First Pursuits Take You Farthest
I still remember the moment I first saw the girl who eventually became my wife. I was 13 years old. I remember her hair, her shoes, her dress, her eyes, and a smile that still devastates me. I was 19 when we married. I’ve been pursuing her ever since.
I pursued big dreams, back then. I closed my eyes and saw myself on stage giving dynamic presentations. I wanted to changed people’s minds and lives. Today, my opportunities to make a difference exceed my expectations, but I still pursue that dream.
Everyone wants to love and be loved. Everyone wants to matter. Beyond that…
Leadership’s first pursuits:
- Character before techniques. Discipline, integrity, transparency, and authenticity come before strategies. Skill without character is a disaster.
- Kindness. Influence requires kindness especially when making tough choices.
- Forgiveness. Forgive every offense. You’ll give yourself to people who turn on you. Let it go. You may never forget, but always act out of kindness rather than bitterness.
- Forgiveness again. You’ll disappoint yourself. Let it go and move forward. Cling to your best hopes for yourself.
- Personal development. I spent too much time developing technical knowledge and not enough developing leadership skills. Technical knowledge matters more at the beginning of your career. Eventually, technical knowledge gives way to leadership and people skills.
- Listen to your nobility. I don’t always like what I see in my heart. I see fear, anger, and selfishness. I also find courage, compassion, and profound longings to be useful. Follow the goodness in your heart.
- Do what makes you proud. We’re all taught to seek the approval of others. Stop working for approval. Bring joy to others from wells of strength not need. Remember #2 above.
- Gratitude. Thankfulness tempers arrogance.
What’s on your list of first pursuits?
What should come off our list of first pursuits?
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Thanks Dan, precise inspiration when I needed it the most.
Best wishes, Bhupendra.
Hi Dan really nothing to add to your inspiring post just to say I also met my soulmate in 8th grade at age of 13 and also married at 19. I have never looked back and awake each morning with a prayer: “God thank you for today, please bless my work and play.” Have a great week Dan.
I want to keep being like you. 🙂
Aren’t these the soft skills that are hardest to acquire?!
Or they’re ingrain and are to be discovered / realised?
Maybe a little of both…
What do you think?
There’s this lie called ‘my personal value’
Dan, the phrase “bring joy to others from wells of strength, not need,” really resonates today. The whole post is great, but there’s something about that statement that sums up much that’s wrong about leadership. There’s a pervading sense of quiet desperation to most workplaces, and most leaders seem to have more fear than confidence. Could it be because too many of us hang our self-worth on the ever-moving target of the approval of the group? There will always be someone who wants more, or wants something different, or just wants to be spiteful. But we know when we’re doing our best work, and if that’s what drives us so much of the energy we spend on angst can be redirected.
Great stuff on forgiveness too. Everyone needs it, so you either give it or end up holding grudges against everyone.
As always, your words are genius!
Good Morning Greg,
Thank you for sharing your response to this post and the phrase you mention.
Personally, I tried bringing joy to others because I needed their approval way too long. In the end its not a happy life. It’s not productive either.
Sometimes I swing from caring too much to caring too little. The “I don’t care what anyone thinks” isn’t where we want to go, either. It’s reactionary.
You observation on self-worth bring healthy balance to an area where it’s easy to swing too far.
Thank you for being open. There is a kind tone in your comment.
Love your post, Dan. I emailed a copy to my son, Great advice for a successful life.
Thank you for an encouraging word, Jesse.
All the best in your travels this Spring.
I find compassion works everytime! I am still amazed at how somepeople can misuse personal enegy on grudges and anger. here in Norway we have an expression which says “lift your eyes/gaze” That way you can get a bigger picture – and it makes for a better view most times.
Weak leaders need anger to motivate them to action. Sometimes, the action is the right action but using anger often results in harshness rather than compassion.
Thanks for sharing your experience.
