Have you ever known anyone to ask for tips on how to fail?
Sounds silly, doesn’t it? But there’s a reason no self-help gurus are making millions on handing out their secrets of failure. That’d be an oxymoron.
Certainly no one has written a book on the secrets to failure as far as I’m aware. Who would want to read it?
I guess you could Google “secrets of failure” and see what search results you get, but what would be the point?
It seems most of us already know how to fail. We’re already pretty good at it, so we don’t need any advice on how to take failure to the next level. It would take someone with a confused sense of self-esteem to want to fail even more than he already was, or even more efficiently than what he was already doing.
For most of us, failure is par for the course. It’s almost a natural human tendency. It’s success that isn’t normal.
In fact, it’s estimated that for every 20 babies that are born in the Western world, only 1 of them will be deemed ‘successful’ at the age of 65 years. That’s a mere 5% of the population.
That means the absolute majority of those babies, a staggering 19 out of 20, will grow up, get an education, maybe get a job, get married, start a family, and retire 65 years later without having made a so-called ‘success’ of their life.
From the statistics, you could say that life has a 95% failure rate.
Which is why we tend to seek out those who are successful and ask them what their secret to success is. We want to know what they did so we can replicate it and become part of The 5% Club who are successful.
But what does success looks like? If success walked through your front door and said hello, would you recognise it?
It’s worth a moment to consider, because I can bet a few lazy dollars on the assumption that what success looks like to me isn’t what success looks like to you. Not that either of us is more right than the other, just that our definitions of success are different.
Yet, despite this, there would be some similarities in what you and I define as ‘success’.
So if I were to ask you to list the top 5 most successful people you know or have heard of, who would they be? What are their most striking features?
I’m guessing they would have, in varying degrees, so-called ‘status of success’:
- Money—they’d be rich and have financial freedom at the very minimum.
- Fame—they’d be famous and, if not celebrity or sporting household names, they’d be easily identified in the streets, on the news, on social media, or in the print media.
- Power—they’d hold positions of power in government, financial institutions, corporations, religious and even sports organisations.
These are the symbols that most of society would deem as being successful or having ‘made it’.
But what of character? The accomplishment of great character is far more difficult than making money—anyone can make money over a lifetime—so is a person of upstanding integrity, generosity, kindness, persistence, self-sacrifice, patience, and resilience not also successful?
Consider again the top 5 successful people you identified and whether or not they are also persons of character.
Now consider whether you know others who don’t have as much money, fame, or power, and are probably not seen as ‘successful’ by society’s standards but are nonetheless persons of character. They may be poor, relatively unknown and even invisible to the rest of society, and they probably don’t wield power of any measurable sort, but they are persons of value.
When discussing the virtues of success, it was Einstein who put it this way:
“Try not to be a man of success, but rather try to be a man of value.”
Einstein knew that being a person of value is how you get membership to The 5% Club.
Your value to others is the key that gets you through the door of success.
What may surprise you is that you are already a person on value. We talked about this in Knowing Your Value (Self-Worth), so please read it again if you need to refresh your memory.
You are therefore already halfway to being the successful person you want to be. You just need to activate your value by cashing in your own cheque, so to speak.
All you need to do, then, to be a person of success, is to think and be of value to others.
So if success is what you want, you already have what you’re looking for. All you need to do is tap into your own inner value and self-worth.
SCOPE: Other People Thinking—Give. Serve. Add Value.
In my article, Why Success in Anything You Do Depends on Your SCOPE (and Your Failure Too), I introduced the concept of broadening your SCOPE to develop the success habit of completion. Namely, the habits of:
O: Other People Thinking
P: Planning, Preparation and Perseverance
E: Energy, Effort and Enthusiasm
In S: Self-assuredness and Self-belief we discussed the first step to broaden your SCOPE, and thus transform your failures into success, is to build your faith muscle—your self-assuredness—which you do by:
- Clarifying Your Vision—your “I am”
- Amplifying Your Success Attitude—your “I will”
- Building Your Self-Belief—your “I can”
In C: Courage and Confidence we discussed the second step to broaden your SCOPE, which is to build your belief in your abilities, your outcomes, and your efforts—your confidence—which you do by:
- Identifying Your Worthy Cause—your ‘I am’
- Maintaining and Sustaining Your Persistence—your ‘I will’
- Knowing Your Value (Self-Worth)—your ‘I can’
We will discuss the third step in just a moment. By now, you are getting the picture of how to broaden your SCOPE and become successful, which you do by using the mantra-like attitudes of “I am! I will! I can!”.
