Ahhh, February! Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved the month of February. Here are a few reasons why:
- At 28 (or 29) days, it’s the quickest month to get through, and the paydays seem to come just a little sooner.
- The groundhog’s shadow tells us Spring is on its way.
- The birthday celebration of our two greatest Presidents, Washington and Lincoln, reminds us of our freedom, liberty, and what can happen when you choose to take a stand and lead.
- And of course, there’s Valentines Day: the one day you couldn’t get in trouble passing notes in class. The one day you could get totally confused over two words printed on a heart shaped candy (“Hmmmm, does that girl really want to ‘BE MINE,’ or did she want me to ‘GET REAL,’ or is she just giving me candy?”). For a guy, it’s the one day (besides an anniversary) that had better not be forgotten!
Yes indeed, February to me is the month for lovers and leaders. And as a frequent speaker on both topics, I testify that the power of leadership rests in the mysterious power of love. This article is about love from the leadership perspective (or leadership from the love perspective, if you prefer). You’re about to discover where to find it, how you know if it’s real, and what to do once you find it!
Two of the most frequent questions I hear from people in regard to love are:
- “How do you know if it’s love?” and
- “Where do I find love?”
The Most Important Decision. As someone who used to ask these questions constantly, I can still identify with them. Your answers to these two questions will determine a significant amount of your life’s direction and happiness. As my Grams used to say, “There’s no more important decision than whom you choose to love (and marry).” The answers to these questions determine whether you simply make a dent or make a difference in the world around you.
The Love and Leadership Link. Interestingly enough, leadership and love are linked. They impact each other. You cannot lead well if your heart is not well. It’s hard to love great when you cannot lead some part of your life great. Love and leadership parallel. Their paths are one. This means answering questions for one, provides you with insights on the other.
“How do you know if it’s love?” This question doesn’t just apply to people: it applies to your life as well. The Point: A leader leads best at that which he or she loves to do.
“Where do I find love?” This question is a puzzle. There is no magic formula to find the person of your dreams or what you were meant to lead. But just because there’s no formula doesn’t mean there are no steps to take. Ponder this: Is the world around you a world that YOU chose, or did the WORLD choose you? Has your life evolved as a matter of circumstance or calculation? Does life “just happen” or do you “make life happen?” The Point: The leader with greater options has the greater chance of finding the best solution.
How to Really Know. Okay, so you might begin to see the connection between the power of love and leadership. But you’re still wondering, “How do you really know what you love and love to do?” The answer to this question will tell whether you are a heart breaker or a difference maker. There are three ways to discover if your pursuit of love is true or not:
1. What you love leaves no question.
2. What you love loves you back.
3. What you love leaves a legacy!
1. What you love leaves no question. I was in eighth grade when I started my quest. I was trying to find “what I was here on Earth to do.” I started reading books, asking around, and even writing letters in hopes of finding answers. One response to a letter set me on my path. A legendary corporate leader, Lee Iacocca (the President and CEO of Chrysler Motors and the designer of the legendary Ford Mustang), wrote me back. Mr. Iacocca told me to try a variety of things so that I would know the difference between what I was good at and what I enjoyed doing. He said where the two overlapped I would find the answer to what I love to do. He was right! When you find what you love, you’ll also find that the question “is this love” is swiftly replaced by the answer.
2. What you love loves you back. Love is not a one-way street, and your love alone is not enough to generate true happiness and make a difference. What you love must love you back. I loved playing football. I worked hard. I practiced. I trained. However, if football loved me, you would be watching me play football every Sunday… I wouldn’t just be writing about it. After two injuries and no scouts thinking of me as the next Steve Young, I had to finally deal with reality. The coaches knew my heart and passion for the game. But I needed more than just heart. Your love alone is not enough. When what you love loves you back, you’ll find a natural fit, a comfortable ease, a heart at peace, and success that flows.
3. What you love leaves a legacy! Stop and think of the greatest leaders you know. Consider them from all walks of life, sectors of society, and ages. As you think about them, you’ll find at least one trait in common – they left a mark, a measure, a moment for the future. Their love has outlasted them. Consider Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his “I Have a Dream” speech. His dream and love was so powerful that they carry through to this very day. Dr. King did not give the “I have a Task Speech” or the “I Have a To Do List Talk.” He didn’t challenge people to join in some objectives, action items, and strategies. These do not leave legacies. Dr. King boldly declared, “I HAVE A DREAM,” and invited the whole world to join him in making that dream a reality. His love left a legacy. Those who love large leave lasting legacies.
Now you now have some keys to unlocking the mystery of how to find love. However, as a leader, finding love and knowing how to love are two completely different ideas. When you understand them both, then you are on the road to big time leadership!