TRANSFORMATION IS CONTAGIOUS
I watched James's life transform before my eyes. Here's what's fantastic about observing someone, especially someone you love deeply, experience such a profound change in their life: Transformation is contagious.
I find this to be true in an individual's life and also in the corporate environment. When people encounter a person or culture that stands out from the status quo, they not only take notice but also want to be part of it. It inspires further change in their lives, and it fills an environment with a kind of buzz that's infectious.
James was infectious in his passion and transformation. When people see that you've changed and that you passionately desire to make the world a better place, it ignites a fire in them as well.
LEADERSHIP DRIVEN BY A HIGHER PURPOSE
James didn't wait for someone to sketch him a roadmap on how to help the people in the villages he encountered. He knew what needed to be done, and he set about to do it.
The world will tell you how to live, what needs to happen in your life, and in what order. But you and I must make a choice whether we listen to the world or to another, more excellent voice. Will we embrace the status quo in our lives and in our businesses? Will we tolerate a corporate environment just because that's just the way the world works? Or will we seek another path?
I believe the world needs this new breed of leader. For years now, we've understood leadership to be influence. And I still believe that is true—to a point. But a leader is far more than just an influencer.
I suppose you could argue that an influencer does not need to possess virtuous qualities because influence can be both positive and negative. When we define leadership as influence, what are we really saying? Are we saying all you need to do in order to be a leader is influence a person in some fashion? Well, I suppose that is leadership to some extent. But transformational leadership looks much different than mere influence. I want to suggest we expand our definition of leadership to include qualities I believe are necessities for positive transformation. The transformational leader
* begins with the person in the mirror
* pursues virtue and transparency
* is guided by something deeper than influence
* is compelled by a higher purpose
When James decided to make a difference in the lives of the people he encountered in Africa, for example, he did so because he knew it was the right thing to do. He was driven by a higher purpose.
I wrote this book to encourage you that we don't have to live and work according to the traditional rules of the world. We can forge new paths in our personal lives and in our businesses, ways marked with the deep values that make life meaningful and give purpose to our vocations.
Our journeys look different, and that's okay. I've thought through my journey and considered the legacy I want to leave for those who come after me.
The legacy I want to leave is composed of the lessons I've learned through personal transformation. I've learned so much through my own spiritual transformation, observing my son's transformation, and living through an incredible cultural transformation in our business. This word "transformation" keeps popping up in my life, and I love it.
When I think of the values that have guided my life as well as our business endeavors, I think of principles like accountability, purpose, humility, stewardship, pursuing growth, excellence, and commitment. It's not rocket science, and these values are not new. But like anything in life, knowing the path and walking the path are different things.
We hear words like "humility" thrown around in our society all the time. Still, who among us strives to be genuinely humble in leadership—it's a difficult task. Likewise, stewardship and accountability challenge our vision for the future and our innate desire to do what we want. But the men and women I admire most are guided by values such as these.
Who among us doesn't want to leave a meaningful legacy for those who come after we're gone? As we continue to explore what it means to be a transformational leader, consider these questions. Maybe take a minute or two and jot down your answers to them in your journal. If you're not someone who journals, maybe chat with a friend, family member, or coworker over lunch about them.
Questions to Consider
1. If you didn't wake up tomorrow, what would your legacy be? (I know, it's a sobering thought.)
2. Is your legacy wrapped up in externals like achievements, business success, or cash? Or are you investing in something more valuable than all of that stuff?
3. We all face the same end. How will you be remembered?
WOULD YOU WANT TO WORK HERE?
Let's apply some of what we're discussing to the corporate business world so we can see how who we are as people translates to what we become as organizations.
I want you to imagine for a moment that a Fortune 500 company recently hired you. You're excited because you've read so many great things about the company; it possesses high values, it treats its employees well, and it's just a great place to work. Then you show up for your first day.
You meet your boss, who seems slightly annoyed that he has to show you to your office, and then he drops you off unceremoniously in the breakroom, where you're to meet with another employee who's going to show you the ropes. As you stand there holding a cup of coffee waiting for your tour guide, another young professional enters the breakroom and pours some coffee and notices you standing there looking lost and confused.
"First day?" she says as she pours her creamer into her coffee. "Uh...yes. I—"
"Save it. And get used to it. A little piece of advice. You'll hear all about our company's way today, but it's lip service. Nothing more."
"But I thought—"
"Yeah, so did I," she says as she turns and looks at you. "I mean, I suppose it's the thought that counts, but the only person who's on your side around here is you. Sorry."
This excerpt ends on page 19 of the hardcover edition.
Monday we begin the book Sunrise by Susan May Warren.