“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” –attributed to the Dalai Lama XIV
Bzzzzzzz. We all know this sound. We all know the nightmares and suffering it can produce during our much-needed and desired sleep. We all know when this creature is approaching. Its revealing buzz, simply unstoppable and greatly feared by us. This amazing little creature is even more amazing than we think. Its simplicity can teach us more than what we could ever have imagined…
“It is very hard to be brave,” said Piglet, sniffing slightly, “when you’re only a Very Small Animal.”
Rabbit, who had begun to write very busily, looked up and said: “It is because you are a very small animal that you will be Useful in the adventure before us.”
–Benjamin Hoff, The Te Of Piglet
1. Never Give Up
What a cliché. Never give up. It is one of those life tips that we find in almost every life guide. Far from being useless, it is surely a must. Mosquitoes get this idea pretty well. They can simply pass all night trying to get into our ear, or trying to suck all of our blood. If a pea-sized creature can give its maximum effort, why can’t we? We should at least be able to put up with a mosquito. We can always go farther, and when it comes to our dreams and passions, never giving up is the key to achieving these.Advertising
Never forget that refusing to give up is a way of seeing life. It is about learning that, even though life is supposed to flow, part of this beautiful experience is building the momentum and going for it! Just as Thomas A. Edison said, “Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results. I know several thousand things that won’t work”.
2. Don’t Underestimate
We tend to underestimate things for their appearance. Size, for example, is one of those misleading qualities. We might think that because something or someone is small, it is powerless and inferior, like an ant or a mosquito. Did you know that an ant can hold more than 100 times its own weight? Or that mosquitoes are the deadliest animals on the planet?
Underestimating someone’s abilities because of their appearance is just insanely misleading and counterproductive. Like the example of the ant and the mosquito, we find countless instances of underestimation in life, such as underestimating the ability of your mom to help you with your love problems. If we want to flow in life, we should acknowledge people for their inner qualities and not for their exterior appearance or the first impression they give. Just as Toba Beta said: “Don’t belittle anyone who you don’t recognize. Don’t be fooled by anybody who underrates you”.
Ultimately, there will be times when we can´t beat the mosquitoes. Sometimes they are just too fast and somehow too powerful. It is a fight between the mosquito and our will for sleeping. It is then we have to learn to accept, which is one of the only ways to really win over mosquitoes, or to manage life’s casualties without painful attachments.Advertising
Accepting is one of Buddha´s life lessons, which certainly give us the key for flowing in life and managing life’s craziness. It is easier to flow with the water current than to resist it. Accepting is learning to let go, to be with the experience and don’t fight it. Sometimes in life we find something we call Reverse effort. As Alan Watts once wrote: “When you try to stay on the surface of the water, you sink; but when you try to sink you float. Whosoever would save his soul shall lose it”.
4. Don’t Fear Taking Risks
Mosquitoes take this too far, yet they teach us that taking a risk is worth it. For them, taking a risk is ultimately necessary, for it is one of their ways to get their food. Mosquitoes take the risk of fighting with an animal which is enormously much bigger than them. They don’t even try too hard to go all in, they just do it, and even try to get into our brains! How courageous is that?
Risk-taking is one of those much-feared things. It is totally natural, for breaking out of our comfort zone is hard and takes boldness. Yet risk-taking is certainly the best way to learn, experience, and do the undone. We humans are instinctively adventurous and committed, just like any other being. This is what has led us to thrive, evolve, and advance. Let’s go with our intuition and instinct and use our abilities to fulfill our dreams and passions. Just as Albert Einstein said: “A ship is always safe at the shore—but that is NOT what it is built for”.
We are part of this universe, this world, this reality. This is something we have forgotten. We are part of it, rather than, owners of it, which is what we usually think. Even though we might think that the former is not true, our actions say the contrary. The way we abuse the natural world, other beings, and even our own species, proves that we want to conquer rather than share and live as a whole.Advertising
Mosquitoes teach us that sharing is necessary for living, for space and resources are a need of all. Mosquitoes have equal right to live and be here. They been here longer than us, for about 170 million years already! If we learn to share not only space and resources, but love, kindness, help, food, time, and attention, our social life skills will get a boost.
Everyone loves to share with a gentle, sharing, and respectful person. And not only that, the well-being and satisfaction you feel from living interconnected with all beings and sharing with others is priceless and nameless. Just as Snoop Dogg said: “It ain’t no fun if the homies can’t have none”.
6. Be Humble
Yes, we are advanced; yes, we have a lot of money; yes, we have big houses, cars, buildings, and guns. Yes, we have complex minds, prodigy pianists, violinists… Yes, a mosquito drives us insane. Yes, we can´t control the weather. Yes, we are powerless in front of an angry volcano, a furious tornado, a violent tsunami.
