the people within knew that he always kept his word. As a leader, part of your job is to inspire the people around you to push themselves – and, in turn, the company to greatness. To develop yourself into a great leader, you must set the tone and lead by example.
When leaders don't "practice what they preach," it can be almost impossible for a team to work together successfully. How can anyone trust a leader who talks about one thing, but does another? Leading by example is the most powerful form of leadership. Effective leaders model the way for others to follow.
Great leaders push their people forward with excitement, inspiration, trust, and vision. To become one of the great of leadership, it takes the strength of character and a firm commitment to do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason. This means doing what you say when you say it. Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position. If your team can't trust you and your character is questionable, you'll never lead your people and by extension your company to greatness.
“I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character”.
On 28 August in 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke these immortal words to a crowd of over 200,000 people who gathered for the now historic march on Washington to demand an end to racial segregation in the USA, and for equality in jobs and civil rights. Dr. King use of the word, character, points to an individual who can be judged on their distinctive qualities and unique attributes as opposed to someone outward appearance.
As a leader, your character affects your leadership, and you can make a judgment of a person ability to lead; not by their physical appearance but by the content of their character. According to the late great Dr. Myles Munroe, if you have a questionable character, you can never be an effective leader. In Monica Patrick article the Role of Leadership, Monica shows how character and leadership go hand in hand, and any doubts about a leader's character can have devastating effects on an organization ability to become great.
Let look at how a leader's character affects these 4 critical areas of leadership.
Matter of Trust
Leadership must be trusted to make the smartest decisions and do the right thing, especially under challenging conditions. Trust is achieved by demonstrating competence and through strong character. Hiring executives must believe they can trust the leader as well as the employees who follow. Once a leader's character is proven untrustworthy, their ability to lead will diminish. Keeping leaders who have poor character can diminish all morale and create a very toxic work environment.
Good character in leadership commands respect. Besides being trusted, these leaders have the respect of their teams and even the competition. A person with good character is courteous, never demeaning and is accepting of opposing viewpoints. As a result of their willingness to listen to other people views, this increases their influence in the organization. People with poor character aren't respected because they have shown that they will not make good choices or make decisions that are in the interest of the team.
Leadership with good character brings a spirit of excellence to a business. These leaders expect more than the status quo from themselves and the people they lead. This character attribute encourages team members to learn more and do more. With excellence comes responsibility. This leader takes responsibility for their actions, even when it means owning up to mistakes. They have a strong sense of accountability and expect the same from their team members.
People with good character genuinely care about the people they work with. They have a real concern for others and work tirelessly to ensure their team interest is placed at the forefront of any decision made in the organization.
"Your gift can never protect your character but your character will protect your gift." Dr. Myles Munroe
A person's character, good or bad, can inspire others to greatness or discourage them from trying. Authentic leaders lead from a strong, personal, moral value that can have a profound effect on your organization. As a leader, you need to understand how your character affects your organization rise to greatness and how it can be a significant detriment to its success.
“I don’t necessarily have to like my players and associates, but as their leader, I must love them. Love is loyalty; love is teamwork, love respects the dignity of the individual. This is the strength of any organization.” Vince Lombardi
Legendary hall of fame football coach Vince Lombardi is arguably one of the greatest coaches in the history of the NFL. Football historians and fans still talk about this legendary team, The Green Bay Packers as one of the greatest American football teams in history, winning three straight and five total NFL Championships in seven years, in addition to winning the first two Super Bowls at the conclusion of the 1966 and 1967 NFL seasons.
Lombardi was viewed as a hard-driving, tough football coach but one who loved his players dearly and was passionate about growing members of his team in a highly intimate and personal way. In Kevin Cashman article The Three L's of Leadership: Love, Listen and Leap, Kevin had the opportunity to coach many of Lombardi former players who transition into their business career, all of whom spoke about Lombardi in an entirely different light.
Many of his players said “I have never been so loved by someone outside my family. We all knew he would do anything for us…anything. We would go through walls for this man.” Lombardi earned the right to drive his talent to the limit because his intense drive was balanced by his equally fierce caring.
According to Lolly Daskal, the most critical factor that differentiates a good leader from a great leader is LOVE. Yes, you heard me. Love! The best leaders want to be liked. They want openness from others. They want to be understood, appreciated and communicated with. Leaders who do not care and are cold-hearted or cold-blooded are not very successful leaders. When you Lead With Love, success follows. The best chemistry that leaders can have with their followers are that they care and share.
Managers can drive businesses, but what separate the great companies from the good ones are leaders who care deeply for their team. According to Fernando Vilas, these leaders are capable of inspiring others to follow them, even in very adverse situations and are capable of transmitting a message to each person in their team, touching the most buried feeling inside of their people. They give purpose to the organization, explaining the personal reasons to achieve them as opposed to following an order from a manager.
