It has been a discussion for the ages, whether leaders are born or made. Countless philosophers, professors, businessmen, and thought leaders have posed and continue to debate that question. There is an answer, but before we can know that we must first know the truth about leadership potential.
When one identifies the essential qualities of a leader, their is one common mindset that every leader, great or small (there are no small leaders by the way), in whatever sphere of influence they have, possess. That core ingredient is the mindset to lead. The minds of every leader in every generation, in every walk of life, were able to adopt a way of thinking to see a vision, gather the resources, instill the vision, and motivate others to act. Whether it’s President Roosevelt or Sir Winston Churchill in WWII, Richard Branson, Knute Rockne or Dolly Madison, or the high school history teacher that everyone fondly remembers the lessons they taught, each and every one were able to positively say within themselves “I know what needs to be done, and I can do it.”
Each leader, as a person of their own free will, had decisions to make continually over the course of their lives that culminated in being able to lead when the time was ready. They all had struggles, setbacks, times of discouragement, and failures. Yet they were able to keep saying inside “I can rise above this”. So they chose to pursue the mindset that enabled them to be confident in themselves; an adoption of positive self-speak and perseverance. One they chose, in spite of their circumstances and in spite of their temptations to pack it in and take the easy road to complacency and obscurity. They chose it over the defeatist and despairing pull on the human psyche.
While some people may scoff and say “But I can’t be like them”, think again with this fact. Every single person who has ever lived has faced thoughts of fear, self doubt, and inadequacy. When faced with those circumstances, we can choose to meld our thoughts into negative feelings, and be hostage to them. Or we can choose the other path, the path that gives us self-worth, confidence, and a positive outlook. It’s a choice. If you can think a negative thought towards yourself, you can think a positive one.
Abraham Lincoln could have easily chosen the thoughts to keep him form public service, and not pursue a career in politics. But he made up his mind to hold malice to no one, including himself, and this changed the course of our country in a time where leadership was in dire need. Men and women overcame their poor childhoods to become rags-to-riches stories, stories we have in abundance, because they chose the mindset that set them up to lead.
Thoughts are a choice. You can choose to be angry at the false accusation, or choose to turn the other cheek. Choose to take the failure hard and blame bad luck or gear up for the next adventure. These are the thoughts that will ultimately free us from our prison of incapability. Thoughts that produce a mindset to win, succeed, lead, and enrich not just your life but countless others. You can choose. Choose to lead.