We are not the most powerful, nor invincible, nor infinite. We are mortal just as any other being. We are in a continuous process of evolution and thriving. Life is beautiful. We are here to coexist rather than to oppress or repress. Mosquitoes teach us this simply and easily by demonstrating to us that in a room, in the forest, or anywhere, we are almost powerless in front of them, and if we have insect repellent, we are powerful for a couple of hours just to return to our normal, ordinary, human state.Advertising
Life is much more enjoyable when we live together and share together. There is no need to show superiority over others. If we ever have the idea that we are superior and invincible, certainly life will take the task of showing us the contrary. Just as Thomas Henry Huxley said: “Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses nature leads, or you shall learn nothing. I have only begun to learn content and peace of mind since I have resolved at all risks to do this. ”Good things come when we are open to live! Go out and live life! Listen to the mosquitoes and their wise bzzzzzzz!
Featured photo credit: Mosquitos resting on overblown flower via shutterstock.com
Last Updated on December 9, 2019
What Makes a Good Leader: 10 Critical Leadership Qualities
The word “leader” makes you think of people in charge. High-ranking people – your boss, politicians, presidents, CEOs…
But leadership really isn’t about a particular position or a person’s seniority. Just because someone has worked for many years doesn’t mean he has gained the qualities and skills to lead a team.
Getting promoted to a managerial position doesn’t automatically turn you into a leader either. CEOs and other high-ranking officials don’t always have great leadership skills.
So what makes a good leader? What are the characteristics of a leader?
Good leadership is about acquiring and honing skills. Leadership skills enable you to be a role model for a team in any environment. With great leadership qualities, successful leaders come in all shapes and sizes: in the home, at school, or at the workplace.
The following is a list of characteristics of a leader who successfully leads a great team:
1. Stay Positive, Even in the Worst Situations
Great leaders know that they won’t have a happy and motivated team unless they themselves exhibit a positive attitude. This can be done by remaining positive when things go wrong and, by creating a relaxed and happy atmosphere in the workplace.
Even some simple things like providing cupcakes or beers on Fridays can make the world of difference. An added perk is that team members are likely to work harder and do overtime when needed if they’re happy and appreciated.
Even in the worst situations such as experiencing low team morale or team members having made a big mistake at work, a great leader stays positive and figure out ways to keep the team motivated to solve the problems.
Walt Disney (1901-1966), had his share of hardships and challenges; and like any great leader, he managed to stay positive and find new opportunities. In 1928, Disney found that his film producer, Charles Mintz, wanted to reduce his payments for the Oswald series. Mintz threatened to cut ties entirely if Disney didn’t accept his terms, and Disney chose to part ways. But in leaving Oswald, Disney decided to create something new: the iconic Mickey Mouse.
What Can You Learn from Walt Disney?
Break down huge challenges into smaller ones and find ways to tackle them one by one.
Think about the lessons you can learn from the mistake and jot them down — Because sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.
2. Exhibit Confidence Everywhere
All great leaders have to exhibit an air of confidence if they’re going to succeed. Please don’t confuse this with self-satisfaction and arrogance. You want people to look up to you for inspiration, not so they can punch you in the face.
Confidence is important because people will be looking to you on how to behave, particularly if things aren’t going 100% right. If you remain calm and poised, team members are far more likely to as well. As a result, morale and productivity will remain high and the problem will be solved more quickly.
If you panic and give up, they will know immediately and things will simply go down hill from there.
Elon Musk is a great example of a leader with confidence. He truly believes that Tesla will be successful, which he has shown many times through his actions. He converted 532,000 stock options at $6.63 each, their value on Dec. 4, 2009, before Tesla went public. It was a hefty bargain considering Tesla’s stock price stood at around $195 per share at that time. He doesn’t apologize for his beliefs and has drawn fire from just about everyone for his political actions.
What Can You Learn from Elon Musk?
You can’t instantly become a very confident person, but all the small things you do every day will gradually make you more confident:
- List 10 things you like about yourself every day (something different every day), and you’ll be more confident about yourself.
- Work on your strengths, do your best to enhance them.
3. Have a Sense of Humor
It’s imperative for any kind of leader to have a sense of humor, particularly when things go wrong. And they will.
Your team members are going to be looking to you for how to react in a seemingly dire situation. It would probably be best if you weren’t stringing up a noose for yourself in the corner. You need to be able to laugh things off, because if staff morale goes down, so will productivity.
Establish this environment prior to any kind of meltdown by encouraging humor and personal discussions in the work place.
