You will never be a leader.
You won’t get that promotion. The bonus and salary increase you expect will be given to someone else. Your product won’t change the world. Your idea won’t go viral. Your organization will fade into history. The legacy you leave will be forgotten. And a generation from now no one will even know your name.
You’ve had these thoughts before. The voices in your head are relentless. It’s not competition that trips you up. It’s not the unexpected or unavoidable that bring you down. It’s the constant self-talk of unsatisfied desire, unrealized dreams, and unreasonable expectations.
At some point, every leader faces it. We struggle to increase our influence. We hope to enlarge our territory. You see it so clearly. Why can’t others?
What if I told you the path to greater influence isn’t about growing influence at all?
It’s about growing capacity.
Every fear fades when we are confident we have the capacity to face it. I play a game with my children. It’s like hide-and-seek only we play in the dark and I have a flashlight. I hide. They seek. They squeal with delight when I jump out and scare them. But it’s not the same for my older kids. They’ve learned my best hiding places. They know that when I jump out nothing dire will happen. They’re big enough now to get away when I chase them or keep me from tickling them if I catch them. Their capacity has increased. And for them, that’s a game changer.
Increasing your capacity is a game changer for you. To increase your capacity you must:
Passion is contagious. It drives an individual or organization to go further than they imagined possible. Passion is the fuel that inspires action. Influence will grow around those things about which you passionately care.
It’s not the devil that’s in the details. It’s the leader who cares passionately enough to see the significance of those details. There are two businesses in my community. Both make great food. One has an eye for detail. The other is less concerned about things like cleanliness or customer satisfaction. One company is an international success. The other struggles to break out of a local market. For them, opening another store won’t increase their influence. But increasing their capacity to observe deeply certainly will.
Increasing your capacity to think clearly is more difficult than you might imagine. Distractions fight for your attention. We stumble when we give primary effort to secondary concerns. As your capacity to care passionately grows and you begin to observe deeply the details of your dream, you begin to think clearly about the path ahead. Priorities come into focus. Obstacles shrink in size. Not because they’re insubstantial, but because they are the next milestone in your story of success. Thinking clearly is about the will to focus and the patience to act at the opportune time.
The more clearly you think, the more effectively you will communicate. Passion without description is a fire that burns. Passion with a focus on details and the clear thought of intentional action is a fire that refines. If you can’t articulate your passion then what you have isn’t passion. It’s raw emotion. You know what you feel. Not what you think. To bring people with you, they have to feel your passion and know your thoughts. Increase your capacity to use words to describe a preferred future and discover an ever-growing number of people who will join your journey.
It’s not a to-do list. It’s an intentional plan to expose yourself to that which ignites your passion. To remove those things that distract from thinking clearly. To educate yourself in ways that challenge your thinking, help you see in greater detail and articulate your message more clearly.
Your capacity determines your reach. Grow capacity. Grow influence.