Previously, I wrote on the first two leadership principles in the last chapter of The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz. They were to “trade minds with the people you want to influence” and to ask yourself “What is the human way to handle this?” This week I want to discuss the third principle on “how to think like a leader.”
Principle 3: Think Progress, Believe in Progress, Push for Progress.
Experience with non-progress:
I have had the privilege of traveling in India on three occasions over the past decade. On each of those trips, I was able to experience the life of Indian people in a very rural context (small villages, back woods, dirt roads). One of the aspects of these people and towns that struck me over and over was the fact that so many of them were using tools and methods that their ancestors would have used over a century ago. They were content to keep using short, homemade brooms that caused their backs and knees to hurt. Some used wooden, ox-driven carts to carry hay for their water buffaloes while the younger generation zips around on small motorcycles or plays games on their iPhones. Everywhere I looked, I saw examples of people who were not progress minded – and just continued doing what they had always been doing.
Turning this personal:
But then I think about myself. Am I always progress-minded? Do I believe that I can and should improve? That there is opportunity for progress in our company or my family? I am recognizing that I need to “think progress” – or I might drift on the status-quo and be stagnant like all those people I encountered in India.
Guidance from Dr. Schwartz:
David Schwartz provides helpful guidance as he said, “there are two special things you can do to develop your progressive outlook:
- Think improvement in everything you do.
- Think high standards in everything you do.”
He tells a story of a teacher he had one year that did not believe in progress. She didn’t seem to care about the students or really believe that they could improve. She was not respected and the students ran over her all year long. Not much progress because there wasn’t a belief in progress. The teacher he had the next year (with the exact same set of students) set the tone from day one that she loved the students, believed in progress, and expected excellence from each of them. She received respect all year long – and progress was made. She “thought” improvement and had high standards.
We are challenged to remember that the team, group, or family you lead will “adjust themselves to the standards you set” (and example you provide). They want to know if you think progress and what level of progress you expect of them.
Helpful quotes to remember:
“Check the example you set. Use this old but ever-accurate quatrain as a guide:
What kind of world (company/group/family)
would this world be,
If everyone in it
were just like me?”
“The simplest way to get high-level performance is to be sure the master copy is worth duplicating.”
Wow! That quote is good. I just wrote that down in the back of my planner!
Are you a progressive thinker? Or do you drift in the status-quo?
- I know that it is a mix for your spheres in life – so think about progress opportunity in each life domain.
Reference: Schwartz, David. “How to Think Like a Leader.” The Magic of Thinking Big. Touchstone, pp. 275-302.