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The Most Underrated Skills for Leadership and Life (Part 1)

Updated: Feb 4, 2022





"If you can't lead yourself, you can't lead anyone else. At some point, we are all responsible for guiding someone else through something. Be it parenting, mentorship, managing, or simply friendship. Knowing this, we should all live like leaders."

We live in an era where information is unlimited, speed of service is unparalleled, and educational resources are at an all-time high. If you want an answer to a question, Google it. If you want a product, go to Amazon. If you need a ride, Uber it. If you want to learn something new, Youtube it.

My point is, if you want a million dollars, a six-pack, or peace of mind, it's not because you don't have access to the information to unlock all three.


You clearly have the tools to find the answer, but you lack the resourcefulness, self-discipline, and desire to find out how to do it on your own.


You simply don't know how to lead yourself.

You are too busy waiting on someone to grab your hand and walk you through the next step.

Surprise! Life is not kind to people who wait for hand-me downs. Life does not give back to people who are not willing to earn it on their own.

When you adopt a lead-yourself mindset, you will start to garner the respect from others in every pocket of life. Be it personal or professional.

Whether you believe you are a natural-born leader or not is irrelevant.

Great leaders are built, not born. They walk through the fire, earn their stripes, and hone their skills of leadership through scars and calloused hands.

We all have the ability to become a leader. But it takes a rare breed to embrace the lifestyle of a leader.

So, if you are someone who has to provide, parent, mentor, manage, or has other people who depend on you, I gently suggest you develop these skills to become the leader you are capable of being.

I prefer to call these character traits, "skills" as opposed to qualities. Because skills can be sharpened over time after years of repetition. You can improve the skills of leadership the same way a pro basketball player improves his midrange jumper or his stepback three. It just takes an undying commitment to the process.

These skills will not only shape your character and your identity, but success has a funny way of following people who possess this unique skill set.


These are the Most Underrated Skills of Leadership and Life



Adaptability


In my mind, adaptability is the physical act of mental toughness. Think about it. Being mentally tough is not always about pushing through the pain. It is about accepting your current reality, adapting to a different environment, and overcoming a new set of obstacles.


People who can adapt to any situation can win in any situation.

The only guarantee in life is "change". Your career will change, your relationships will change, your circumstances will change, the market will change, even the way we communicate will change. It's inevitable in every chapter of your life. So you better be ready to pivot at a moment's notice.

We just experienced a global pandemic that has forced us to adapt socially, financially, professionally, and physically. Yet, we found a way to make adjustments and thrive under these unforeseen circumstances.

Great leaders have the unique ability to reframe situations, improvise on the spot, and make things happen. Adaptability is mandatory to success in leadership and life.

It does not matter if you are a leader of a Fortune 500 company, a single parent, a superstar athlete, or a young kid trying to figure things out. You will be forced to adjust on the fly in business, sport, and relationships many times over.

If you ever noticed, the greatest companies, sports teams, and artists always adapt to the times. They would even reinvent themselves, if necessary.

Great companies pivoted through the recession. They adjust to shifts in the market. They might even go as far to change their business model due the pandemic. Just take a look at Netflix, Amazon, and Disney.

Great teams make halftime adjustments to win big games. They trade players and adopt new philosophies midway through the season to compete for a championship. Case in point, the recently crowned LA Lakers.

People have to adapt when they miss out on a promotion, suffer through a major injury, get blindsided with a break up, or even divorce.


No matter the hardship. We all need to master the skill of adaptability.

Learn how to assess, adapt, and overcome life's hardest haymakers. It is the number one skill to pass survival mode and start thriving in any field, including life.

Reliability


No matter what, leaders show up. You can count on them, point-blank.

There is a great saying in sports, the best ability is "availability." You need to be available at all times. Availability, dependability, and reliability all go hand in hand.

In Elena Botelho's book "The CEO Next Door," a book dedicated to researching the top 4 qualities of world class leaders, reliability is a precursor to personal consistency, setting realistic expectations, and practicing radical personal accountability. Essentially, leaders earn the right to hold others accountable by holding themselves accountable to the highest standards.

Reliability is also directly aligned to serving others and teamwork. It's about seeing the big picture, surrendering to the ultimate goal, and accepting your role wholeheartedly.


Being Reliable is an act of selflessness, a quintessential example of leadership.

If your team needs you, if your company needs you, if your family needs you, if your friend needs you, you are always Johnny on the spot. Ready to step up and deliver the goods.


To little surprise, reliability and leadership often reveal themselves through friendship.

We all have two types of friends:


  1. The friends who are there for you when it is only convenient for them. When they need a favor, they hit you up. News flash! They aren't really your friends, you should put them in the acquaintance bucket.

  2. The friends who show up through rain, sleet, snow. The second you send them that emergency text that says, 'I need your help', they don't simply text back, they call you instead. They might even show up at your door.

