Jay Rifenbary

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Leadership - Facing Life's Unpredictable Crossroads

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Although title, power, fame and wealth may indicate a person in a position of leadership, that alone does not give credence to being an effective leader. This is illustrated everyday in the failures and incompetence of many of those in positions of power as they fail to understand that genuine leadership is more about the responsibilities to others rather than oneself. Any person who impacts another is a leader. Leadership relates to personal accountability, and taking ownership for what you want to be remembered for.

What are the principles that form your decision-making and interaction with others? What are the values that define what it is you stand for and believe in, and are those values projected in your actions? I have always known you cannot please everyone, but I have experienced a consistent number of character traits that universally translate to being an effective leader. Discipline, integrity, commitment, loyalty, perseverance, honor, respect and humility are just some that come to mind.

A common challenge of effective leading is an acceptance of mediocrity and lack of initiative among employees. Procrastination is known among all of us; it depletes individual creativity, innovation and a spirit of risk taking because of the lack of assertiveness being promulgated by the workforce. Initiative, or the power of opportunity to act or take charge before others do is a tell-tale way to see a leader from a follower. An assertive, confident, forceful, yet humble personality can take you far. These things can squelch procrastination and lead an entire team of employees on the right path of productivity.

Also, taking ownership for the responsibilities one has created provide the strength needed to be assertive and take the initiative. Core values provide a foundation to execute actions and stand behind those actions. These core values within an individual can radiate through an organization, making the entire company structured and defined in its core values and accountability.

Managing effectively and following through with the process to its completion is imperative to leadership. Not only does accountability mean evaluating the completed task to assess ways to improve in the future, but also the fun part: celebrating the achievement by appreciating yourself and recognizing those who have helped in the achievement.

Change potentially creates discomfort, and discomfort creates personal challenges. We all know, and have felt, what leaving our “comfort zone” is like. It forces us to adapt or stand firm, be more creative and/or innovative in our approach toward a personal or professional task at hand. However, the onset of change transcends into the real challenge of revisiting the core values that strengthen your ability to make the decisions to effectively confront the change. Solidifying, updating and redefining the core values of the individual or the organization are the initial steps in building a staircase to overcome the stressors of change.

Consistency is comfortable, but it breeds mediocrity. An organization, as with an individual, who does not tackle the challenge of change will ultimately be defeated by the competition, or the life they face. Letting go of unwanted behaviors and destructive patterns of performance is also a wonderful benefit to dealing with change. It forces us to revisit how we do things to create a more efficient and productive work place.

From a leadership perspective, change also provides an opportunity to observe how those we lead deal with the stress of change, and who of those have the character to embrace the opportunity, or whine about the challenge. Change allows you to know your future performers and leaders. A final benefit of change presents an opportunity to develop new skills, hone old ones, and expand your horizon in regard to the greater potential of what you can be.

We all reach periods in our life that challenge our very being and force us to take actions that are difficult and even frightening. It is the choice and leadership that take those daunting actions and turn them into successes. The unknown crossroads we all encounter bring forth life lessons that pave the way for our future, our happiness and fulfillment. Those actions will also formulate the answer to the question, “What will you be remembered for?”

The behavioral attribute and resource to harness the strength to be decisive and eventually persevere through uncertainty is called individual resilience. It will triumph over self-doubt, failure and a lack of self-respect. It is resilience that fuels perseverance accelerating the journey to success.

The rewards to being resilient include learning from the struggle, adding a new life experience, reflecting with a different perspective and gaining an appreciation for what you do have rather than what you don’t have. It is widely accepted that those around you shape who you are, and if you surround yourself with resilient individuals, they will foster a strong resiliency in you. What is most important to know at present is we all have the ability to be resilient by practicing the core values we believe in. It is bouncing back from failure and disappointment that puts the spring in our step because it provides the confidence to carry on.

There have been numerous times in my life and yours, where life-changing decisions need to be made personally and professionally. The core values that collectively form the personality of your character are the foundation for your confidence, and create a subconscious with the intuitive ability for you to make the correct choice when the challenge of making a decision arises. Our current economic, and social stressors have only increased the need to be more conscientious and analytical in regard to how we live on a daily basis, but never neglect what your intuition may be telling you. Intuition should be thoughtful not spontaneous, and intuition collectively with diligent research will equal a successful decision made. 

Always take the time to weigh the pros and cons of a decision, and consider all the factors involved in coming to a right conclusion. It is this combination of being analytical and intuitively thoughtful that is extremely influential in making the right decision. It is difficult to regret that kind of choice.



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