Benjamin Zander is an incredible conductor, teacher and speaker. He believes strongly in the Art of Possibility, which is the subject of a book he co-wrote with his wife.
Towards the end of a talk on music and passion at TED2008 (around the 17 minute mark in the video), he asks the audience “How would you walk, how would you talk if you were thinking ‘3% of the population likes classical music. How do we move it to 4%…’ vs How would you walk, how would you talk if you thought ‘Everybody loves classical music! It’s just that they haven’t found out about it yet!’”
This statement stopped me dead in my tracks. Yes, I enjoy classical music. But what was profound to me was the fact that this applies to more than just your taste in music. As a leader, we can limit ourselves and our teams by short-changing by our goals (expanding 1%), or we can set our teams free by reaching for the stars (everybody loves it)!
Ben goes on to state that he suddenly realized one day that his job was to awaken the possibility that lay in other people. So, how do you tell whether you’re doing that or not? You look into their eyes! If their eyes are shining, you know you’re doing it. If their eyes are not shining, you get to ask a question. “Who am I being that my followers’ eyes are not shining?” Ben’s definition of success isn’t about wealth and fame and power. It’s about how many eyes are shining around him.
As a leader, are your followers’ eyes shining? Are they nodding their heads in agreement as they hang on your every word? Have they embraced a passion for your shared purpose that will enable them to reach for the stars? If not, who are you being that your followers’ eyes aren’t shining? And what are you going to do about it?