Leadership’s Lonely Road


The title of this post is not intended to depress you.  The title of this post is to prepare you, so you can know how to navigate the inevitable.  Time to put up a road block to "denial."

If you recognize yourself as a leader (someone who has influence-great or small), then times of loneliness are familiar to you.  You know what I mean.  Remember when you spoke out in defense of a colleague, but no one joined you?  How about when you embraced an idea that took longer to become a reality than many had patience for?  If you're trying to get your arms around the idea, then I hope what I'm writing will inform and inspire. 

A lonely road can be defined in the following ways:

  • A place where you are taking a path less traveled.
  • A place where you are facing fierce opposition.
  • A place where you know you're right.
  • A place like the Rubicon.
  • A place of deep questioning.

For those of you who lead in corporate America I feel a special connection.  Please keep in-mind that leading is simply influencing.  Leading is not exclusive to a title or job description.  My loneliest times can be found during that period of my life spent inside of corporate America.  Oh my, did I learn though!  I learned what crucibles were all about.  Ever been in a meeting where your authentic voice was ignored?  I say authentic, because counter-genuine leadership is so prevalent today.  Ever tried to tell your manager that customers are growing tired of the delays?  But your manager turns it back on you and implies you're not a team player.

Most mile markers on these roads are truly opportunities to grow.  Even though you may feel strange because of your circumstances.  Call it what you will, but you must go through in-order to grow into the leader you were meant to be. 

So how do we navigate through the lonely roads?  Here are some practical suggestions:

  • Recognize that lonely roads are places of discovery.  The happy/success roads rarely teach you and grow you.
  • Lonely roads will help you know who is for you.  True friends stay with you on lonely roads.  Sycophants, posers and fair-weather friends won't go with you on lonely roads.  You need to know who you can count on.
  • This might be pre-navigation, but don't think that lonely roads are for others.
  • Your greatest crucible will be the object of your greatness communication.
  • Find and stay close to trusted advisors/mentors.
  • Focus on your vision.  Without a vision, lonely roads will convince you to give up.
  • Remove the incongruent values from your life.
  • Remember, expression deepens impression, so keep talking about your dreams.  You are the dream and the dream is you.
  • Find those you can help and do so.  There is healing in helping others as they navigate a lonely road.
  • Start writing (a blog, a journal, a diary).  You don't want to leave your head full of your anger, your doubts, your fears.  The blank page is your friend.

We’ve Changed, Just Ask Us


I think Wall Street would be a great place to hold a retro Greek Tragedy.  When you think about it they have all the elements you’d need:Hypocrisy





Who could ask for more?  The Motley Fool has a great article on the rating agencies’ (Moody’s, S&P, etc.) tell of woe.

Now remember folks, no one is to blame and we’ve changed, just ask us.  That would be a great PR campaign for Wall Street.

Fear and greed still lives.

How To Surround Yourself With People Who Are For You Part II

I wrote a post some time ago about how to surround yourself with people who are for you.  It warrants another look today, considering all the recent news (elections, recession, career insecurity).

The following are 7 keys to knowing and choosing:

  1. Start thinking seriously about the circle of people that surrounds you now.  Evaluate (why do you hang around them, are they positive or negative, would they be around if you failed) the value they bring to your life, and then make a decision about whether they should be in your circle.  Sign post up ahead; this won’t be easy.
  2. Test those who you’ve decided to keep.  For example, tell them about a dream you have.  See if they tell you its impossible.  A person that embraces the impossible is more than likely seeking to keep you in a box.
  3. Do the people in your circle cross-pollinate with you? Meaning, are they looking to you for inspiration.  You don’t want a one-sided relationship.
  4. Have the people in your circle connected you with others who can help?  If they haven’t, question why not.
  5. Is there any jealousy between you?  If someone in your circle is jealous, then its a sign of someone just hanging around to satisfy their insecurities.  Be careful here, jealous people eventually betray.
  6. Look to the eyes to discover what is in the soul.  For example, if you see fear when you tell someone your dreams, then you are probably looking at someone who won’t be for you.  They may say something positive, but its a mask.
  7. Control your urge to be liked.  We all want this, but it can kill if we’re not careful.

It’s so important to have a powerful circle of people who genuinely seek your good.  These people are ecstatic when you win.  They also will be grounded in reality, which is key in keeping you from chasing fantasies.

A Book of Dreams

Do you have a book of dreams?  I’m talking about the book that holds all the dreams you’ve seen become reality.  I think you should have one.  Here’s why:

  • Without a book of dreams, you’ll fall from someone else’s dogma.  For example, your boss or the latest feel-good/no-pain sales pitch.
  • Dreams make every pursuit meaningful.  Your career then becomes a tool to catch your dreams.
  • People without a book of dreams fall prey to fantasy.  Fantasy is the exercise of hoping Simon realllllllly likes you.
  • God placed dreams in you to draw you.
  • Show me someone without a book of dreams, and I’ll show you someone who is cynical, critical and hurting.
  • People with a book of dreams have figured out that dreams do come true (thank you Walt) and anything less is a lie.
  • People with a book of dreams are at peace with knowing that life is a limited time offer, so they run harder.
  • A book of dreams will give you focus, and not distraction.

I’m sure I could have kept the above list shorter, but I’m speaking from my own experience.  I’d like to warn you also, expect people to think you’re a nut case.  Just expect it.  Those well intentioned (you know what road they pave) people will tell you that you’re being impractical, foolish, and stubborn.  "I’m jealous of you and too afraid to pursue my own dreams," is what you won’t hear.  But it lives in them just the same.