When new Navy SEAL recruits enter the SEAL training compound, they are greeted with a life-size model of the creature from the Black Lagoon, a character from an old horror film. Except this “creature” has a wooden plaque hanging around his neck with a question carved into it: “So you wanna be a frogman?” (a World War II term for a modern day Navy SEAL).
It’s a question any recruit will ask himself many times throughout training – and if the answer isn’t intrinsically powerful enough then he’ll find himself ringing the bell – washing out – a.k.a. quitting.
The Navy SEAL training question translates to business and life as well. Take a moment to think about why you want to be a leader and what it really means to be a leader. As SEAL instructors would remind us: “Everyone wants to be a Navy SEAL on a sunny day.”
When I transitioned from SEAL Team, where I had just finished my third platoon commander deployment, I found myself surrounded by civilian colleagues all proudly stating they were leaders or aspiring leaders. Yet as time wore on, I came to realize that many had connected leading with making more money. They decided “if leading makes me more money, then a leader I shall be.”
I’m all about having as many leaders as humanly possible – God knows we need them now more than ever before – but we need REAL leaders, not leaders extrinsically motivated for what the title brings you.
We need the leaders who are intrinsically inspired to help others achieve more than they originally thought possible.
That’s what real leaders do. They lead because they know that we humans are much more powerful working together than we are apart. They cherish the real rewards from leading: helping others unlock their potential; inspiring people to work hard and believe in themselves. Leaders aren’t born, they are forged through the crucible of trial and error. They dare to do what others thought was impossible through the bonds built with others united in a common goal.
Real leaders don’t do it for the money, they do it for what matters most to them and their teammates: making an impact. Sure, we all need money, but leaders put money in perspective. It’s a by‐product of great performance, not the goal.
“To lead is to serve and to serve is to care.”
Real leaders lead with their heart. They care about each and every person on their team, in their organization. Their actions inspire those around them to care as well. And when you have teams built on care, you have the building blocks for what I call an Unstoppable Team. These teams embrace obstacles as opportunities to learn, to get stronger, to be better.
Unstoppable Teams are empowered teams. They take risks, they support each other, they look at failure objectively – looking for the lessons learned not the person at fault. Unstoppable Teams are built by leaders who care, not just about the objective but more importantly about unleashing their teammates’ potential.
So when you’re thinking about stepping up from following to leading (and by the way, great followers can make great leaders), and someone in your organization, friend or foe, says “So you wanna be a leader?” you can smile back at that person with confidence and say, “You’re damn right I do – I want to take my team to the next level and make an impact.”
Keep reading, I’m going to help you become an Unstoppable Leader.
Leading begins with leading yourself.
It’s up to you,