Inspirational Leaders Challenge Themselves

Dr. Purushothaman
December 17, 2013

If, like many of my colleagues and clients, you want to be a better leader - even a more inspirational leader - you need to keep challenging yourself. The best leaders are the best people... and only by challenging yourself can you be your best. When you're tempted to pull back and ride the tide, focus on some of the things the world's best purveyors of inspirational leadership think about all the time.

"When the going gets tough, the tough get going." This age-old adage is precisely correct. I've often written about the differences between two overall types of people in the world: Victims, who wait for things to happen to them, and Entrepreneurs, who make things happen for themselves and those around them, every day. Victimhood is easy; entrepreneurship is challenging. But at times like these, when things are very tough all over the world and ready to get much tougher, the world's best hope comes from the people who take on the challenge of entrepreneurship. Some Entrepreneurs own their own business - some simply exude their entrepreneurial spirit in the service of others - but all take the personal responsibility to challenge themselves, and those around them as well. Those are the people others look to for inspirational leadership.

The best prescription for worry is action. This is another tried-and-true axiom of inspirational leadership. As tough as things are, don't give in to your inner Victim by sitting around and worrying about how tough things are. Worry is, in essence, negative goal-setting, and it's the key time-consumer of Victims. When you worry, you're imagining a negative future, and your fear paralyzes you into just the sort of inaction that helps hasten that dark future. Entrepreneurs never think that way, and your inner Entrepreneur compels you to action. The Entrepreneur imagines a great future, despite an acute awareness of the same obstacles and difficulties that freeze the Victim. In contrast, though, the Entrepreneur's general tendency toward optimism compels her toward just the sort of action that defeats the obstacles and hastens the positive future. If you think about it, the leaders who've inspired you most have been people of action, and have rarely (if ever) been frozen by worry.

Finally, inspirational leaders are not only willing to take on life's toughest challenges, they relish the opportunity to do so. It's almost as though they do things precisely BECAUSE they are hard! Why? Because the inspirational leader's entrepreneurial spirit drives him to be the best he can be, regardless of the results he gets. He expects Life to hand him nothing... he expects his luck to be hard... and he expects to win the battle anyway. That's a key part of what makes the inspirational leader so inspirational.

It's about your mindset. We all have both the Victim and the Entrepreneur within us, and none of us is always at her best. But check yourself out. If you're not challenging yourself these days... if you're sitting around worrying about how bad things are... you're listening to the wrong voice inside you. So change your mind, and change your life. Find a tall mountain, believe you can climb it, and then start climbing. Your attitude really does determine your altitude, and with the right spirit of challenge, you'll rise to the top.

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