If you want to grow as a leader, you are going to have to put in the same effort as a great athlete or a great chef. The way forward is not going to be easy. Becoming a great leader, a great athlete, or a great chef takes more than desire or even knowledge. It takes effort. It takes practice. It takes hard work. It takes doing what you need to do on days you don’t feel like doing it.
To grow you have to break a sweat. Growth—going beyond where you currently are—requires you to get uncomfortable and sweat.
When most people head to the gym, they realize that to get any better, any stronger, or anymore fit, they will have to push past what is comfortable. Sweat and discomfort help us get fit. The same is true when it comes to leadership. To grow as a leader, you have to be willing to sweat and do uncomfortable things.
In other words, reading a book will not make you a Leader of Character. To become a great leader, you must become a great worker. No one ever gets in shape by reading a fitness magazine or by going to the gym once. We get in shape by actually working hard consistently. You need to do more than read the principles in a book. You need to DO them.
You have to DO what you want to BE!
One of the simplest truths in the world is that we will never become good at anything unless we actually do that thing. Good intentions and the desire to be good at something are never enough to get us to the point where we are actually good.
The path to becoming a Leader of Character may be new and may seem hard. Realize, though, that new things typically seem difficult. But if we never try tackling something that’s new, we will never become anything beyond who we already are. Everything of value is hard before it gets easy. We must get started and then practice doing it until we become proficient. And to become truly great at something, we must practice over an extended period of time until that skill becomes a habit. It must become part of who we are to the point where it is almost an unconscious behavior. The great free-throw shooters in basketball don’t think about the mechanics of shooting a ball while they put it into the air. They just shoot because their mechanics have become habitual due to practice, practice, practice.
When it comes to becoming a person of character, much less a leader who exhibits character, you must master the small steps first. As Winston Churchill observed many years ago:
“Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones.”
That is how we become good at anything. That is how great athletes or great chefs become great. They practice. They strive to master the small steps, not just the big ones. And that is how we will become Leaders of Character, by practicing the Courage, Humility, Integrity, Selflessness, Duty and Positivity that Leaders of Character have developed into habits.