During our mid-year face-to-face retreat with Leaders Ought To Know® client Helena Chemical, we heard an interesting statement. We were asking the group what they thought about developing leadership skills. A person in sales management said something that was simple, but profound. He said, “The more you think about leadership, the more you find yourself practicing it daily.”
The comment is such a gem of truth that it is worth repeating. The more you think about something, the more you find yourself acting on it. In other words, the mental exercise of contemplating something, whether it is a particular leadership skill or anything else, energizes the actual results that you achieve.
This truth contains two learnings that are important.
First, it means that we can add power to our own efforts to transform ourselves. If, by thinking about something regularly, we can add fire to our efforts, why not do it? But how? How can we push ourselves to think about something that we may not like thinking about and that certainly does not come naturally to us? Consistency is the key. We need to remind ourselves, even on a daily basis, of those transformational changes we wish to make so that we think about them regularly. Ben Franklin did that with singular focus, selecting one virtue of 13 at a time to work on. As Ben said (and as we emphasize in the Leaders Ought To Know® program), “I judg’d it would be well not to distract my attention by attempting the whole at once, but to fix it on one of them at a time.”
Second, we must practice what we desire. When we catch ourselves failing to exhibit the new behavior we’re working to build, we need to stop, consider what went wrong, and recommit to doing better next time. In other words, we need to put effort into developing a new habit. The amount of effort and time to accomplish this changes with the complexity of the behavior we’re trying to change. (See “How Long it Takes to Form a New Habit”.
Hat’s off to our Leaders Ought To Know® participant for his succinct recognition of an important principle: the more you think about leadership, the more you find yourself practicing leadership daily.