I live in a culture that makes everything a contest.
We take metaphors from sports and try to apply them to every activity of life. We live in a time when the language of athletics has become abbreviations to describe how we live. We have created a culture in which a Hail, Mary has become a football play.
We turn designing, baking, singing, cooking, fixing household problems, dancing, running a business into contests. We watch stories about crime and justice, social issues, relationships and see them as contests. We turn how we choose our leaders and representatives into contests, then criticize them for the ways they act.
I have a friend who says that all of life is a competition.
I know people who see their own leadership as a contest. Some of them compete with other potential leaders, some compete with themselves. They earn points by meeting goals, accomplishing tasks, getting things done.
The focus of their leadership is on defeating the competition. They are out to win.
The leaders who inspire me do not lead to defeat anyone, including themselves. The leaders who inspire me lead from their deepest selves. They explore their true selves, and share what they discover with the people around them.
I believe in knowing myself as intimately as possible and holding myself to meaningful standards. I do not believe that I, or other leaders, are opponents or adversaries that I need to demonstrate I can defeat.
Leadership is not about defeating someone or earning points. Leadership is more important, deeper, than that.
I become a stronger leader by learning the lessons life has to teach me. I explore the mysterious passages of my deepest self, and share what I learn with the people around me.
Is your leadership a contest? Who is your opponent?
[Image by Bill Tyne]