Imagine standing on a high peak in the midst of a forest. You are hunting for deer. You slowly scan the distance with binoculars glued to your face focusing in on any slight movements. You see a buck and you begin to track where it might be heading. What do you do next?
Next? You Create a Plan.
If we had to stop right there and go over this scenario what you would find is a great conceptual understanding of what a leader is. A leader first and foremost is a mindset turned on by an idea and the first person that mindset has to convince and lead is YOU. Without the desire for something that you don’t have presently, leadership can’t exist. You need that desire for that idea.
Whether you are an athlete trying to be captain for your team, corporate executive in an industry or coach running your own program, you must have these first 3 things: Vision, Tracking, Planning.
Every person who is leading has to catch a view of the thing for which they are looking. For most leaders they are looking for excellence, but you will have to find what excellence looks like in your environment. For student-athletes we all know that looks like: dedicated work ethic, timeliness, full energy and passion for what you are learning etc. What does excellence look like for you?
When you find what you are looking for you have to track how it moves in its environment – the terrain. A great thing to do is find books, blogs, videos that you can engage with that shows you what to mirror. You have to take the initiative of getting that information. Why? Because it’s the leader’s mind that has to make the decisions based on this information.
When you find out where you are heading and what the terrain looks like, you have to make a plan for how you are going to get there. Sometimes it is this part where people who aim to be leaders fall short. They want to “pre-know” every step on the way but all they really have is a compass…and that’s all you need really. All you need is a plan that will lead you in the direction of what you are hunting for.
The truth is that a leader needs one more thing. And this is the most important. ACTION. Be willing to act on the plan that you made. Nothing in life is certain and neither will be the plan you just created but you must take action! Your plan doesn’t cover the scraped knees, the hunger, the injuries, the tiredness nor the disillusionment that comes with long journeys but you can’t be afraid of it.
A leader is a decision maker. Not just to make random decisions but to make decisions that always lead us forward back on path. We trust this leader even when we’re tired.
Hopefully we can do the same for ourselves, since we first must lead US!
I also advocate life planning with the athletes with whom I work. They often think that life planning is too much to think of but I see life planning as nothing more than hunting for happiness and significance. Time to put the binoculars down, time to stop talking about what you see you’ll be in the future and LEAD YOURSELF! Then you’ll be able to lead others.