When you use these attitudes—”I am! I will! I can!”—and repeat them in the laboratory of your mind until they are embedded into the DNA of your thoughts, emotions, and behaviours, the bigger and broader your SCOPE becomes. They become you, and you become them.
You become a success first in your mind and inner world (which are the “intangible rewards” of success, like joy, peace, freedom, harmony), and then soon after follows the material and outer world success ( the “tangible rewards” of money, relationships, career, possessions, and so forth).
That’s how the Game of Life works:
First, be a success inside, then success outside will follow.
Only by changing your inner world will your outer world change. It has to be this way. The Law of Cause and Effect means it can’t be any other way.
I remember vividly as a junior doctor in London, UK, when this law played out in my own circumstances to great effect.
I was late for the morning ward round yet again. I had slept in, resenting to have to get up early and commute for over an hour to get to the hospital by 8 am. Frustrated and annoyed, clutching my stethoscope to my chest as I ran down the long corridor to the paediatric ward, I said to myself, “God, I hate this job. Why does the job have to be like this? Why can’t it change?”
Then a voice inside my head made me stop in my tracks. I literally stopped mid-stride in the middle of the corridor, struck dumb with sudden awareness. The voice had said, “Scott, the job isn’t going to change. It’s always going to be the same job. Only you can change.”
I had suddenly realised that it was my own attitude that was causing all my frustration and irritation. I had thought it was the job, the external situation, that was the cause of all my problems. It wasn’t. It was me. My attitude was first cause, and my experience of the world was the direct effect of that cause.
In order for my world and my life to change, I had to change first.
I had to change my attitude to life before life changed for me.
Well, more than 20 years have passed since that early morning wake up call, but the memory and the effects of that insight are still as relevant to me today as back then. The lesson is simply this:
Your inner world is the cause. Your outer world is the effect.
Your inner world sets into motion what the outer world will reflect back to you.
What you put in, you get out. Put garbage in, get garbage out, as the computer geeks of the world like to say.
But the law also works to your benefit. It all depends on how much of yourself you put into this moment.
Put in a little amount of wood on the fire, get out a little bit of heat. Put in a lot of wood on the fire, get out a lot of heat.
Sounds obvious, but you will only get a return on what you invest. But first you must invest. You must first put money into your savings account before the bank can pay you any interest. The only interest paid on nothing is nothing.
But how many of us want a return on no investment? How many of us want to see the money first before we’ll invest? How many of us want something for nothing?
Yet that’s not how The Law of Cause and Effect works. It requires a cause for there to be, in its proper place and turn, an effect. Which is just that: a return of what you first put in. Like a boomerang, the law demands a cause in order for the effect to come back to you.
In other words, you can only receive what you first give.
By this law, the hand that sows is the hand that reaps the harvest. The harvest doesn’t come first; it requires seeds to be sowed. The harvest returns to us the seeds that have been planted, for was it not said 2000 years ago, “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.”
And the quickest, most instantaneous way you can begin to use the Law of Cause and Effect to your advantage and have it work for you, not against you, is to shift your mindset and embrace the attitude of first investing (giving), then receiving.
Know, believe, and trust that you must first give unto others before the world can give unto you.
It is the spark that ignites the flame, and that spark is your mental attitude toward Life. Life waits for you to give it what it needs to return the favour. Like starting your car engine, Life cannot mobilise and propel you forward without you first putting the key in the ignition.
As Earl Nightingale reminds us:
“Your attitude to Life determines Life’s attitude to you.”
Got a poor attitude? Always want something for nothing? Not prepared to do more than you absolutely have to?
Then Life will reflect your inner world back to you. Your external return will be in direct proportion to your inner attitude, and you will probably not be given membership to The 5% Club.
Got a good attitude? Always happy to put the effort in? Always prepared to do more than what you’re asked to do?
Then Life will reflect your inner world back to you. Your external return will be in direct proportion to your inner attitude, and you will most likely be given admission to The 5% Club, if you are not already a Life Member.
