Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The One Thing - Discovering Your Passion as a Leader

The One Thing – Discovering Your Passion as a Leader
By Doug Dickerson

It’s the classic scene from the movie City Slickers starring Billy Crystal and Jack Palance. Palance and Crystal are riding slowly across the range on horseback, discussing life and love.

Palance plays a sly cowpoke, while Crystal is a novice from Los Angeles who has paid for a two-week dude ranch vacation. Crystal gets more than he bargained for in the process and learns something about himself. Consider the following dialogue that takes place between them:
To watch the clip click on the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2k1uOqRb0HU

Palance: “How old are you? Thirty-eight?
Crystal: “Thirty-nine.”
Palance: “Yeah. You all come out here about the same age. Same problems. Spend fifty weeks a year getting knots in your rope then-then you think two weeks up here will untie them for you. None of you get it. Do you know what the secret of life is?”
Crystal: “No, what?”
Palance: “This.” (Holds up index finger)
Crystal: “Your finger?”
Palance: “One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and everything else don’t mean s-.”
Crystal: “That’s great, but what’s that one thing?”
Palance: “That’s what you’ve got to figure out.”

In his book, Halftime – Changing Your Game Plan from Success to Significance, Bob Buford says, “Most people never discover their “one thing.” But part of what is so unsettling about approaching the end of the first half of our lives is that we know it is out there somewhere.”

Finding your “one thing”- your passion as a leader, will be life-transforming. As Buford says, “It is discovering what’s true about yourself, rather than overlaying someone else’s truth on you or injecting someone else’s goals onto your personality.”

In discovering your one thing as a leader,it’s what you’ve got to figure out. Each person’s passion, gifts, and abilities are different, and where those God-given gifts take you is a personal journey.

I would however like to offer some practical insight in the form of questions as you seek to discover your passion as a leader.

First, what tugs at your heart? What tugs at your heart speaks of your humanity. Beneath the exterior shell that others see is something that stirs you. In leadership, what stirs your heart is the area in which you are going to be most effective. Your passion as a leader is developed by what moves you at your core.

What tugs at your heart will give you direction as a leader. Charles Parkhurst said, “The heart has eyes that the brain knows nothing of.” Discovering your passion as a leader is about following a passion that’s already there, it’s a cause greater than yourself. What is it?

Second, what is your gift? Identifying what tugs at your heart will propel you in the right direction. Understanding your gift is to know where you fit in the puzzle. No one person can do it all, discovering your passion as a leader is to know the one thing you are good at and then to do it to the best of your ability.

Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard said, “The thing is to understand myself, to see what God really wishes me to do…to find the idea for which I can live and die.” When you discover that passion as a leader your influence will transcend the identity of what you do. At this level your identity as a leader will be defined by the passion of your heart.

Finally, what is your purpose? Discovering your passion as a leader is found in understanding what tugs at your heart, knowing your gift, and knowing your purpose in life. Understanding your purpose leads to your plan – what you are prepared to do about it.

One of golf's immortal moments came when a Scotchman demonstrated the new game to President Ulysses Grant. Carefully placing the ball on the tee, he took a mighty swing. The club hit the turf and scattered dirt all over the President's beard and surrounding vicinity, while the ball placidly waited on the tee. Again the Scotchman swung, and again he missed. Our President waited patiently through six tries and then quietly stated, "There seems to be a fair amount of exercise in the game, but I fail to see the purpose of the ball.

Grant saw the value of exercise, but failed to see the purpose of the ball. In leadership, many see the value of leading, but fail to understand its grater purpose.

What is the one thing? That is what you have to figure out.

© 2009 Doug Dickerson

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