You don’t forget a man who lost one of his buttocks to a rocket propelled grenade during an ambush in the Mekong Delta…and you definitely don’t forget what he says when he’s one of your first instructors in SEAL training. Though it’s 25 years later, I can still hear his voice like it was yesterday, saying:
“Everyone wants to be a SEAL on a sunny day…but what happens when the sun ain’t shining, it’s cold, wet and the bullets start flying – how many of you want to be a SEAL then?”
Of course all of us standing there just nodded our heads and told ourselves “doesn’t scare me – I want to be a SEAL”. Somewhere along the way, over 80% of my class didn’t want to be a SEAL badly enough. We started with a 122 and only graduated 14. Why?
Understanding Your “Why”
The answer is the reason some leaders become great ones while many settle for just getting by. It’s all about understanding your “why”.
Great leaders inspire others. But before they can inspire others to achieve greatness, those leaders must first be inspired themselves. No one is going to be motivated by someone who isn’t already motivated herself.
Intrinsic Vs. Extrinsic Motivation
So how do you get inspired? The same way you make it through SEAL training – you create an internal link – an intrinsic reason for why you want to lead or achieve your goal.
External links or extrinsic reasons aren’t enough. Trying to motivate yourself for getting a better parking spot or X more dollars….that’s a by-product of the leadership position, but NOT the goal.
The intrinsic driving force is focusing on things that matter more than external perks – things like making a difference, helping those on your team excel, tackling and succeeding at a seemingly impossible goal (i.e. bringing a world first product to market, improving something that others say couldn’t be done, making a positive impact).
The driving force will always be about how much you care –about your people, their individual growth and the work you are all doing. If you care more about your paycheck, trust me, people will see it in you and mirror that attitude…and before you know it, your team is not a team at all, but instead a group of individuals only worried about themselves and what’s it in for them.
Intrinsic Links Help You When the Going Gets Tough
When I suffered most in SEAL training, the intrinsic links I had forged when understanding why I wanted to do it motivated me to keep going. I didn’t go through SEAL training punishment so I could walk into a bar and say “Look at me ladies, I’m a Navy SEAL”.
Instead the links I developed were based on both negative and positive outcomes. On the negative side, I would think about what it would feel like to have to confront all those doubters who told me I would never make it; I would also think about spending 5 years on a ship working in the engine room (I had a taste of that during my time at the Naval Academy and it made a lasting impression on me!). On the positive outcome, I would think about the opportunity to take on some of the world’s bullies and give them a taste of their own medicine and the opportunity to work with best of the best.
Both the negative and the positive outcomes where driving forces for me during my darkest times in SEAL training….and they also powered me during my most challenging times leading a business.
I didn’t start a business so I could have lots of people working “for” me. I started a business because I was inspired to help others take control of their lives by first taking control of their bodies. That inspiration became my calling card for attracting other like-minded people. The business would have never stood a chance if I hadn’t been inspired in the first place. Whether you’re already in a job or looking to start your own, always remember leading begins with YOU. If you can’t lead yourself to being inspired, then how do you expect to inspire others? To find your inspiration, look inward and learn to understand your “why”. There’s no right answer – just your answer. Each of us has the ability to be our own authentic leader…but it starts with you and being true to yourself about what truly inspires you. The better you can articulate why you are inspired, the better you will be at inspiring others. And when that happens, you’re on your way to building an Unstoppable Team.
First, inspire yourself.