[February 6, 2020] Leaders make mistakes all the time. We all make mistakes, but some mistakes can be avoided if we are to be good leaders. My good friend Wilson used to throw rocks at cars (when we were kids). He quickly learned that rock throwing was a mistake when, one day, a young man got out of his car and chased us around the neighborhood. We thought he was going to kill us. Fear is a great motivator.
Here are a few mistakes that leaders should avoid:
- Trying to change people. You really can’t change people, but you can change yourself. If you want to lead other people, you need to show others that you can successfully drive yourself through self-motivation and inspiration. You can also prove through personal example that following your strategies is an admirable thing that leads to desirable results. Take control over yourself, organize your local landscape, stop saying things you know to be lies, address your health, volunteer to help people, and move forward in life.
- Not telling the truth. If you can tell the truth as carefully as you can, then, whatever happens is the best that could have possibly happened in that situation no matter how it looks. Many famous stories drive the idea home. The story of Aladdin illustrates this well. Aladdin does not want to tell the princess he is only a poor “street rat” and thus not worthy. Later he is forced to fess up but only when his lie begins to destroy, not support, their relationship.
- Refusing to acknowledge your shadow. We all have a dark side; that part of us that is malevolent and wicked. It’s the devil on your shoulder that wants to hurt others, rage, and lie. If you don’t admit it, it will run you without realizing it. Only by accepting your vain desires can you overcome them. The solution is to integrate your shadow; it will make you stronger. The shadow must be acknowledged; your fears, your guilt, and sometimes your joy.
“By a lie, a man … annihilates his dignity as a man.” – Immanuel Kant, Prussian-German philosopher
The message cannot be more clear. First, fix yourself first before you attempt to fix the world. Second, tell the truth. And third, integrate your shadow. These actions form a strong foundation. The more you practice these points, the more you become an honest, integrated individual, and by doing so, you are precisely what the world needs you to be. And it means living the consequences of telling and acting the truth.