The 'Why' of Leadership

Image of Eric Easter


April 7, 2014

Research indicates that leaders with a strong need to achieve (as opposed to a strong need for power) get the best results. They are more humble, more willing to accept criticism, admit mistakes, share credit and are more understanding. Achievers are very competitive, but it is more about doing their best and becoming better rather than simply winning. Achievers love good competition—it makes them better. Winning is great, but it must be done honorably and by the rules.

Achievers by nature are goal driven. They hold themselves to high standards of accountability. As a result, many achievers are susceptible to fear, worry and anxiety. Will I achieve my goal? What if I fall short? Am I missing anything that might keep me from my goal? While these are questions that need to be asked, they do not need to be dwelt upon to the point of distraction. It can become counterproductive and unnecessary. The focus on the goal can be so complete that the potential of the present moment is missed.

Fear, worry and anxiety are all about living in the future. Managing the moment is all about living in the present. If the achiever does their best at managing every moment, the future will take care of itself. Worrying about something you have no control over is a waste of the few precious moments we have on this planet. Yes, we all want to achieve our goals. However, the odds of success increase markedly if we go with the flow and then do our best. What more can anyone do? Fear, worry and anxiety take our eye off the ball and add no value. Being in the moment, in our zone, focuses our attention like a laser on what is happening right now. That focus is what allows us to maximize the potential of the moment and better shape our future.

Life is a series of moments. Managing the present moment not controlling the next is the goal. Trying to control the uncontrollable is a frustrating way to live a life. We can make some decisions that seemingly put us “in control” for awhile. However, change is inevitable and if control is our goal then embracing change is not an option. Change will happen, and if we are not looking for it, it will catch us unawares. Worse yet, we recognize the change but deny that it is happening because we don’t want to lose control.

What happens next is unpredictable. So let it be unpredictable. If I knew for certain that a given stock was going to rise 5% tomorrow—I would become a very rich man. But I don’t know for sure what is going to happen. So my best bet is to do my homework today and decide whether to buy the stock or not. This is the best I can do. I then react to what happens tomorrow by doing my best. And so it goes.

Managing the moment is not easy. It takes mental discipline and most likely the breaking of some not so good habits. Understanding that the goal is not to control the future, but rather to do our best and get as much from every moment as possible, is not what many of us have been taught. But a happier life, and better results, comes from making the most of every moment.

Manage this moment and let what happens, happen. Then manage the next one, and the next…