When you gain membership to The 5% Club and are welcomed through the doors into the community of success, the first thing you will notice is the attitude of all those who are there.
They don’t have a ‘What’s in it for me?” attitude. They don’t have a scarcity mindset, of competing for every morsel of food like a junkyard dog, of believing that it’s every man, woman and child for themselves.
They have a “What can I do for you?” attitude. They have an abundance mindset, of creating more of what’s good for everyone, of wanting success for every man, woman and child. Because success for others is their success.
Truly successful people have an attitude of Other People Thinking.
Are you at that place yet? Are you thinking like a truly successful person? Do you have the attitude that will get you membership to The 5% Club?
Most people don’t. They want the effect before they put in the cause. They want to have before they give.
They want to arrive at their destination before they leave.
But remember you must first think like a successful person (cause) before the world reflects success back to you (effect).
It isn’t difficult, but like my younger self running down the hospital corridor late for the ward round, it does require a subtle change of mindset. Your world isn’t going to change until you do.
Your world isn’t going to change until you develop Other People Thinking.
Essentially, as the successful person you want and intend to be, there are 3 main conditions of Other People Thinking that you will need to be mindful of and seek to develop:
- Your role and purpose toward others—your ‘I am’
- Your attitude and intention toward others—your ‘I will’
- Your actions and behaviours toward others—your ‘I can’
Developing and maintaining Other People Thinking is essential if your intent is to be more successful and impactful. You are not an island. Everything you have is because other people were involved in giving you what you now have, and they will be needed now and in the future to get what you want and become the person you want to be. You can’t do it alone. You can’t do anything alone.
Just think of the food you’ll eat for dinner. The vegetables were grown by a farmer. The meat was processed in an abattoir. The bread was baked by a baker. You probably purchased the food from a supermarket, grocer, or butcher, or it was delivered to you. You used a car or public transport to get to the supermarket, which required roads and petrol and electricity that had to be built by somebody.
The point is, we are all interdependent on other people. We need other people for the things we have, and other people need us for the service we give or the products we help make. Every community, every town, every city in the world relies on other people. To think otherwise or to believe you’ve done everything yourself is false and can only accentuate your failure and limit your membership to The 5% Club.
Which is why developing Other People Thinking is the third step in broadening your SCOPE, and this you do by:
- #1: Identifying Your Area of Service—your ‘I am’
- #2: Developing Your Attitude of Service—your ‘I will’
- #3: Adding Value Through Your Service—your ‘I can’
Just as you have used these traits—I am, I will, I can—to build your self-assuredness and self-confidence, they will also help you to build and reinforce the perspective of Other People Thinking that you will need on your continuing journey of success.
That’s because the most successful people in life are those who have worked out the most important aspect of success: how to serve others to the best of their abilities.
You may have heard of the term, Unique Selling Proposition, or USP. The marketers and salespeople of the world constantly strive to identify and hone their USP. They work on the notion that they have to somehow stand out from the crowd to make consistent sales, to be successful. They believe they have to be unique in some way or another or another business will attract the attention of the customer, hence their efforts to establish their USP.
The really successful people have also identified their USP, but it’s the opposite of what the marketers and salespeople would be used to: they have a Unique Service Proposition. They think other people. They think service.
The most successful shopkeeper is not the one who is grumpy and unsmiling when you walk into their shop. He is the one with USP and serves his customers with delight and courtesy.
The most successful waitress is not the one who is disdainful of her patrons. She is the one with USP and serves each person with a cheer and a smile.
The most successful bus driver is not the one who is impatient and angry with the traffic on the roads. He is the one with USP and serves his passengers with patience and calmness.
The most successful doctor is not the one who is disdainful and is patronising to her patients. She is the one with USP and serves her patients with care and consideration.
The most successful people in the community share this one commonality: they are devoted to serving others. In whatever field of work or endeavour they’re involved with, the service of others is their Number 1 priority.
They are makers, not takers. They make every moment and every situation bigger by serving and adding value to others. They don’t take from each moment or try to suck it dry, squeezing everything they can out of the situation or the person they’re dealing with.
They are donors, not leeches. They know that Life richly rewards those who invest as much of themselves as they possibly can into the moment. And this ‘investment of self’ is primarily achieved through the act of service.
