Leadership Confessions Blog Series Part 2 (It’s Never Free.)
Leadership comes at a cost. More accurately, leadership comes at a deep cost. In fact, leadership comes at a cost that no one can fathom until they themselves are placed in “that” role. No book, seminar, advice, or person can adequately prepare you for the cost that great leaders face.
I used to think that certain leaders attained their influence in large part by knowing the right people, at the right time, and being in the right place. Now, I do believe that those factors do help a leader get to where they want to be. It doesn’t hurt to have good relationships with great people who can help you actualize the passions in your heart.
Nevertheless, I believe that every leader of influence “got there” because they paid a price. In many cases, a deep, painful price. Was it worth it? For some, the answer is “Most definitely!”. For others, the answer would probably not be as robust.
Take a moment and read up on the lives of the great leaders that you admire from a distance. How many of them achieved their “successes” at the cost of health, family, and relationships? It’s not by accident that a great leader gains influence. There’s usually a darker story that remains in the backdrop of any public figure. It is rarely, if ever, as nice backstage as it is on stage when the lights are on with cameras rolling and the crowds cheering.
The truth is that extraordinary work requires extraordinary sacrifice. What’s the point here?
First of all, let me tell you what my point IS NOT:
- I am definitely NOT trying to expose any leaders that have great influence. I really respect great influencers and the price they paid to do a lot of good in the world.
- I am NOT saying that people with extraordinary calls should give up because of the cost of leadership. Sacrifice is noble in numerous contexts. In extraordinary circumstances, people have sacrificed even family and health to accomplish what they believed to have been for the greater good. I’m not here to judge those kinds of difficult choices.
What I am saying is this:
- If you want to do something of great impact, it will cost you…something. The point here is that I don’t want you to fool yourself into thinking things just happen because you have great passion or a good idea. Good ideas are a dime a dozen. The real battle is in sacrificial implementation of the idea. (For those of you in a faith context, even people who have done great things for God went through much personal sacrifice to get there.)
- Consider if you are willing to give up what it takes to actualize a passion. Now, the difficulty is that you won’t know what the cost is. Nevertheless, you should talk to people who have walked through similar paths to gain some nuggets of wisdom as you embark on your own journey. Will they be able to completely prepare you? No way. Yet, you need to listen to those who have gone before.
- Focus on developing tangible skills for implementing an idea and don’t be surprised at how much work it takes to develop the necessary skills. Remember, it’s never free. It takes time and effort to become effective in a discipline as a leader.
- Invite those who will be most impacted by your sacrifice to speak into your decision making. I have seen married couple really damage their relationship because the one with the vision did not adequately communicate to their partner. If you have family, whether you like it or not, they will be a part of your journey. Don’t sugar-coat vision to your love ones as it relates to sacrifice.
- Seriously consider your health. No…listen…consider your health. You may feel young now, but our bodies, in most cases, cannot keep up with our passions or work ethic. Any serious leader must find others who will guard their health in the midst of pursuing a great task. Too many have been unnecessarily sidelined in the midst of doing good.
I am the last one to say “Don’t go for it.” or “It cannot be done.” I am one of the most optimistic people on the planet. I love IDEAS and the passion that leaders exude. The last place I want to end up in is skepticism or cynicism.
I’m simply reminding all the dreammakers that the price of leading something is definitely a price. For some, I hope this post has encouraged you to keep going knowing that the price you are paying now is a part of the journey. For others, I hope that you would take a moment to reconsider what it is you are willing to pay as you pursue a passion as a leader.
I am only 36 and have accomplished much in the opinion of others. I’m here to tell you that it all came at a deep cost. Was the sacrifice worth it? Some of it really was. I would do it all over again. Nevertheless, there are other areas of sacrifice that I don’t want to enter again. What are these areas? Future blogs posts will reveal…
the journey continues…