Thursday, May 21, 2015

What is Leadership?

If there is a question I ask myself every single day, sometimes unintentionally, it is 'what is leadership'? I may not even ask it in those precise words. I may not even ask it in the context of a group of people. But in order to take on the things I do, and the things I want to accomplish, every day this question must be posed.

Leadership is often a term people give prestigious status. It is often looked at as something only people with certain gifts can obtain. But in reality, it's something we can choose to take on at any moment. In the moment we are presented with a situation, we can choose to handle it from a context of Leadership, or not. This choice is neither right or wrong, good or bad. It simply is a choice that delineates a result with a lasting impact, for a larger vision, and likely benefit more than oneself.

I am sitting on the train this morning daydreaming of my upcoming day and what I need to get done. At a stop, a group of people walk on and I am still in Lala-Land. I notice the person next to me gets up and I see he is offering his seat to a middle aged woman. Not old per say, but older than he and I for sure. I looked to see the pleasantly surprised look of gratitude on her face as she sat next to me. He gave the woman a brief smile and held on to the bar. It was nothing to him, almost an automatic decision to give up his seat. He also did not get off soon; he was on the train for many more stops, standing. There was nothing especially unique looking about this guy. He was just a guy, but in that moment he was a leader. Why? Because he inspired me. He made me step outside my box and consider things next time I have the opportunity to bring a pleasant surprise of joy to someone else, someone I don't know, for no reason at all except to be able to. And I'm sure I'm not the only one he inspired in that moment. His act may have also opened up something for that woman, who knows.

In dealing with my clients, I have come across a plethora of situations where I not only have to ask myself what a good business owner do, but also what a leader would do. In many of these situations, a decision that may be wise for my business may not necessarily be the one a leader would make. In the end I always have to ask myself... What is the situation with a win/win? Does it mean I may need to take responsibility for something that makes me uncomfortable but in the end will have everyone benefit? Or will it be better for my business if I just choose the easier decision, and walk away knowing only one of us has won? Will I always wonder if I could have handled things better.

Leadership as whole, when integrated into my home, work, and life may take more effort and focus but has proven time and time again to manifest stronger relationships, stability, abundance...and it empowers me. It also has been known to inspire others around me to not only trust me but step up and take on a leadership context in their own lives. It sounds like a responsibility that no one would want to take on, but the point I am making is you already do, like it or not. That man probably didn't wake up and say to himself, 'I'm going to be a leader today', but by giving up his seat he was one, without even knowing it. If he did not, would it have been bad? No, of course not. People's lives would have gone on just the same as they always have. Trust me, choosing the leadership context is not something I do all the time - I'm a human being. There are days when I don't feel like it, and the world around me doesn't change. But the more I choose it, the easier it becomes, the more rich my life is, and the more I attract the people who are also leaders living in integrity.

This became such a stand, such an intoxicating way to live, that I came up with this idea...a crazy plan to take my talents, my gifts, and use them to share this idea of leadership. It's my way of improving the planet. Because as long as anyone can be empowered by a choice, a choice that may inspire greatness and potential in others, why not spread it?

Our industry was in need of support and guidance when it comes to building a business from a place of Leadership. Thus for the past 4 years I have built the The Body of Artists Leadership Program, a creative community of artists committed to growing and giving through Leadership. We are about to start our 4th program in July. I'm so proud of the artists that have come through it already... Making the world a better place with their art and integrity. I could not as a teacher and mentor, and quite honestly as a human being, ask for more.

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