Despite the dubious grammar, the Popeye cartoon is an excellent example of that life defining moment when true leaders take up their calling and make a difference. It is that situation that a leader is willing to do absolutely anything to change, despite the personal cost to him or herself. A moment when great leaders leap into action with an unbridled enthusiasm, focus and passion that inspires others to take up the cause and follow them into battle against injustice or bravely march into unchartered territory.
Robert Quinn writes extensively on the subject of leadership. Quinn has a theory called the Fundamental State of Leadership Theory. According to him, when a leader is driven by a powerful passion, he or she often enters a different state of mind. This is where you care so much about results and changing the situation that you begin to lead on a whole different level. It is during this state that:
- You surrender your ego because the cause cannot afford your pride.
- You open yourself to new ideas and input because the cause is more important than you having to invent all the new ideas.
- You focus and concentrate on higher levels because the cause demands it.
- You take risks that you would not normally take because you have to; there is too much at stake.
- Your creativity kicks up a notch and you engage your team members on a whole different level because you are catapulted into this leadership state of mind.
- Your sense of urgency ennobles your leadership and moves it to a different level.
For leaders that have not reached that Fundamental State of Leadership yet, it is never too late. Don’t give up! Keep exposing your mind and heart to the needs in your family, community and organization and there will come a moment in time where the angst in you will move you into action. Once you have found that cause, please don’t medicate it by shifting your focus onto other things. Feed it! Keep exposing yourself to those situations that grab you at the throat and keep you up at nights, until you get to that point where you like Popeye say, “This is all I can stands, I can’t stands no more!”.
For those leaders that have found their cause and are leading in this area, it is important to remember – that thing that gets to you, can end up wrecking you if you allow pessimism to take over. Leaders cannot let hope die and have to nurture the self-belief that they can make a difference. This is where self-leadership and motivation is so important. Keep hope alive because everyone takes their cue from you. If you are hunched over and beaten down, if hope dies in a leader, it is game set and match, the cause is done.
I would like to close with a question “What can’t you stand?” What is it that creates that firestorm in you? You will know what it is, when you see it, when you hear it, when you are around it, it creates this emotion in you, it stirs your passion and it makes you stay awake at night. If you know what it is – now is the time to step up!