Think service. Be of service. Continue to serve.
That’s Other People Thinking. That’s USP. That’s success.
#1: Identifying Your Area of Service – I Am
Those who are fortunate to live more than a few decades on this planet get to fulfill many roles: child, sibling, student, partner, parent, leader, worker, boss, manager, healer, carer, friend, colleague, team member, and many, many other roles.
Each role offers the opportunity for Other People Thinking and to be of service, so the question everyone should ask themselves is, “What’s my role in this life? What’s my purpose for being here?”
It will help to consider the 7 Life Segments, which I discuss in detail in my Free Online Excellerater Course and in my book, It’s Up To You! Why Most People Fail to Live the Life they Want and How to Change It.
Essentially, there are 7 common and typical segments of life that we all experience and play a role:
- Family & Relationships
- Career & Work
- Money & Finances
- Health & Wellbeing
- Learning & Education
- Fun & Adventure
- Spirituality & Ethics (or Religion & Morals)
You have at least 1 role in each of the 7 Life Segments, often many. For instance, in Family & Relationships, you may have the role of mother, wife, friend, grandmother, sister, and others.
In Learning & Education, you may have the role of student in an educational institution, or you’re embarking on a training course for personal pleasure. You may even take on the role of a teacher and educator, mentor, coach, trainer, or facilitator in professional or personal settings.
In Money & Finances, you may be the breadwinner in your family, or you look after the bookkeeping and bank accounts, stocks and shares or other investments, and even take on the responsibilities of being the landlord of your rental property.
Some roles last longer than others. Some are brief and last only for a day, a week, or a month at a time, like a coach or tutor, while other roles can last for years and even a lifetime, like a sister or brother.
So now that you can identify the many roles you play during your lifetime, you can start to focus on your areas of service.
Here’s a task you can do to help with this. Take a piece of paper and a pen and consider these questions:
- What is my main or most important area of service in each of the 7 Life Segments?
- What are the areas of service that I’m already good at? What’s my USP?
- What are the areas of service that most need my attention?
- How can I improve those 7 most important areas of service?
- What is the 1 thing I can do today and for the rest of the week that will have the most impact on my ability to serve others?
Now that you have made a start and identified your area of service, the next thing to do is to maintain your momentum, and this you do by developing your attitude of service.
#2: Developing Your Attitude of Service – I Will
We’ve discussed the importance of having the right attitude, because attitude, as we know, is the magic word.
Your attitude is the wand from which magic happens. Get your attitude right, and your world is right.
But how does this work in your practical, day-to-day life?
Let’s use the attitude of safety to show how it works. A ship’s captain and a pilot of a passenger aircraft share the same attitude and intention of safety first. To the captain and the pilot, safety for their passengers and crew is paramount. Everything they do is with the aim of arriving at their destination safely.
Because of this attitude, they don’t take unnecessary risks. They follow protocols and guidelines. They have manifests and checklists. All their thoughts and actions are focussed on getting their passengers, crew and cargo safely to port.
Imagine, though, if upon boarding your cruise ship you overheard the captain boasting how fast he could get to the next port through a section of reef that other captains were too scared to sail through? What if you glimpsed the pilot in the cockpit taking a swig from his hipflask before telling the crew to get ready to take off?
You wouldn’t feel very safe, would you? That’s because you know the captain and the pilot are not thinking ‘safety first’. They don’t have the right attitude to be in control of the vessel on which you’ve boarded.
Your attitude sets the tone of your experience because it determines the focus of your thoughts, which in turn determines the focus of your actions.
You have probably experienced this in moments when you are rushed. If you are late for an important meeting, your attitude is “I have to get there as quickly as possible or I’ll get in trouble.”
So you speed through the traffic, maybe go through a couple of amber lights, cut people off, swear at a few bicyclists that slow you down, and pray that you don’t zip past a police car and get a speeding fine.
Then you rush into the meeting only to realise you’ve forgotten your briefcase.
In this situation, your attitude is one of speed, not of safety. You need to get to your destination as quickly as you can. So your actions and behaviour reflect that attitude. Hopefully you don’t have an accident on the way and you avoid hitting a pedestrian.
