Recently we were away in Europe and more specifically in Greece, and met a fascinating waiter by the name of Dino. What’s funny is that from the outside there was nothing special about Dino. He wasn’t overly tall, wasn’t a celebrity, or didn’t wear a clown outfit. It was the inside that was so special.
What he had was perspective; perspective that isn’t found very often. He told us about his 64 years of life, about his wife, his children, and his upbringing in Greece. He talked about his ancestry and how his entire family tree was born and raised in Greece…dating back to BC dates. But the one thing that stood out from the rest was this…
“Sometimes I reflect and philosophize on my choices in my life and where I ended up but then I am reminded that I can make a legacy for myself no matter the position, wealth, or influence.”
It’s about taking the responsibility for our choices in life and accepting our ‘place’ in this world and creating a life that will leave a mark around that so-called ‘place’.
As examples, how often have you been out for dinner with a close friend that is a not happy at work and decides to lament their work situation during the entire meal? Communicating things like…
· “It’s the team's (or management’s) fault that I’m overworked”
· “Because of their incompetence, I’m so busy that I have little time to spend with my family.”
· “I’m out of shape because my workload leaves no time for exercise, let alone time for myself.”
· “If my team were better, the organization would be more profitable.”
The reality is, it has happened to many of us. We realize that things at work or in some aspect of our personal lives are not going the way we want them to go. Our immediate response is to find other people or outside circumstances to blame for our dissatisfaction. Thus, we avoid taking responsibility for personal choices that perpetuate the problems we face.
Shifting blame for our problems away from ourselves eliminates our need to take charge of our own lives. By blaming other circumstances or other people for our problems, we avoid taking responsibility in our jobs, in our families or in our communities. We abdicate leadership. We give our power away to the people or the organizations around us. Then we become frustrated when the results we want are not forthcoming. Having stepped out of leadership, though, we are powerless to make effective changes toward our goals.
We regain our power to affect change when we recognize that our choices, whether conscious or unconscious, and our actions create the circumstances around us. Although we will have to face the fears that come with change, it will be in recognizing that we have options that we will become empowered again. We will reclaim leadership.
It is not always easy to take responsibility for our choices and our behavior. Many times, in fact, it is quite difficult. As we reclaim accountability, though, we realize that we are capable of being effective leaders. We become the authors of own stories. We create our own destinies. This is the heart of what it means to be a leader.