As we continue our journey on helping you create a WOW year, over the next two posts we are going to focus on bolstering your WOW Power—your influence on people, circumstances, the community and the marketplace around you.
I want to help you become a WOW leader.
Having met, interviewed, studied and/or featured many of the greatest leaders alive today the most admirable, powerful, compelling, WOWing, quality of a leader is…
Wait… before I tell you, what do YOU think it is?
Think about it.
What do you think is the quality that people admire most in their leaders?
When you think of history’s most powerful, compelling, influential, movement-making and game-changing leaders, what do you think was their most admired quality? The one that attracted people to them and enrolled people into wanting to support their great mission, goals or causes?
Do you have your answer ready?
OK, let me reveal the answer…
Having what you say, what you feel, what you believe, and what you do be the same as who you are.
We know the foundation of leadership is credibility and doing what you say—being the example we want others to model. To do so you have to be clear on your values and align actions with those values.
Certainly a great example of this trait is Mahatma Gandhi. What he believed, he lived. People want to follow a person like that—someone, like Gandhi, who lived his values and had a clear higher purpose that connected with millions of others as a shared vision.
One of the most widely told stories about Gandhi is “The Little Boy and Sugar.” It is such a great example to live up to that it is worth being shared here as we build up to our theme of helping you bolster your WOW Power:
A woman came to see Mahatma Gandhi, waiting in line for more than half a day with her son at her side in order to have an audience with him. When at last it was their turn to speak to him, the woman said, “Mahatma, please. Tell my son he must stop eating sweets. It is ruining his health, his teeth, it affects his mood. Every time he has it, I see the change in him and there is nothing I can do to stop him from eating it, and then eating more. He’s a good boy, but when it comes to sweets, he becomes a liar and a thief and a cheat and I’m afraid it will ruin his life. Please, Gandhi, tell him to stop.”
Gandhi looked at the boy for the longest time as he cowered there, trying to hide in his mother’s sari. Finally, Gandhi broke the silence and said. “Come back to me in two weeks’ time.” Confused and a bit disappointed that he could not simply tell her son to stop eating sugar, the mother left with her son.
Two weeks later the woman returned with her child and once again waited in line for hours before finally it was again their turn to see the Master. “Mahatma,” said the mother. “We have returned. We came to you for help with this boy eating sweets and you asked us to come back after two weeks.”
“Yes, of course I remember,” said Gandhi. “Come here, child.” He motioned the boy forward.
The boy, at the urging and prodding of his mother, disentangled himself from her sari and stepped up to the Mahatma, who reached out, putting his hands on the boy’s shoulders and pulling him in close. He looked the boy squarely in the eye and said, firmly, “Don’t eat sweets,” then released him.
“That’s it?” said the mother. “That’s all you’re going to say?” She was flabbergasted. “Why didn’t you just tell him that two weeks ago?”
“Because,” replied Gandhi, “Two weeks ago I was still eating sweets myself. I could not ask him to stop eating sweets so long as I had not stopped eating sweets.”
So hopefully with telling this tale I’ve convinced you that, if you really want to have WOW Power, this is the single most important principle: Be the change you want to see in others.
This is how Gandhi put it, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him … We need not wait to see what others do.”