The Sunday Mail
Milton Kamwendo Hunt for Greatness
There are things that you can do and there are things that you cannot do anything much about. If you can do something about a problem, it is a challenge. If you cannot do anything about the problem it is just a fact of life. Whatever happens you are more powerful than you think. In you are inexhaustible resources that you can access. You can do great things and shift the atmosphere. Look right, and you will see differently and access a world of unlimited greatness. You cannot stop birds from flying over your head, but you can stop them from building a nest on your head. It’s your choice and you are accountable for your life. You cannot stop hearing negative things, wherever you go there will be there but you can you can choose the channel you tune to. You cannot stop discouragement and despair from flying over your head, but you can stop filling your mind with horror messages. You cannot stop complainers from complaining, but you determine where you put your focus and the dialogue of your life. This does not mean that you are a victim and that you are powerless. Far from it! You can stop the flocks of birds of despair, hopelessness, desperation, helplessness, dismay or unhappiness from building their nests over your head. There is always something that you can do.
Take extreme ownership
Whatever happens you do not have the luxury of forsaking responsibility, and taking your eyes off the real issues. Face the brutal facts and be clear about what matters. Your dialogue with others should never be a clash of egos. Instead it must always be responsible and constructive engagement. Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, retired US Navy SEAL officers echo this important thought of taking personal responsibility in their book entitled, “Extreme Ownership”. They advise that leadership is about taking personal responsibility. Leaders must own everything in their world. There is no one else to blame. Wherever you stand, you are a leader because you influence and affect someone. Shift the atmosphere in your sphere of influence and concern by taking personal responsibility.
Willink and Babin share lessons from their battlefield experience and the problems they encountered. They found from experience that critical problems are made worse by mission-detracting, energy-sapping, ego-centric behaviours that result from not taking responsibility.
So much is destroyed when we play ego battles, shift blame and refuse to take responsibility. “Extreme Ownership” posits that as a leader you have to take charge of your environment and everything that happening in your space, up and down the chain of command. You are responsible for everything that happens in your atmosphere.
When you take responsibility you shift your atmosphere. When unexpected things happen, leadership is not the place to look for who to blame and how you can clean up your act and look good. It is about stepping up, and taking responsibility and in this way you gain more respect and clarify you’re thinking. Willink and Babin say that when things do not go as expected, as they sometimes will, a leader must stop and do a “stern self-assessment of how you lead and what you can do better” if you want the outcome to be different next time. This critical step is sometimes ignored and time, resources and progress could be lost while blame shifting and ego takes centre stage. A core message of “Extreme Ownership” is: let the mission always take the front-seat while you let the ego take the back set. Willink and Babin argue that the ego is always in the background ready to disrupt anything and put a smoke screen on the issues that matter.
“Most of the disruptive issues that arise within any team can be attributed directly to a problem with ego,” they say.
When we do not want to take any responsibility we fight to preserve the ground that our rightness is most important to us and in this way we block others from seeing their responsibility. Instead focusing on the greatness mission and learning from the experiences we face, we create a clash of egos. Nothing good was ever born out of inflated egos. In engaging with a colleague they write, “If you approached it as he did something wrong, and he needs to fix something, and he is at fault, it becomes a clash of egos and you two will be at odds. That’s human nature. But, if you put your own ego in check, meaning you take the blame, that will allow him to actually see the problem without his vision clouded by ego.”
Sadly by asserting our rightness and thinking that it is someone else who must take responsibility first, we sacrifice leadership and block others from being able to see their responsibility.
Knowing what to do is not the only step. The key to success and progress is to shift the environment by taking extreme ownership. Nothing changes until you change. Nothing moves forward in your life until you take personal responsibility. This has nothing to do with the geography, it has something to do with the geography of your mind. Move from blame, thinking like a victim and take responsibility.
Thermometer or thermostat
A thermometer simple tells you what the temperature reading is. When its is hot, it shoots up and when it is cold, it also reduces. On the other hand a thermostat regulates the temperature in the environment for it to be maintained at a set level. So it is with life it is up to you to choose to be a thermometer of to become a thermostat. You are either responding to every change and shift in temperature and allowing yourself to behave like a malaria patient, blowing hot and cold. Alternatively, you can take personal responsibility and shift your atmosphere. You have the power. Change start by you believing that you have that power. Unless you take personal responsibility you will act, talk and behave like a victim. Great only starts and ends at the door of taking personal responsibility.
Mind your focus
Whatever you face, it is not the end of the world. Keep your focus. Greatness is having the stamina to move from adversity, to adversity without losing your focus and your energy. You can be delayed, but you cannot be denied. You may fall down, but you choose not to stay down. Things may look worse for you, but it is when things seem worse that you must not give up. Keep focused and moving forward. Greatness without challenge is a myth. Success that happens without any effort or work is a myth. Build on what works and focus on where you are going and not where you are not going. Whatever you face comes to test your strength, commitment and resolve.
Og Mandino is his book, “The Greatest Salesman” says: “In the Orient young bulls are tested for the fight arena in a certain manner. Each is brought to the ring and allowed to attack a picador who pricks them with a lance. The bravery of each bull is then rated with care according to the number of times he demonstrates his willingness to charge in spite of the sting of the blade. Henceforth will I recognise that each day I am tested by life in like manner. If I persist, if I continue to try, if I continue to charge forward, I will succeed. I will persist until I succeed.”
This should also be your resolve. Shift your environment and if that sounds too drastic, shift your thinking about your atmosphere.
You are not a victim who is at the mercy of every shift in atmosphere. Every environment has its opportunities and risks. Be pre-occupied with finding and using the opportunities while facing the realities of the atmosphere in which you have to play. You were not delivered into the world in defeat because every child born is a testimony of success. You are not a sheep just waiting for prodding. Shift your atmosphere and step up your game. You are a lion, a winner and you make a difference. Repeat at least ten times these words of Mandino: “I am a lion and I refuse to talk, to walk, to sleep with the sheep. I will hear not those who weep and complain, for their disease is contagious. Let them join the sheep. The slaughterhouse of failure is not my destiny.” Choose to positive influence your environment and do what you can in the best way you can. You are destined for greatness.
Committed to your greatness.
Milton Kamwendo is a leading international transformational and motivational speaker, author, and executive coach. He is a cutting strategy, team-building and organisation development facilitator and consultant. His life purpose is to inspire and promote greatness. He can be reached at: [email protected] and Twitter: @MiltonKamwendo or WhatsApp at: 0772422634. His website is: www.miltonkamwendo.com