4 Surprising Realities That Infuse Meaning into Leadership

Organizations can’t give leadership meaning. Bosses and colleagues can’t give it.

Meaningful leadership is your responsibility alone.

Meaning is energy to run a painful race.

Meaning is energy to run a painful race. Image of a person running down a lane of trees.

4 surprising realities that infuse meaning into leadership:

#1. Responsibility.

Do something where failure matters.

You cozy up to oblivion when you reject responsibility for meaningful things. One day you’ll look around and feel empty.

Someone said, “Not my monkey. Not my circus.” It is your circus. Don’t take everyone’s monkey, but when you grab a monkey grab one that matters.

Do noble things.

#2. Engagement.

Disengagement leads to oblivion. A person trying to do as little as possible ends up lonely and disenchanted. Getting by is going down wearing a blindfold.

Engagement means overcoming friction. It’s easier to do nothing than something in the short-term.

Hiding in your office and avoiding challenging situations moves you toward a blackhole.

#3. Control.

Choose behaviors that make things better. Leadership is trivial when you focus on things outside your control. Frivolous actions produce disappointing results.

You move toward meaningful leadership when your actions matter.

#4. Identity.

Identity determines behavior. The Stanford Prison Experiment demonstrated the power of self-perceptions. Participants who perceived themselves as guards became cruel.

Know yourself by embracing what you know about yourself.

Don’t ignore frailties. You know your own pain. Life is short, screwing up is inevitable, your strengths produce results and your weaknesses hold you back.

You know what you love and what you hate. What does that say about who you are?

Choose how you show up based on the realities you know about yourself.


You didn’t get up this morning wishing to be trivial. You yearn for relevance. The challenge is hammering it out.

You collide with personal hell when you fill life with frivolities.

Which of the above ideas most applies to you today?

What would you add to the above list?

Still curious: