Leaders, What is Your “One Thing?”

Leaders, What is Your “One Thing?”

Leadership is a rare commodity. It’s almost impossible to imitate. Competitors can only imitate what you do, but they can’t imitate who you are.

How do you define a successful leader?

A great leader is someone who inspires others to greatness.

This simple definition is all-encompassing. Leaders do not fit a single profile. Leaders are not like t-shirts: one size fits all. They are not robots. Different kinds of leaders can be effective.

What competency do great leaders have? They know their main objective: the “one thing” that drives every decision, every methodology.

What’s your “One Thing?” It is your passion, what makes life worth living for you. This one thing becomes your true north, your inner compass, your centerline.


I call it having a clear “Life Philosophy”.

Steve Jobs defined his vision:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. Most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

If we don’t have a clear life philosophy, we stop thinking, we stop asking questions and we don’t understand the “why” behind things.


Having a clear life philosophy has two advantages.

You need to know where you are going, or life will take you somewhere you don’t want to go. For example, living life is like navigating an old sailing ship on the high seas. If you drop the sails, have no compass or captain, you are driven by wind, currents and storms. You drift aimlessly.

When you live purposefully, you follow the captain. You know your tools, and sail using a rudder, a compass, reading the stars. You can sail through storms, into the wind and overcome obstacles.

People sense your authenticity and passion. They identify your purpose, inner conviction, honesty and transparency. Being a purposeful leader gives you freshness and joy. Such character is attractive and compelling.


How do you develop your life philosophy?

Think deeply. Know yourself and understand life’s principles. We often depend on others to think for us. We listen to media, politicians, preachers and friends to tell us what to think and how to determine right and wrong.

Thinking deeply requires simplicity, silence and solitude.

What can you eliminate in your life to slow down and focus? What habits clutter your thinking?

How much media can you pare down? How much time do you devote to television, internet, social media, e-mails? Do you look at your iPhone 150 times per day?

Silence requires us to quiet our minds, talk less and listen more.

We need to listen to others, but also to our inner voice. We need to be spiritual people.

Solitude is essential to thinking deeply. You spend time with the person you want to get to know. To know yourself, you must spend time with yourself, meditate and allow yourself to be comfortable with being alone.

Peel back layers of pretense and self-delusion and learn who you truly are.

By the time we are adults, we form a “protective shield.” Psychologists call it “confirmation bias.”

Confirmation bias happens when we filter reality through our prejudices, ignoring evidence that challenges or refutes what we believe and eagerly accepting evidence that confirms what we believe.

Confirmation bias becomes a form of “self-delusion” Author Adam Smith writes that self-delusion is the “source of half the disorders of human life,” creating multiple problems in human existence.

President Lincoln struggled with the injustices in the South. He knew the Confederate leaders. How could so many reasonable, educated and godly men defend the atrocities of slavery and its injustice?

Confirmation bias. They saw what they wanted to see, and disregarded the rest. Mentors, spouses, books, self-evaluation, and psychological testing all help us see the reflection of our “true selves.”


Finally, we need to “feed the wolf” as leaders.

We must understand the governing laws of life and learn how to utilize them to our advantage. There are laws of nature, economics, and spirituality. If we don’t clearly understand these laws, we will find ourselves fighting against them.

Here is just one example:

An old Cherokee told his grandson, “My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, lies and ego. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy and truth.”

The boy thought about it and asked, “Grandfather, which wolf wins?”

The old man quietly replied, “The one you feed.”

What you feed is what will grow.

You are either going to feed good or evil, virtue or vice.

Be a focused leader. Think deeply. Know yourself. Practice virtue and integrity. Those who follow will bless you.

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