One of the greatest challenges any leader who truly cares about those around him faces is helping those for whom he is responsible to overcome mental, moral or emotional weaknesses that are preventing the full expression of their inner perfection. This responsibility devolves upon leaders of all stripes – parents, teachers, managers and more – and it requires a deft handling and heightened sensitivity to the factors and pressures at play.
As a leader you always hope that those under your care learn their lessons swiftly, with as little discomfort as possible and with minimal collateral damage, but every once in a while the factors align in such a way that enlightenment comes slowly. Stubbornness, confusion, evasion, chronic refusal to correct the matter and hundreds of other complicating factors might stand in the way of the individual realizing the err of his ways swiftly, let alone the presence, opinions and reactions of others around, whether or not they are directly involved.
These are the most painful lessons for all involved. They are drawn out. They are messy. Inordinate amounts of pressure are required to pierce the veil which hangs between the individual as he now is and the individual he should be. These are the least pleasant moments, but they are often the most critical. True leaders stand guard at these junctures, ready to say “thus far and no further” to those who carry limitations unnecessarily and willfully towards the point of no return. These are the times where steadiness, poise and pure-heartedness are often in short supply, but great demand.
A true friend and a true leader accepts you as you are in the short-term, while always expecting and encouraging the highest and finest of which you are capable. True leaders do their best to help you move past the obstacles and weaknesses you face and possess, whether or not you see them yourself, and they do so as invisibly as possible.
Leaders who do not possess self-confidence will push and demand with great bluster, making a show of their position or a display of the supposed strength that comes from their relative position of authority, while those who have truly accepted their mantle of natural, inherent greatness do not flaunt their authority or wave it over the heads of those for whom they are responsible.
Life lessons needn’t all be painful. The old adage “no pain no gain” is a lie as I have seen many life-changing lessons work out with the greatest of ease. Such changes require a practiced humility that does not temper but magnifies the expression of power that comes from within, as well as the willingness to admit to yourself that you were wrong, repent deeply (and more often than not privately) and move on, never to repeat the same mistake twice.
There is little value in being a “drama queen,” a state of consciousness that places a premium on angst and a discount on righteousness. If you are to be effective in living, effective as followers and eventually effective as leaders in the world you center, you must come to the point where you are willing to let go of the childish tendencies of pushing everything to the limit, being coy to avoid owning up to a weakness and allowing for the obvious adjustment that must be made along the way. When you make this change in yourself, the refiner’s fire is no longer something to be feared, it is where you live.
And when you live there, you can invite those around you to follow. Believe it or not, most people do not recognize their own weaknesses and faults and you are wise to approach them first and foremost in the spirit of forgiveness. Do so in the cool of the evening as well as the heat of the day and your example will shine brightly to others. Your life will be a beacon of sanity in a world of chaos. And before you know it, you become the leader you were born to be.