Parents of newborn babies know how important safety is. On the first trip home from the hospital, the baby is carefully restrained in a capsule, which itself is secured in the backseat of the car by the seatbelt and safety hook. The parents then tentatively reverse out of the car park and slowly make their way home, keeping well below the speed limit and ensuring a huge distance between them and the car in front should they suddenly have to slam on the brakes. Then they breathe a huge sigh of relief when they pull into the driveway and turn off the ignition.
In this situation, the new parents are terrified of having an accident and are on high alert. Their sole thoughts are for the safety of the baby, and so it should be.
In the scenarios of rushing for your meeting and getting your newborn baby home safely, your attitude determines your behaviour. When you think speed, you act in a rush. When you think safety, you act safely.
When you have the right attitude, you have the right behaviour.
This is true of every person and every profession. You are happy to send your kids to class because you know the teacher has the best interests of her children at heart. You keep returning to your family doctor because you know he has your health and wellbeing in mind. You eat at your favourite restaurant or diner because you know the chef keeps a clean kitchen and uses only the freshest ingredients.
You see, you reward others who have a great attitude, and this you usually do with your money and your patronage. You trust them to serve you well and you develop continuing relationships with them. They reward you with valued service, and you reward them with the appropriate payment.
The people who add value to you and your family are the people you reward. The same is true for yourself:
Be of value to others, and they will reward you in kind.
There are many ways to be rewarded, not just with money. You can be rewarded with being trusted, by friendship, by being considered a person of integrity, and being held in high esteem. You can be rewarded by being given more responsibility at work or in your family environment. You can be rewarded by being included in organisational or sporting teams, in decision-making, in big projects. You can be rewarded by simply being appreciated, by being welcomed, by being thanked.
A consistent, good attitude reaps consistent, good rewards. Which is why Zig Ziglar emphasised the importance of attitude in determining your levels of success when he said:
“Your attitude, not your aptitude, determines your altitude.”
Talent and ability can only take you so far. Determination will take you further. But it’s your attitude that will determine how far you go and how successful you become.
And one of the best attitudes you can have is the attitude of service.
Consider the answer you gave above to the 1 thing you can do today and for the rest of the week that will have the most impact on your ability to serve others. The next step after identifying this area of service is to motivate yourself into action. You might have the best-laid plans of mice and men, but plans remain wishes without action. Faith without works is dead, as they say.
A great motivator for action is The Golden Rule:
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
In other words, do for others as you would like them to do for you.
So, a good way to develop your attitude of service is to frequently ask yourself: “What would others like in this situation?”
#3: Adding Value Through Your Service – I Can
When you serve others, you add value to their lives. It’s as simple as that.
But just because you serve someone, it doesn’t mean that you are their servant.
Service is not servitude. You are not a slave bound to a master because you serve. You are free to serve as you choose, not as others choose you to serve.
It is your free will to decide on what service you give, which is why, again, your attitude of service should always be front of mind. Always be thinking, “How can I make this moment bigger? How can I help? What do others need right now that I can give?”
It isn’t always money. In fact, it is rarely money that other people need from you. Many other things take precedence.
Here is an acronym to remember when you are stuck for ideas on how to serve others: I SERVE!
I: Importance—who is the most important person on the planet? You, of course. At least in your opinion, which it should be. But everyone thinks this way. Everyone thinks they are the most important person on the planet, and that’s also the way it should be. Everyone should value themself and their self-worth as vitally important to others.
Next time you meet someone, whether it’s an old friend, a customer, your mother, or you’re meeting them for the first time, remember that they consider themselves to be the most important person on the planet.
So treat them that way! Treat each person as though they were the most important person in the world, because to them they are.
Treat them well. Serve them well. And watch how you are treated in return.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
S: Smile—sometimes a smile is all someone needs. A smile can be a ray of sunshine for someone under a heavy cloud.
You can help shift the mood of someone simply with a smile. This is because your brain has a type of neurone called ‘mirror neurones’. They exist in birds, primates, and humans. One way a mirror neurone works is to mimic the actions, moods and behaviours in others.
This means that when you see sad people, your mirror neurones ‘fire’ and mimic the sadness you see, causing your mood to dip and feel sad.
When you see angry people behaving with aggression, your mirror neurones ‘fire’ and mimic the anger and aggression you see, causing your emotions to become hot and angry too.
