Leadership training is successful when it is seen as an evolving situation. What we were so sure of in the past, may not be true today. If you can change your mind about people, you’ll be able to accomplish what you want.
A woman in a café left her table for a few moments and returned to discover a hobo eating her meal. She sat down, glaring at him while he ate her lunch. She was furious until he offered to share his cup of tea. Surprised, she accepted the tea and began to change her mind about him.
Then she noticed that the bag of groceries she had left on the chair at her table was missing. Immediately she changed her mind again.
“This guy is nothing but a thief,” she fumed.
Eventually he finished the meal and rose to leave. When he left his seat, the woman could see past him to the next table.
She saw that in the chair was her bag of groceries and on the table was her meal. Earlier, when she had come back to her seat, she had returned to the wrong table. He was eating his own lunch. He did not steal her groceries. She created the whole incident in her own mind!
The mind is analogous to an empty glass. Whatever we fill the glass with, it becomes that. If we fill it with dirty water, it becomes dirty. If we add salt, it becomes salty. If we pour champagne into the glass, it becomes bubbly. Similarly, if we fill the mind with a powerful, constructive thought, that becomes our experience.
If we think something is delightful, it is delightful. If we think it is going to be overwhelming, there’s a good chance that it will be. The woman in the café thought that the man was eating her meal. The moment she had that thought, she experienced all the upset that the situation would induce if it were true — even though it wasn’t.
Think and Become Great
The mind can create any situation. When we are in charge, we have the opportunity to create the situation we desire. We can create an atmosphere that attracts people like bees to honey or we can drive them away. It is our choice, always.
What we choose to think and to focus on determines the outcome of our situation. It is especially important to remember this when the chips are down. Any leader can shine when the team is winning. It takes an outstanding leader to inspire employees to climb an uphill path.
Abraham Lincoln was arguably the best President of the United States. As a young man, Abraham Lincoln received less than one year of formal education. He spent his childhood working on a farm.
While he was plowing the fields, he memorized Aesop’s fables. The moral of one of the fables is, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
Lincoln filled his mind with this wisdom. Years later, during the Civil War between the states, Lincoln declared, “A nation divided against itself cannot stand.” Lincoln used the wisdom he imbibed as a youth to save the union.
Our attitude makes the difference. It determines whether the group feels a situation is difficult or that it is challenging yet worthwhile. How many times have we heard the leader say “We have so much work and we don’t have enough people. What are we going to do?” (Perhaps we have been the leader saying this.) If the leader chooses this point of view, what will everyone else think?
This does not mean that when we are feeling discouraged that we stand up and say, “Everything is rosy.” Never! People know when they are being lied to. When we feel bleak, we can turn to what inspires us about the work. We can change our own mind before we spread our discouragement to others.
The challenge to the leader is to remain focused on what is great and inspiring throughout the project. At any moment, the mind can pull us up or take us down. The attitude in the mind of the leader affects the whole group, so we have to be careful.
This is an excerpt from my book, To Lead is to Serve in the chapter: Change Your Mind. – Shar McBee