Monday, March 29, 2010

Embracing Change

This (very) brief excerpt from my upcoming book, Beyond the Goal: Discover the Hidden Driver of Enduring Success, seems appropriate to help our group members cope with all the change that's taking place around us right now, and to remember that lasting change is not a solitary process.

Change is not made without inconvenience, even from worse to better.

-- Samuel Johnson

The eighteenth-century English poet offers a sage reminder that although you may be ready for change because you’ve had many hours and days, or perhaps even years, to brace yourself for it, your employees, or co-workers, or family members, or life partner may need some time to also adjust themselves psychologically to what you’ve suddenly informed them is coming down the pipeline.

Why are people so resistant to change? In truth it’s not change they are so resistant to as much as “being changed.” Think about it: If you agree with Shakespeare, who wrote that “There is no reality; only perception,” then you agree that each person’s perception creates their reality. The world is lived, then, in the mind. The mind creates associations (e.g. “Longer hours are the key to success” or “Our product line is the best out there and assures the comfortable life I am living.”) that become entrenched and hard-wired over time.

To let go of these long-established mental patterns requires immense courage. If you don’t help the people you lead to find this courage within by leading in a way that increases their sense of security with you and with the company or organization, then your team members will act not with an abundance-mentality of what could be, but out of a scarcity-mentality that centers around their fear of losing what they have.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Why Discipline is Misunderstood and Why It's Important, Especially Now

It's so easy in challenging times - whether the economy is affecting you at work or changes in your personal life are affecting your emotional well-being - to forget about what you most care about and allow a negative emotion - such as fear, insecurity or anxiety - to get the better of you. I hope this excerpt from my book Full Alignmment ( causes you to rethink your relationship with what you value most, and the role of discipline in pushing you to stay focused on it.


Discipline is derived from the word disciple, or “follower.” In our modern society—which places such a high value on individualism—this word has taken on some very negative connotations. When you think of a “disciple,” what image comes to your mind? Do you think of a follower of another person’s Vision or principles? Does the word evoke images of people blindly following the decrees of megalomaniacal leaders all the way to their own demise, such as the more than nine hundred Americans who followed the orders of Jim Jones and drank cyanide in Guyana, or those who followed David Koresh in Waco, Texas?

How about the word “discipline” itself? Does this word dredge up negative memories of teachers, parents, or coaches who were constantly “disciplining” you when you were growing up? You may have been conditioned to think of discipline as something imposed on you from the outside. Like anything else that obstructs your freedom, you most likely perceive discipline as something you want to rebel against.

When you were a child, you may have had a teacher who didn’t care about you or have your best interests at heart. Your acts of rebellion may have actually been acts of conformity—to your higher Vision for what you knew was possible for your life. Your survive-and-thrive instincts may have told you to disrupt a damaging power relationship and pursue your own agenda.

Alternatively, you may have been a “rebel without a cause.” You may have intuitively realized that you needed to destroy a power relationship that wasn’t working without considering what you wanted to replace it with, like a revolutionary who hasn’t yet learned how to govern.

To reconstruct your relationship with discipline, ask yourself this question: What if the teacher, head honcho, or boss-man were your higher Self? Would you still want to rebel against discipline if the person imposing it were none other than the you that you know you can be?


Why is it important to understand your early encounters with discipline? Because you have rightfully taken issue with the form it has taken in your life. Yet when you blindly rebel against it you deny yourself the considerable benefits of its function. Your rite of passage to growing up just may be to stop equating rebellion with progress. It may be to realize that your rebellious instinct when others try to control you and your willingness not to rebel against your higher values are both acts of Vision-Alignment.

Here’s the secret ingredient for becoming a fully formed human being: Replace the discipline others used to get you to do what they wanted you to do with your own discipline to get yourself to do what you want you to do. To achieve self-discipline, you have to get with the program—your program! You have to walk the path you yourself laid.

Take this leap of the imagination. Feel the presence of two powerful forces within you. You are the Visionary and also the “Actionary.” The Visionary develops a Vision for what you want to accomplish in your life and how you will act toward others. The Actionary takes these lofty ideals, this higher “code of ethics,” and transforms them into your daily actions. While the Visionary chooses how you want to live, the Actionary lives by what you choose.

You are both the director writing your life scripts and the actor reading from them. You are the one making the decisions and the one acting them out. You are the one who makes commitments and the one called upon to deliver. Part One of this book was about how to develop the Visionary within you. Part Three is about how to develop the Actionary. In every single moment of your life in which you become the Actionary and make your Vision happen—especially the moments that test your resolve because you would rather be doing something else—you exercise discipline.

In an earlier chapter, we discussed how “to lead” comes from “to guide” or “to travel.” You are the only one fit to guide your journey, to be the Visionary or leader of your Self. You are the captain of your ship as it sets out to sea. Yet you are also the passenger on the dock searching for the right ship to board. Here’s the key question this chapter urges you to answer: Will you choose your Self as your captain or will you board another ship?

No one else fully shares your Vision for what you want to achieve in your life. Everyone else has another agenda. Some care about you immensely and truly desire for your happiness. Nonetheless, their own agenda. They have a unique Vision for how they—and you—should go about this thing called life. Without discipline you are unable to follow your leader within, the designer of your own agenda. Instead, you give up on it and follow the agendas of others. You board another ship.


Anthony Silard is the president of The Global Leadership Institute and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday each week in your inbox and a free copy of Anthony's new audio CD, "The Surprising Source of Your Passion", enter your email here (1-step only).