The same happens when you see happy people smiling and hear them laughing. Your mirror neurones ‘fire’ and mimic the happiness you see and hear, causing you to smile and feel happier.
This is why we say that laughter is infectious. When you hear people laughing, your facial muscles twitch in response and a smile begins to form on your face. Soon you’re laughing with them.
So serve others with a smile and make the moment bigger and lighter.
E: Empathy—this is the ability to understand and share the feelings of someone else. It’s the ability to put yourself in their place as if you were them, to ‘walk in their shoes’, and offer guidance or help should it be appropriate.
It isn’t sympathy, which is to feel sorry for someone.
Psychologists identify 5 types of empathy:
- Cognitive: this type is considered ‘perspective taking’, which is putting yourself in someone else’s place and seeing the situation with their perspective. It is a rational, thoughtful, logical, reasoning, understanding empathy rather than an emotional empathy.
- Emotional: this type is considered ‘personal distress’, and involves an emotional response like the mirroring we discussed above in S: Smile. There is a ‘contagion’ aspect to this type of empathy, when we ‘catch’ the mood of the other person and is ’emotion-based’ rather than reason-based.
- Compassionate: this type is considered ‘personal concern’, and involves the concern for another’s situation with the added behavioural aspect of taking action to help them find a resolution to their problem or issue. Compassionate empathy is usually the most appropriate type of empathy.
- Somatic: this type is considered ‘personal pain’ because it involves actually ‘feeling’ someone else’s pain as a physical symptom. You might even say, “I feel your pain” when you witness a friend or colleague suffer a mishap, like twisting their ankle or hitting their head against a low ceiling. You might even wince and blurt out, “Ouch!”
- Spiritual: this type is considered ‘personal enlightenment’ and most closely resembles Buddhist ‘detachment’, whereby you are able to see the world and the events unfolding around you from a 3rd person perspective without the investment of personal emotion, desires, needs, and ego. It’s to see the world and others as would Higher Intelligence.
So understand your best type of empathy that best suits your personality and the next time you encounter someone who is in need of empathy, serve them a big dish of it and help them to digest their problems in a way that they can find resolution.
R: Recognition—one of the most basic, fundamental human needs is to be recognised and acknowledged. In my book, Your Natural State of Being, I discuss the 5 most basic human needs: joy, security, acceptance, peace, and freedom. You can pare these down to one thing: love. We all want to love and be loved.
Paradoxically, it’s also why we crave more money, power and possessions. Money, we believe, will buy us happiness. Power will give us the freedom to do what we want. Possessions will make us wanted and desired by others. That’s why we chase after these things, so that we can feel happier, safer, wanted, at peace, and free. We’ll be more loveable.
But probably the greatest need of all is the need to feel accepted by others. We all need to feel worthy and respected.
One way to look at this is inclusion versus exclusion. When others welcome us into their group or tribe or family, we feel a sense of inclusion and acceptance. We feel we’re ‘one of them’.
But to be excluded is to suffer. I recall the pain of my young daughter one day after school when she came home in tears because her friends had excluded her from their group. As it turned out, it was over a misunderstanding, as is most often the case, but her pain was real and raw and emotional. She had been rejected and she felt unworthy and humiliated.
Now, school kids are always excluding one another. It’s part of the powerplay of friendships that we all experience at one time or another. But it reflects our innate human need to belong and to be accepted by our peers.
As Brené Brown puts it in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are (Hazelden, 2010):
“A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all women, men, and children. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick… the abscence of love and belonging will always lead to suffering.”
It is a human need to be needed. It is a human desire to be desired. It is a human want to be wanted.
We crave acceptance and belonging, and when it isn’t forthcoming it leads to personal suffering.
So give the greatest gift you can to someone: Recognition. Serve it as often as you can, as much as you can, for as long as you can, and watch how you improve the lives of others and your own recognition, respect, and self-worth improves with them.
V: Value—every moment is an opportunity to serve others and add value.
Leadership expert, John C. Maxwell, says that the most important attribute of a leader is the intention to add value to others.
Whether you’re a leader in your own business, in a team, in a club, a school, or in your family, your consistent attitude of adding value to other people is what will determine your level of influence as a leader, without which nobody will listen to you or follow you.
As Theodor Roosevelt said,
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
It’s how much you care as a leader that will determine your effectiveness as a leader.
It’s interesting that research into employment trends show that most people resign and leave their job not because of the work, but because of the boss.
Most people seem to like the work they do, but their work becomes intolerable because of their boss or manager.
This has been true in my own experience. I have resigned my position as a junior doctor and sought employment elsewhere because I couldn’t stand any of the consultants that I worked under. They were slave drivers, looking after their own interests first and not caring about their junior staff. I recall one hospital where I did not respect any of the consultants in my department because of their ‘me first’ attitude and the dismal way they treated their underlings.
When I looked at them, I said to myself, “I do NOT want to be like you… or you… or you… or you… or you!”
There was not one single boss I looked up to and wanted to emulate. They didn’t care about me, and I didn’t care about them. I’m not even sure they cared about their patients. I had to leave.
So the lesson is this:
You will have no influence whatsoever until you care about the people you want to influence.
You will not be a leader until you care about the people you want to lead.
And one of the best ways to show people how much you care about them is to continually add value to their lives. Find out what they need and give it to them.
When you add value, you serve as a genuine leader.
E: Educate and Empower—give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; teach a man how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.
That’s powerful. When you can educate someone to the extent that they become self-determined, you’ve empowered them for the rest of their life.
Which is why knowledge is power. It’s also why self-knowledge is inner power.
Over 2,500 years ago, on a column in the forecourt of the temple of the ancient Oracle of Delphi, were inscribed three maxims, of which the most famous is:
Know Thy Self.
When you educate someone in the techniques to better understand themselves—who they are, what they can do, why they’re here, how they can achieve—you help them become the person they are capable of being. You help them activate and maximise their potential. You help them to live a fulfilled and valued life.
Successful people know that continual knowledge of self is a journey of lifelong learning. It is the journey of understanding—the journey to self—that unlocks all the treasures of life, all the things we want and need: joy, security, acceptance, peace, and freedom.
It is the journey to the Promised Land.
There are 5 parts or sections to that Unknown Journey to your Promised Land. We cannot avoid these parts or sections any more than we can avoid pain and discomfort during our lifetime. Nonetheless, pain and discomfort are the small price we pay to reach that land of abundance and prosperity.
- Bondage—we start the Unknown Journey as slaves to our fears, limiting thoughts, and negative emotions. Some people never leave this first section, preferring to live with what’s known, albeit fear and negativity, rather than step forward to an uncertain future and an unknown destination despite the promises of a better life.
- Calling—we all hear the calling to a brighter future. We all hear that small and still voice directing us to where we are meant to be, to that land beyond the horizon we cannot yet see. Some are deaf to it. Some listen but ignore it through fear or misunderstanding. Some doubt its promise. Few act and follow its direction.
- Leap of Faith—for those who have the courage to begin the Unknown Journey, they are at first filled with the enthusiasm of hope and joy of what might be possible. They boldly step forward, not knowing what lays ahead but assured that it is better than what has gone before. However, after some time, they reach the nexus point of fear and faith. It is their Red Sea. Up ahead, over the waters, is the Promised Land. Behind them, the clamoring of fears, limiting thoughts, and negative emotions try to pull them back into bondage. We have a choice: return to what we know as comfortable and certain, albeit slavery; or take the leap of faith and step forward knowing that we can never return to the past way of life.
- The Wilderness—upon taking the leap of faith, it isn’t long before our resolve is soon eroded with the winds of doubt and the sands of despair. We have entered The Wilderness, the Dark Night of the Soul, which we are destined to roam until we learn to let go of all that still binds us to our past. But this is a necessary time of purification and cleansing, of readying and preparing one’s self to enter the Promised Land. We can only enter naked.
- The Promised Land—after the long journey of self-discovery, we are finally ready to enter the Promised Land of Goodness, Truth and Beauty, the land of our birthright. We find a land brimming with joy, security, acceptance, peace, and freedom. A land of abundance and plenitude. A land, we find, that was always here, a land rooted in this moment of now. It had only been blocked from view by ourselves. We just had to learn to get out of the way.
So serve others by educating them. Let them know that life is a journey of self-discovery, that the Promised Land awaits those who listen to their calling, who take the leap of faith, and who ready and prepare themselves for the abundant life that is their birthright.