Living for Something Bigger than Yourself: The Obsession of Successful Leaders
Rise above self-obsession so you can live for something bigger than yourself.
You might be self-obsessed if you:
- Always know the “right” way.
- Can’t take criticism.
- Make excuses for your flaws, frailties, and failings.
- Drone on about yourself in conversations.
- Exaggerate your talents and achievements.
- Set unrealistic goals.
- Neglect peoples’ emotions.
- Interrupt often.
- Refuse to take responsibility.
- Think about yourself most of the time.
Obsession and success:
Steve Jobs was obsessed over simplicity. Jobs said, “The main thing in our design is that we have to make things intuitively obvious.”
Steve Jobs coded video games at Atari. Walter Isaacson wrote, “The only instructions for Atari’s Star Trek game were: ‘1. Insert quarter. 2. Avoid Klingons.’”
Apple’s first marketing brochure led with, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” (1977)
Obsession is hunger:
“While on top of Everest, I looked across the valley towards the great peak Makalu and mentally worked out a route about how it could be climbed.” Sir Edmund Hillary
Obsession is nagging hunger. It’s hard to imagine climbing the tallest peak in the world and plotting another climb while standing on the summit.
Self-obsession means you’re living below great aspiration or worthy cause. An obsession with results, for example, is too low for you – unless it motivates you to develop others.
Someone might ask, “How can I overcome self-obsession?” (That’s the question self-obsession asks.)
The question is, “How might you give yourself to something bigger than yourself?” You might evaluate your use of time, talent, and treasure to determine if you’re giving yourself to something that elevates life.
We become our best self when we serve something bigger than our self.
Obsession for leaders:
Great dancers obsess over dancing. But do great leaders obsess about leadership?
George Colony, CEO of Forrester preaches customer obsession. How does that sit with you?
What’s your obsession?
Billionaire Investor Says Follow Your Obsession, Not Your Passion (Entrepreneur)
Great leaders love their job. They are obsessed about leading.
Self- obsessed or self -absorbed leaders have a self-confidence issue that controls their thoughts and behavior.
Thanks Paul. I’ve been curious about any distinction between obsessing about leading cp. obsessing about contributing??
It may be surprising to think about a person who seems confident but is actually fearful.
Dan, the distinction between obsessions about leading and contributing could be the difference between focusing on means and ends. Leadership is a method to accomplish ends — ideally something much larger than any of us. Self absorbed leaders obsess about themselves and their “leadership,” while servant leaders obsess about creating conditions that allow their teams to flourish and accomplish great things — much like Edmund Hilary in your previous post. He relished in the accomplishment, but never thought about promoting himself as a result. In writing to the Philippians, Paul wrote about an attitude of humility that considers others more important than themselves. I believe it’s that kind of attitude that leads to “larger than life” accomplishments.
Fascinating observation. I take it that the means is contributing. Is that what you’re thinking about?
Dan, I was referring to leadership as the means — not as an end in itself. Leadership is a method for motivating, encouraging, and enabling teams to contribute to their ultimate goals and objectives. Just like a craftsman maintains and refines his or her tools, a leader hones his or her leaderships skills. To continue the analogy, the craftsman takes pride in what he or she builds; the leader in what the team accomplishes (contribution).
Of course! Thanks
My own mantra (in design, mgmt. and leadership) has been similar:
Elegance is the fewest choices which align the simplest means to resolve the complexity in our circumstances.
Get people to understand these goals, and they will show you how to make it so.
Thanks Rurbane. From a leadership perspective, I feel like passing your mantra to others is essential. In a way, we all march to the beat of the same drummer. (Even though we have different motivations.)
What’s your obsession? Detail, focus, documentation and I walk my talk (no hypocrisy here). It’s too bad that “most” others do not see the simplicity and good taking that approach has in life.
Thanks for sharing your obsession. I’ve been wondering if an obsession causes happiness or unhappiness. I think both. What are your thoughts on that?
Dan: My obsessions are just part of me, who I am, how I respond to the world. Happiness is IMHO a choice we make each day. My happiness is based on comparison; my ancestral heritage gives me comparison that my life is so much easier in many ways than those before me. I choose to be happy because first I know God/Jesus walk with me every step this “flawed” man takes. I choose to be happy because I am loved by family and I love back. I choose to be happy because I work at sometime I enjoy and I give value back to others. I choose to be happy because I’ve raised two wonderful children (now adults) and I have an awesome high energy handsome grandson that unfortunately the virus has disrupted physical contact with (he’s in Texas, I’m in California). So I make a choice to be happy.
Thanks Roger. It seems great to choose happiness instead of letting circumstances control it. It feels like our attitude about situations is important.
I was thinking about a person who is obsessed with details. It can be a source of happiness when things are going well or a source of frustration when details fall through the cracks. But, when you choose happiness the situation doesn’t matter as much.
I enjoyed your line about becoming our best selves when we serve something bigger than ourselves. I find this to be a main pillar of leadership. I have been reading a book that talks about leadership versus management and i find that it woks here too. When a leader obsesses over his/her own development within a structure and not the development of those around them then that is not really leadership. I believe a leader has to be obsessed about the goals they are attempting to achieve, but also be obsessed with seeing the broader picture.