Our world is facing indisputable and daunting challenges. The cracking of the U.S. debt ceiling. The drought and incomprehensible famine in Somalia. Civil unrest in virtually every region in the world – including our own. Homelessness on the rise. Out of control healthcare costs and lack of access for many. And when we bring these issues home – to our own organizations, teams, and personal scenarios – they become even more real when we truly look the tiger in the eye. Our security, on every level – our freedoms, our financial well being, the future for our children, and our own professional directions – stands at risk.
What can we do about it? Many things do seem out of our control – and in some cases, they are. Yet, when I was reading The New York Times‘ “Corner Office” from earlier this year, I felt a few of the key points of wisdom as shared from a small group of successful CEO’s extremely relevant. Their five points for achieving success included:
- Passionate curiosity. Always stay curious. Ask questions. Learn from everyone. Stay open. Stay alert and AWAKE. There is more than one right answer! Just because it has never been done that way before does not mean it can’t be – or perhaps even should be.
- Battle hardened confidence – which, here, translates to observe and know what leads to success and failures in life. Build awareness around your failures and successes and do not blame it on someone else – or something else. In a word: own it. This aspect of accountability and owning is missing in virtually every aspect of society – from our government trying to lead our country out of a desperate state, to our population wanting hand-outs, to middle managers in corporate America frustrated with senior leadership. We need to “be the change we wish to see.” Period. We own it.
- Team smarts – working together is the only way. Nothing on a grand scale is done in solitude or alone. Embrace diversity – in opinion, approach and background experience.
- A simple mindset – as a dear mentor of mine used to teach us: it must pass the “Granny test”: if our grandmother doesn’t get it, then it is simply too complicated. The KISS approach keeps us focused and reduces the tendency to lose the plot.
- Fearlessness – Ask the questions of which we are afraid of the answers. Pursue the unknown – even if it is dark. Shake the status quo. Like the other four points, fearlessness is an attitude. And because attitude is one of the few things over which everyone has complete control, it is a character trait which we can develop.
Whether this be in our current jobs, company or in our national endeavors, we have to continually look in the mirror with passionate curiosity and have the courage and confidence to make – and lead – change. That is the only way forward.