WISDOM LEADING: The Conversation

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What If Inspiring Others is a Foolís Chore?

Dr. Foster Mobley // Sports, Wisdom Leading

A default value is a setting automatically assigned to a piece of software or electronic device so that, if someone like me makes a dumb choice, it resets to the way it's supposed to work. Sadly, the default value of many leaders dealing with underperformance is a cult-like devotion to the concept of motivation - that is, how do we better motivate others (or inspire, convince, tease out the next level of potential) we believe are capable of more? Want proof? How about the millions of acres of forests stripped of trees to make the countless number of books on the topic, or the tens of thousands of hours of motivational speakers in front of audiences, talking to them about personal power and changing their lives? Virtually no one has been immune. With all that, shouldn't everybody's life be changed by now? Shouldn't we all be leaping tall buildings in a single bound? I'm a sucker for every Rudy movie too, but in my opinion, that "superman" description doesn't explain how most of us behave. Motivation is important, vital in fact. But the prime directive* of human behavior is purpose, not words shouted from the outside of us. Meb Keflexighi, yesterday's winner of the Boston Marathon, didn't need much "pumping up" from a vocal leader. His winning drive came from within himself, from his strong will to win and his passion to honor the victims of the 2013 bombing whose names he had written on his race bib. Each of us has passions and visions and dreams. They may be a little dusty, or small, but they are there. Wise leaders help others reconnect to what's important to them (and possibly forgotten). The "inspirational leader" to me is someone who helps others remove things that are obscuring their own visions and purpose, not someone standing on the outside providing the perfect words to pump them up. What's in your way of full passion and performance? What role can you play in helping others reconnect to theirs? * Prime directive = the most important rule or law, which must be obeyed above all others.

A default value is a setting automatically assigned to a piece of software or electronic device so that, if someone like me makes a dumb choice, it resets to the way it's supposed to work. Sadly, the default value of many leaders dealing with underperformance is a cult-like devotion to the concept of motivation - that is, how do we better motivate others (or inspire, convince, tease out the next level of potential) we believe are capable of more?

Want proof? How about the millions of acres of forests stripped of trees to make the countless number of books on the topic, or the tens of thousands of hours of motivational speakers in front of audiences, talking to them about personal power and changing their lives? Virtually no one has been immune. With all that, shouldn't everybody's life be changed by now? Shouldn't we all be leaping tall buildings in a single bound?

I'm a sucker for every Rudy movie too, but in my opinion, that "superman" description doesn't explain how most of us behave.

Motivation is important, vital in fact. But the prime directive* of human behavior is purpose, not words shouted from the outside of us. Meb Keflexighi, yesterday's winner of the Boston Marathon, didn't need much "pumping up" from a vocal leader. His winning drive came from within himself, from his strong will to win and his passion to honor the victims of the 2013 bombing whose names he had written on his race bib.

Each of us has passions and visions and dreams. They may be a little dusty, or small, but they are there. Wise leaders help others reconnect to what's important to them (and possibly forgotten). The "inspirational leader" to me is someone who helps others remove things that are obscuring their own visions and purpose, not someone standing on the outside providing the perfect words to pump them up.

What's in your way of full passion and performance? What role can you play in helping others reconnect to theirs?

* Prime directive = the most important rule or law, which must be obeyed above all others.

2 Comments // Permalink
Current Comments.
  1. Stephanie said:

    Re: "Wise leaders help others reconnect to what's important to them (and possibly forgotten). The "inspirational leader" to me is someone who helps others remove things that are obscuring their own visions and purpose, not someone standing on the outside providing the perfect words to pump them up."

    Your daughter does this so well!!

  2. Stephanie said:

    Re: "Wise leaders help others reconnect to what's important to them (and possibly forgotten). The "inspirational leader" to me is someone who helps others remove things that are obscuring their own visions and purpose, not someone standing on the outside providing the perfect words to pump them up."

    Your daughter does this so well!!

    Congratulations, by the way!!


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Dr. Foster Mobley

Trusted advisor and coach to admired executives globally for 3 decades, Thought leader on wisdom-based approaches to breakthrough leading, "Lead Coach" for Deloitte's experienced and high potential leader development, Team performance advisor to two NCAA championship teams