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Be The Beacon Your People Need

Be The Beacon Your People Need

Nelson Mandela was lauded as a courageous leader -- even when he was truly terrified. Like the time he astonished his bodyguard by calmly reading a newspaper while the plane he was flying on had engine failure.

Mandela himself, however, later confessed in private that he’d been truly terrified but refused to show it. Mandela knew that courage is a choice, and everyone can be courageous by learning to cope with your anxieties and fears every day. 

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MORE IDEAS FROM THE ARTICLE

Make Your Enemies Into Allies

Pointing out others’ mistakes rarely encourages them to change their behavior, and it certainly doesn’t help them learn anything. People aren’t driven by reason, but by emotion; so a public critique is far likelier to reflect poorly on you than it is to make them change their ways.

Abraham Lincoln was nearly forced into a duel for criticizing an opponent. His new policy became one of understanding what drove his opponents, accepting their shortcomings and going easy on the open criticism, eventually even turning some into friends. 

Recruit Remarkable Guides

Niccolò Machiavelli held that using advisors well begins with knowing one’s own weaknesses and selecting advisors to offset them. It’s also necessary to know how to solicit advice the right way.

For Machiavelli, that meant showing advisors he valued their honest opinion and would not punish them for giving it. But, at the end of the day, he was the one calling the shots.

Observe And Adapt To The Terrain

A leader needs to adapt to the situation. Study your environment and your competition to make the best of every opportunity.

Sun Tzu, counseled that a martial leader should observe the terrain to take advantage of its natural layout and stay alert for startled birds or beasts that might indicate an ambush. He also advised becoming a student of one's enemies, to know their signs of fatigue or desperation. 

Never Deviate From Your Values

A former slave inspired by the ideals of the French Revolution, Touissaint L’Ouverture defeated the European empires to found Haiti and expunged slavery from his colony.

Early in the revolution, L’Ouverture determined that he would never compromise on his ideal of complete abolition of slavery in the colony. L’Ouverture succeeded by getting clear on his cause and doing whatever was necessary to serve it, even if it meant fighting alongside European powers. 

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RELATED IDEAS

Taking The Offensive

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson defied the medical establishment to practice medicine as a woman in a time it was considered unacceptable. She found loopholes in the law and painstakingly assembled the necessary qualifications, eventually becoming the first woman to receive a medical degree.

Take the offensive simply by not taking no for an answer; by accomplishing what we have set our hearts on in the face of entrenched opposition.

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IDEAS

The one known as the 'father of modern management', Peter Drucker, came to the conclusion that the more one charges for providing others with his advice, the more the advice is valuable. So, if he could do it, maybe it is indeed worth giving this idea a chance.

  • Know your "noble cause." Jobs understood that if teams don’t find their work meaningful, they perceive challenging directives from a leader as arbitrary demands rather than a call to sacrifice for a higher purpose.
  • Tell your story early and often. If you can’t weave your ideas into a clear, compelling story, those ideas remain abstract words likely to be forgotten.
  • Push, but within boundaries. Make sure you have a clear end point and time line in mind before you go into "push" mode. Intense work with no clear end in sight is demoralizing.