In Pablo Casals’ later years, a young reporter asked: “Mr. Casals, you’re 95 years old and the greatest cellist that ever lived. Why do you still practice six hours every day?” Casals replied: “Because I think I’m making progress.”
Intentional efforts to develop our own potential are important precursors to success. Capable, mature leaders are reflective, self aware and intentional about their own preparation. Consider what these five c-words mean for your growth:
Character. Over the long haul, people inevitably fail when integrity wavers. Ethics in leadership are an essential basic. For nearly 30 years, researchers have surveyed over 75,000 people on 6 continents to determine what they admire in leaders. The overwhelming attribute that always matters most? Honesty. Effective people are clear about principles. They’re integral to great potential. Character is ambition with internal guidance. Stand rock-strong on values.
Consistency. Choosing constructive routines requires self discipline. Good habits assure productive activity and are part of both efficiency and effectiveness. Small, smart choices are consistent bits of progress. In our office, we often say “DIN” and “Eat the frog.” DIN translates to “do it now.” And, “eat the frog” signals that we ought to tackle the least desirable work first. Once we get past the “hard part,” everything else feels easy. Both maxims support a habit of urgency which helps us accomplish lots each day. Build great habits.
Challenge. Rubber bands, like people, fulfill their potential when stretched. While choices to pursue challenges can be uncomfortable they are essential to growth. Renowned pastor Robert Schuller asked: “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” Discovering your capabilities requires risk and change. Choose stretch goals.
Curiosity. People who spend lots of energy learning – ask questions – both direct and rhetorical. A passionate, abundant curiosity fuels growth and development. This means you are willing to be vulnerable. Be sure to welcome questions from others, too. Exploration, imagination and discovery all require curiosity. Ask “why?” often.
Contribution. John Maxwell, a leadership coach and author says, “Be a river.” He explains that a river flows…what it receives it gives away. This perspective means you must give time, expertise, and resources to others without expectation of anything in return. The attitudes and actions of a contributor are generous. Be other-centered; foster the development of people through creating opportunities, your example, coaching, and feedback. If you are a leader, your actions impact others. Helping others grow should be part of your plan. Live usefully.
-Lisa Wyatt, Ed. D. is chief strategy officer and partner in Phillip Wyatt Knowlton, Inc. PWK is a performance management resource for systems change with clients worldwide. Lisa has cross-sector and international experience. She is an author and W.K. Kellogg Leadership Fellow. See : www.pwkinc.com.