Why is this relative to leadership? Because when you fall into the latter, people tend to follow you. They build an undying trust that you will be there for them when it counts most. This relates to business, sport, relationships, etc.

When you have a reputation for being reliable, people gravitate to you. They give back to you. They will run through walls for you.

In many ways, reliability is the first real step to becoming a leader. Because, once you prove yourself to be reliable, the right people start to take notice.

Curiosity and Humility

I am giving you 2 for the price of 1, because it's almost impossible to have one without the other.

If curiosity is the gateway to learning, then humility is the key that unlocks it. After all, learning is the gateway to creating skill, and the more skills you acquire, the more successful you will become.

All great leaders, icons, executives, and artists have two common denominators- an unquenchable curiosity and a deep humility to learn.

This deadly combination is what leaders call a white belt mentality. An endearing term referring to a young martial artist in their infant stages, ready to soak up game from their sensei.

World class leaders are willing to listen and learn from everyone around them, titles don't matter. It's the undying pursuit of knowledge that makes them tick.

This skillset is especially handy when it comes to eliminating drama within an organization. The uncanny ability to sense when to step back and be the quiet student and when to step forward and be the outspoken teacher can make a break a team or organization.

"Every man I meet is my master at some point. And knowing that, I learn from him." – Ralph Waldo Emerson

When you are humble, you do not get caught up in titles or status. You treat everyone the same regardless of the initials they have after their last name.

You give the janitor the same respect as the CEO. This practice alone will help you become the People's champ.


People follow the people who listen to them, who give them a platform to be heard, who make them feel appreciated.

Being a leader is synonymous with being a lifelong learner and an exceptional student. You will soon find out that the next level of life and leadership is always unlocked by a quality semester of curiosity and humility.

Equanimity

Simply put, equanimity is the skill of maintaining a balanced mind in the midst of suffering or success. It is calmness and composure at its finest.

Great leaders understand that failure and triumph are both imposters. After all, both suffering and success can seduce you into getting too high or too low on yourself. If you start believing your own hype, or feeding your own self pity, you will start to make choices that can derail your future.


You will learn quickly that your success in life and leadership is heavily influenced by how you handle massive loss or massive success.

Equanimity is about keeping your mind and emotions at the ideal baseline to maintain clarity and perform at the highest level. You can't allow people or outside circumstances to rattle your cage. Do not let them shift your baseline, even an inch. It is an absolute must for any leader or elite professional.

Besides, have you ever seen a leader who panics at the first sight of adversity?

Would you ever follow anyone who flies off the handle at the slightest bout of stress?

So ask yourself.

  • Can you stay calm in the face of physical, financial, or emotional suffering? How quickly do you get back to center? Is it weeks, days, hours, or just minutes?

  • Can you keep your ego in check when the world is praising you? When past success tries to fool you into thinking that you are entitled to more.

  • Can you stay even keel when the chaos of life is trying to sweep you up like a tornado? Feeling as if your feet are floating beneath you, and you have nothing to grab onto to stay grounded.

It is that space between the world trying to overtake your mind and you taking a stand that you have to seize. You must be defiant.


Detach from anything you can't control.


Being able to keep a steady hand when the people around you are trembling is what will separate you as a leader.

Understand that you will never be able to control another person's actions or outside circumstances, but you can control how you respond to any situation.

You always have the power to make the "NEXT" right choice. So, get back to the mental and emotional baseline that helps you make the right choice to propel your life forward, not paralyze you.

We all know that one poor decision can alter our life's trajectory. This usually happens when we make an emotional decision.


Regardless, if we are feeling pain or pleasure, we need to detach from those feelings and make the right move.

The stoics were masters of equanimity. But no matter if you are a Roman emperor, or a leader within your inner circle, you must possess this essential skill of leadership.

Wrap up:

In the end, leaders come in many different forms. The servant leader, the tyrant, the players coach, etc.

Each style of leadership will have a different impact on different personalities. But regardless of style, if you want to be a leader in life, you will be hard pressed to find any world class leader who doesn't possess these four underrated skills.

Adaptability: Adaptability is the physical act of mental toughness. If you can adapt to any situation, you essentially unbeatable

Reliability: Reliability is codeword for consistency and accountability. No one wants to follow a leader who is erratic and unpredictable. Give me the person who always delivers on their promise.

Curiosity and Humility: Having wisdom is the key to earning credibility and respect. You will not earn either without having the curiosity to learn and the humility to listen.

Equanimity: Knowing what you can and can't control is the ultimate skill of mitigating stress. Equanimity is synonymous with clarity. No matter how dark the fog of distractions and obstacles, the world can not blind someone with equanimity.


Look out for the most underrated skills or leadership and life (Part 2) coming soon.


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