I appreciate the way you have discussed people before purpose. I do agree that intangible attributes provide more meaning to life than tangible attributes. I always believe doing things that make me proud. I would quote one example (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/14/opinion/why-i-am-leaving-goldman-sachs.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1) that I read yesterday. The person holding the top position in reputed fortune 500 companies left it because of its toxic and unethical culture. The good news is that he mentioned the same thing that you mention about feeling proud. He mentioned that his proudest moment of life was when he received scholarship to study in Stanford University. It clearly indicates that it is not the position that can provide pride but real achievement through your hard word and ethical way. I believe generosity is the great value that person should have. Integrity is another great pursuit for leaders. I always believe and act with humility, empathy, generosity and integrity.
Thanks for adding value to this conversation.
You always give me something to chew on. In this case, generosity. What a powerful and necessary quality. Generosity invites people to us and opens doors of influence. Thank you!
Great post once again!! Thanks for sharing a little about yourself, it says a lot…
I agree with all of the above and find those to be true… especially as I grow my leadership skills more and I also see the need for leadership skills over technical skills in this stage in my life and career. I love that you finished up the post with gratitude, must have a grateful heart…
Great conversation today as well.
One of the best posts you.ve done. It would be a good text to start the day with!
A real good post listing important first pursuits of leadership. Chasing your dreams with strong character is the key to success. However, I disagree on your saying that technical skills are more required in the beginning of a career followed by leadership and people management skills.
Technical skills can be functional knowledge & experience based on your core strength/ professional qualifications which needs to be supplemented with broad based knowledge of other business functions on a continuous basis if you want to succeed career-wise.
Leadership & people management skills are more of compulsion as you move up in corporate ladder. It’s a must and should be backed by solid performance individually and collectively in a consistent manner.
Great post! I almost stopped reading after the very first paragraph because it pulled at my heart strings. We are not all lucky enough to meet our life partner in grade school.
Love the focus on forgiveness. People always think forgiveness is for the other person, but it’s for you. Forgive and forget, but be wise, because business(building/establishing new relationships) must still go on.
Thanks for sharing!
l like that you re-enforced the great need to forgive. Often a poison that can disrupt or hi-jack any passion, creating a hard heart and a careful (not courageous) pursuit to see these passions come to fruition. We need to br free to live and give and love what we were made for! I long to see people ‘at risk’ brought out of harms way, empowered and then those with resources released to empower others. I am grateful to see this happening in my work and life. Always enjoy your insights! D
Great post, and based on it I am making my own first pursuits list.
Wonderful. I clicked the link for the picture and stayed for the post. 🙂 Forgiveness is something that is hard for me. I come by bitterness naturally through my mom, always looking to make sure we’re even with people. She called me today just to ask how much money I received from a guest at our wedding. Reason: She just received an invite to their son’s wedding. I asked her why it mattered, she said she was just curious. Translation = I’m not giving him more than they gave you.
WHY does it matter! She needs to be her and forgive the flaws in others. (in this case, her cheap friend’s cheapness) I’m not perfect, but at least I’m working on it. Great post 🙂
What’s on your list of first pursuits?
What should come off our list of first pursuits?
Dan, as you know I was unable to comment early this morning upon reading this post but I sent you a quick email to say how I thought it was a “homerun” of a post. I suppose that’s partially because it speaks to where I am right now, closer to 50 than 40 with children who are closer to 12th grade than kindergarten. For me, the “first pursuits” have always had to do with presence. That may sound hypocritical for a working mom to say that, but I have craved the ability to be with my children, and to share the little moments that won’t make it into any scrapbooks as much as the big moments that everyone knows about.
As far as “last pursuits,” I think the sooner we all incorporate our life experience in order to realize that saying and doing things that divide instead of unite (whether at home, work, church, or school) are futile and ultimately hurt us the worst, the better off we will be.
There’s something surreal about the whole post. Can nice guys really finish first? Many of today’s most powerful leaders would scoff at this post, discounting these “matters of the heart” as foolishness. One of the lesson here is to follow your heart, value who you truly are…Maybe success (as mesured by today’s values) will come or it may not come but in the grand scheme of things you have succeeded by being true to yourself and your values.