How Social Age Leaders Find Courage Through Perspective

order_stackYou’re about to embark on a new endeavor – or maybe you’re already into it, but success hasn’t clicked yet.

Maybe it’s a new project at work. Perhaps you’ve started your own business. Maybe your new task is moving your team or organization into the Social Age. Pull it off, and you’re a hero.

No matter what your goal – it’s scary. I know. I’ve been there several times now. At various times over my career, I’ve played the motivated career-builder within someone else’s company. I’m also a compulsive business-founder (much to my poor wife’s chagrin). In fact, I’m there again yet: our baby, Switch & Shift, has passed from crawling through toddling and now walking quite well. We’re about to watch it run for the first time, and are ready for the inevitable stumbles.

And we will stumble. We will fall and skin our knees. We might even break a leg.

What if you do? Your project, business and-or Social Age migration may not be the success you dreamed it would be, at least not right away. Then where will you be?

These frightening scenarios are always there for us, no matter what we’re trying to accomplish. After all, opportunity comes with risk. If you’re trying anything worth doing – worthy of praise, a promotion, your face on the cover of a magazine, a swagger in your step – there’s going to be a downside built right in. And from where you are right now, that downside can look terrifying.

It’s okay. Fail or thrive, you will be fine. And either way, it doesn’t really matter as much as you think it does right now, in this moment.

I say this because I have not only succeeded a few times; I have failed many heartbreaking, terrifying times.

But you know what? No one has ever taken away my birthday. Not yet, anyway. Granted, I’ve had a few lean birthdays. My long-suffering wife Jane has as well. But we’re still standing. Still here to try again.

And you will be, too. Because here’s the really important thing I urge you to mull over and come to consider your own philosophy: We aren’t here to accomplish stuff; accomplishing stuff is a bonus.

We’re here to be better versions of who we are right now.

Isn’t self-improvement the point? Don’t you want to be a better you? Maybe a better manager. Maybe a better founder. Possibly a better parent, or teacher, or public servant, or creator of artistic or architectural beauty, or a better healthcare provider?

Or maybe just a wiser person than you are today. Or a person more able to help others.

That’s my thing. I decided years ago that what really mattered to me is making a difference, in making the world a better place for as many people as I could. I tried the non-profit realm, and (at least according to me) I failed.

I was shocked. Stunned. Heartbroken.

I grieved, I searched my soul, and I pivoted back to for-profit leadership. Like it or not, that’s my world, that’s what I understand the best; that’s how I can best help make the world a better place for as many people as possible.

So that’s what wakes me up in the morning. That’s why I jump out of bed, and hop on my computer every day before many of you are awake.

Am I an entrepreneur, building a business? Sure. That’s my surface driver; the thing that points me forward. But why do I bother?

Why do you bother?

As I say often in Human Side TV, I collect fascinating people. And I’m grateful that I live and work in the Social Age, which enables me to go out of my way to meet them; so I can ask them all sorts of questions; bounce ideas off them; learn from them – and help my audience (online, in a book, or live) learn from them.

And you know one theme these remarkable people have in common, almost universally? They’re driven by something bigger than themselves. They’ve left their Industrial Age “me” mindset behind. And they now desire something more substantial. Something longer-lasting.

This perspective gives them courage. The friends they’ve met along the way – online and face-to-face – give them strength. Their willingness to learn gives them confidence.

As you take on that next project, start your own business, or endeavor to take your company triumphantly into our socially-enabled business climate, I encourage you to view your work with this wider perspective.

And let it make you brave.


The original version of this post was published on May 26, 2014 on SwitchandShift.com by Ted Coiné.

Ted_CoineTed Coiné is the Chairman and Founder of SwitchandShift.com, which works with leadership to focus on the human side of business, and he is host of The Human Side TV, where he interviews the most fascinating minds in business each week. One of the most influential business experts on the Web, Ted has been top-ranked by Forbes, Inc., SAP Business Innovation, and Huffington Post as a top mind in the fields of business leadership, customer experience, and social media. Ted is a three-time CEO and a popular keynote speaker with over 350,000 followers on Twitter – and growing rapidly.

Together with Mark Babbitt, they will be releasing their book A World Gone Social on September 22, 2014.

Certified Professional Coach, Communication Specialist & Author

I help motivated but overwhelmed individuals and organizations regain their purpose to lead so they can focus on what matters most to build a transformational legacy.

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  • Sandra Bellamy

    I said to a guy who I was giving advice to the other day, always think bigger than you are. That’s what I do.