They understand their employees’ needs, and they genuinely care about them. They give to their followers the importance that they deserve by soliciting feedback and engaging their people in topics of a personal nature as well. They enter into real valuable dialogues that build a healthy relationship between leader and follower.
One of the best places to begin in leading with love is to exhibit much patience and kindness toward other people (without forgoing accountability and expectations), to always hope for and to see the best in others even in the most challenging of situations, and to seek the highest good in all that is done.
All of this is easier said than done according to Adam Meyer; It is scary to think about intentionally putting your wants and needs behind the wants and needs of others. But loving others and living for others is tremendously more rewarding since you cannot call yourself a leader if you do not genuinely care about every member of your team and you cannot lead effectively if you do not love the people you are leading.
Two incidents took place this week that disturbed me tremendously, and from the look of it, they are not one-off incidents. In the first instance, I was standing in line waiting to cash some stuff I picked up at the supermarket. One of the supervisors stopped one of the guys on the floor and said to him, in full view of everyone in the waiting area. “How could you forget the stuff I ask you for, you don’t use your brain” now I felt pretty awful for the guy because the tone the lady use was disgusting and anyone looking on could see the embarrassed look on his face.
The following day I stopped to buy a box of chicken and chips for my babysitter, and while waiting, I notice the young lady at the counter; I have this habit of observing my surroundings especially when it comes to watching people and their interaction with other people.
The young lady at the counter said to the manager, “excuse me I need to go for lunch I have been waiting for a long time,” the manager shouted.“well go”; shouted! I was utterly shocked, and I ask myself how in heaven's name can someone with that type of attitude become responsible for people.
It was very disturbing, especially for someone who believes in employees well being, inspiration, motivation, emotional intelligence, etc. One can deduce that these people are not being mentored to lead and are not given the necessary training to lead and have absolutely no people skills.
But do you know what is even more disturbing, many people believe this type of behavior is typical. Typical for their manager to verbally abuse them, normal to work in an environment of distrust and deceit or to engage in gossip or to look for self-preservation at the expenses of everything and everyone.
This is not normal.
Many of these managers expect and in many instances demand respect from their direct reports like if it is some form of entitlement. Great leaders don’t demand respect; they don’t have too, people will naturally follow them because of their leadership skills and their ability to inspire and motivate people.
If a manager has no respect for their team, how can you expect any respect in return? They will follow their instructions because of their position on the org chart, but they will not support them voluntarily and all trust will be lost. When all trust is broken down, a company can never function at an optimum level, the company will experience a high level of employee turnover, and that company will be average at best.
All Companies should invest in the development of their people. Leadership training should be mandatory for everyone, not the executive or middle management or the people favored by management; everyone! When faced with insurmountable challenges, many of us would throw in the towel, feel rejected and defeated.
This is where leaders rise above the pack, find some way to keep going and inspire their team to believe that the impossible is possible. This is fundamentally why great leaders don’t demand respect, they lead by example and earn their respect each and every day.
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John is the kind of guy you love to hate, always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone asked him "John, how are you", his response normally will be, 'If I were any better, I would be twins!'
John was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, John was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation. Seeing his style of leadership really made me curious, so one day I went up and asked him,
'I don't get it!' 'You can't be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?'
His replied, 'Each morning when I wake up, I say to myself, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood. I choose to be in a good mood.' Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life.
'Yeah, right, it's not that easy,' I protested.
'Yes, it is,' he said. 'Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or a bad mood. The bottom line; it's your choice how you live your life.'
I reflected on what he said. Soon thereafter, I left the Tower Industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.
Several years later, I heard that he was involved in a serious accident, falling some 60 feet from a communications tower. After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, John was released from the hospital with rods placed in his back. I saw him about six months after the accident.
When I asked him, John how are you, he replied, 'If I were any better, I'd be twins, do you want to see my scars?' I declined to see his wounds, but I did ask him what had gone through his mind as the accident took place.
'The first thing that went through my mind was the well-being of my soon-to-be-born daughter,' he replied. 'Then, as I lay on the ground, I remembered that I had two choices: I can choose to live or I could choose to die. I chose to live.'
'Weren't you scared? Did you lose consciousness?' I asked. He continued, '...the paramedics were great.
They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the ER and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read 'he's a dead man'. I knew I needed to take action.'
'What did you do?' I asked.
'Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me,' said John. 'She asked if I was allergic to anything 'Yes, I replied.' The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, 'Gravity''
Over their laughter, I told them, 'I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.' He lived, thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude, I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully.
Attitude, after all, is everything.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.'
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