Sunday, January 18, 2009

Set Your Vision into Motion Too

On January 20th the United States will again demonstrate its talent for peaceful transitions as the stewardship of presidential power is passed literally and figuratively. This year of course is unprecedented, thankfully so.

Every four or eight years the world is treated to the reminder that change is inevitable and can be embraced with dignity, respect and celebration. This year's inaugural address from Barack Obama is likely to provide lofty language of hope, openness to new ideas and an urging to view a landscape full of possibilities. There will be calls for sacrifice and the somber reality that tough decisions between terrible options will be made. The spirit of America will be renewed and echoed across the Washington Mall and into the classrooms and offices, churches, synagogues and mosques across the land as unity seeks to replace past divisiveness. People of every spot and stripe will be called upon to act and to lead.

I have long believed that everyone has the capacity to be a leader. A leader is a person who knows their strengths and maximizes them while making their weaknesses irrelevant. They do the same for their followers, be they citizens of the world or members of a little league team. A leader shares their vision, passion, and action. To move an organization, family, or nation forward, they create an environment where what I call "The Four Musts" can thrive.

• A strong leader and strong, pervasive leadership
• A repeatable compelling vision and sense of purpose
• A sense of overwhelming optimism
• A regular diet of meaningful recognition

A leader also understands the value of teamwork and freely acknowledges that wherever they hope to go, they cannot get their alone. They prioritize actions by asking their followers what I call "The Power Question". "What one thing can I do for you that will most help you make a positive difference?"

On Tuesday, anyone who is listening will know the transformative vision of this nation. Some may not like or accept it. That's okay. Conscientious objections are useful because listening to those who oppose you is a great way to learn, improve and unite.

An inaugural address is like a manifesto, a way of sharing your intentions and initiatives and where you're headed. What about you? How do you emerge from your periods of darkness? What is your vision? Where is your passion? What have you put into action? Find a way of communicating it to the people who are important to you. You may be surprised at how much sooner you'll arrive.