I recently was sitting with a friend while he was conversing with his sister who is single and worried that she won’t find a life-partner. She wanted advice from her brother. As I know them both well, she didn’t mind my listening in. ‘’How can I find a good husband?” she asked.
My friend’s response was, “Try being the kind of person that the kind of person you want, would want to be with.”
Here’s my take on my friend’s suggestion: If I ask, “How do I find the right partner?” before I ask “How do I become a loving person?” the result is likely to be a disaster because I first need to focus my attention on becoming a loving human being. First cultivate a life filled with compassion, and passion will be added to it. Search only for a great passion, and you will likely end up void of love.
Interestingly, this isn’t just a lesson about love; it’s a lesson for life. It’s about accountability. And it’s about leadership. When we ask, “How can we get better leaders – in our organization and in our country?” maybe we’re starting with the wrong question. Instead of seeking better leaders, maybe it’s more helpful to look in the mirror. “How can I be a better leader?” “How can I get better at what I expect from others?”
My notion is that rather than expecting others to be different, the path to better leadership is to be a better leader. We institutionally deny the fact that each of us – through our perceptions and our choices – is creating the culture that we so enjoy complaining about. Deciding that I have created the world around me – and therefore I am the one to step into healing it – is the ultimate act of accountability. Let’s stop complaining and start stepping up.