09/21/15

Find Your Leadership

By Melanie Spring

In the world of gurus, masters and ninjas teaching us how to be millionaires in our underwear, hope is replaced with snark. "Buy my online course to learn how to make millions selling online courses" is sold by a man making money selling online courses about selling nothing. "You won't believe what happened next" click-bait blog posts are the new late night infomercials. The obnoxious are the ones we hear the loudest and it's (mostly) hot air.

Flip the coin and you see the quiet, focused experts working hard at producing serious content, classes, and courses they give away freely and lovingly. They want to teach others everything they know about being great. They aren't gimmicky. They don't want you to sign up for something only so they can call you and tell you about their latest, greatest, money-making product. They just know they have something to share and it's their job to share it.

“Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.” - Vince Lombardi

Leadership takes time. Dedication, focus, caring, and commitment - that's the "secret formula" to becoming a leader. And there is no finish line to cross. There is no certification, no college degree, no exact science to becoming a leader. You don't get a badge or a nametag or an award. You become a leader by taking the time, putting in the hard work, and doing it for more than just yourself.

Here's what I've learned from the great leaders I know:

1. Give a damn.

So often people mistake success with just working hard and going somewhere big. In reality, it's who you cared about and what you cared about that makes you a great leader. If we focus on ourselves, we keep a narrow view of what others need. If we focus on giving a damn, our tribe follows and builds itself.

2. Find a mentor.

Mentors come in all shapes and sizes. Find a leader you want to emulate and ask them to meet with you, even virtually. Paid or unpaid. They have knowledge you need and great leaders want to impart their knowledge. And listen to them - keep a journal - write it all down. Someday you'll want to share that knowledge with others who ask YOU to mentor them, you great leader, you.

3. Read everything.

Some mentors come in the form of books. Find authors you love. Buy their (real paper, non-virtual, you can flip the pages yourself) books. Use highlighters and pens and write in the margins. Keep notebooks full of notes about what you're learning. And share those books with others. 

4. Take a leadership course.

"Iron sharpens iron." Leaders hang out with leaders. And what better place to become a leader than to be in a class with others on the same path. Take a leadership course and have others push you to become great. Find a class in your area led by someone you look up to or take one online. (Beware of gimmicks.)

5. Give back.

Leaders aren't takers, they're givers. And great leaders give back. They mentor. They give their time to others. Find a place to volunteer and share all the knowledge you have. Even if you feel you don't have a lot to share, there are people who want to learn what you know. The more you give, the more you get.