Knowing What You Want Gives Clarity and Purpose

Let’s revisit the first question in yesterday’s post “What do you want?” again.

Recently, I sat in a planning meeting with a group of young committees of a local organization. In the middle of an agenda, the leader stated adamantly who he doesn’t want to work with and what he doesn’t want to experience again because of a past fallout. But when asked what is it that he really wants for this team to achieve, he paused silently and thought for a while, and then simply uttered a blank “errrmmm….”.

I wasn’t sure if the leader provided any useful direction to his project team in the first place. It could have helped if he explicitly expressed his intentions and purpose to clarify the main objectives and the desired outcomes.

It’s like providing a road map without knowing where to go; the leader was telling his team where not to go and what not to do, but didn’t state the destination and how to get there! Did he know his desired destination in the first place? I really couldn’t tell! He was more driven to avoid past pains than to move towards something new. Fine. Maybe he had learned something useful from his past undertakings which had shaped his present approach, but his team doesn’t know the pain and didn’t need to. They didn’t need to know something unknown to move away from, but something to move towards to. Something clear, so they could fix their eyes on the target. Isn’t that more useful?

Be Like Little Children

children know what they wantI enjoy being around little toddlers,  playing with them, even engaging in conversations with them. They always know very well what they want. I just love to look into their eyes which come alive and light up their whole countenance when they say “I-I-I want…….”. And many times, they make it known loud and clear what is it that they want, right there and then!

I thought that is so beautiful and attractive! Why?

For me, it’s not whether they really get want they want (though they often do!), but it’s the innocence and aliveness that I catch in their eyes when they’re expressing what they want, and the aliveness in the expectancy.

They certainly know how to come alive!

But we adults have learned over years of experiences, disappointments and pains, that we often can’t have what we want, so we have accumulated what’s called “learned helplessness”. Over time, we don’t know what we want anymore, and often settle for mediocrity. We dare not aim and hope for what’s best for ourselves. Our idea of “possibilities” are chained by past results and lessons, and not by what’s really out there, waiting and calling for us to seize them.

Try asking the little children what they want to be when they grow up, and usually all of them would be happy to tell you. Doesn’t matter whether they’re realistic or not, right or wrong, but all of them have some ideas and are not afraid to express them. Now, try asking all new graduates what they want to do, and the common replies would be “Errrmmm….I dunno!”

Then, try asking the old adults who they wanna be!

 

Leadership Quality

Are you a leader in an organization? Or at home? Or out there in your playing field? We’re all leaders whether we know it or not, we all have our area of influence, big or small. People do observe you, watching your moves and listening to what you say.

To me, one of the most attractive traits of a leader is confidence. A confident leader knows what is it that he wants, and knows exactly what he’s doing, even though he may not know everything immediately; he may not know how to get from where he is now to where he wants to go. But he has this inner compass that guides him, where his actions are congruent with his values. He’ll become fundamentally unstoppable, and his followers can sense and are attracted to this quality in the leader.

How would you build your self-confidence today? How can you become a better leader? Perhaps we can all start by putting back on a our inherited child-like attitude and ask the basic question again:

“What do I want?”

“What is it that I really, really, really want?”

Then, we can move on to its variances:

“What really matters?”

“What is worth living for, dying for?”

“Is this okay for me?”

“Is that good enough for me? For now? For the next 6 months? 3 years?”

What kind of leaders are the world looking out for? Is it those that are charismatic with big bubbles of hype surrounding them? Or the confident and purposeful leaders that know how to come alive, that knows what they’re doing and have integrity of values and actions?

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