As president, Barack Obama exuded confidence and calm during stressful situations. But he was also known for his “dad jokes”, his genuinely funny speeches at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and appearing on Zack Galifianakis’s Between Two Ferns. Obama’s sense of humor made him grounded, realistic, and honest – no doubt that helped during some tense moments in the White House!
What Can You Learn from Barak Obama?
Laugh at yourself. Confident people laugh about their own silly mistakes, others will also trust you more because you’re willing to share your experiences.
Be observant and learn from the jokes others make. You can also get a lot of inspirations from the internet.
4. Embrace Failures and Manage Set Backs
No matter how hard you try to avoid it, failures will happen; that’s okay. You just need to know how to deal with them.
Great leaders take them in strides. They remain calm and logically think through the situation and utilize their resources. What they don’t do is fall apart and reveal to their team how worried they are, which leads to negative morale, fear and binge-drinking under desks.
Great leaders do in fact lead, even when they’re faced with setbacks.
Henry Ford experienced a major setback after designing and improving the Ford Quadricycle. He founded the Detroit Automobile Company in 1899, but the resulting cars they produced did not live up to his standards and were too expensive. The company dissolved in 1901. Ford took this in stride and formed the Henry Ford Company. The sales were slow and the company had financial problems; it wasn’t until 1903 that the Ford Motor Company was successful and put the Ford on the map.
What Can You Learn from Walt Disney?
Get to the root cause of any problem so you can prevent it from happening again and learn from the mistake.
To do this, use the 5 Whys problem solving framework.
By asking “why” for 5 times (or more) on why something happened, you can find out the key factor that caused the problem and can find the best solution to tackle the problem.
You’ll also learn how to prevent this from happening again in the future after finding out a problem’s root cause.
5. Listen, and Give Feedback
This is far more complex than it actually sounds. Good communication skills are essential for a great leader. You may very well understand the cave of crazy that is your brain, but that doesn’t mean that you can adequately take the ideas out of it and explain them to someone else.
The best leaders need to be able to communicate clearly with the people around them. They also need to be able to interpret other people properly and not take what they say personally.
The Dalai Lama, as a symbol of the unification of the state of Tibet, represents and practices Buddhist values. The Dalai Lama’s leadership is benevolent and aims toward truth and understanding, alongside the other Buddhist precepts. This is a great example for all leaders: if you want to give good directions to others, you have to get feedback from others to understand the situation properly.
What Can You Learn from Dalai Lama?
Encourage communication between team members and establishing an open door policy.
Practice not to interrupt team members when they’re talking.
Summarize what they say and ask for feedback every time after you have talked about your ideas.
6. Know How and When to Delegate
No matter how much you might want to, you can’t actually do everything yourself. Even if you could, in a team environment that would be a terrible idea anyway.
Good leaders recognize that delegation does more than simply alleviate their own stress levels (although that’s obviously a nice perk). Delegating to others shows that you have confidence in their abilities, which subsequently results in higher morale in the workplace, as well as loyalty from your staff. They want to feel appreciated and trusted.
Although Steve Jobs is known for focusing in on the smallest of details, he knew how to delegate. By finding, cultivating, and trusting capable team members – like Tim Cook – Jobs was able to make Apple run smoothly, even while he had to be absent for extended periods of time.
What Can You Learn from Steve Jobs?
To know when and how to delegate work to team members, you have to be very familiar with each of them:
- List out all of their strengths, weaknesses and personalities.
- Talk with your team members more too to know more about their passion and interests.
Take a look at this guide and learn more about delegation: How to Delegate Work Effectively (The Definitive Guide for Leaders)
7. Inspire and Grow People Around
Any good leader knows how important it is to develop the skills of those around them. The best can recognize those skills early on. Not only will development make work easier as they improve and grow, it will also foster morale. In addition, they may develop some skills that you don’t possess that will be beneficial to the workplace.
Great leaders share their knowledge with the team and give them the opportunity to achieve. This is how leaders gain their respect and loyalty.
Pope Francis has been unusually popular with many Catholics and many non-Catholics. His position isn’t totally traditional, which is part of his appeal, but he also has admirable leadership skills. Pope Francis’s TED talk drew attention, because he encouraged leaders to be humble and to demonstrate solidarity with others. This inclusive, kind, and respectful style of leadership is incredibly important for any situation.
What Can You Learn from Pope Francis?
Spend time to talk with other team members individually to understand them.
Find out team members’ current challenges and try to give feedback and encouragement so they will grow and do better.
8. Take Responsibility and Never Blame Others
Great leaders know that when it comes to their company, work place or whatever situation they’re in, they need to take personal responsibility for failure. How can they expect employees to hold themselves accountable if they themselves don’t?
The best leaders don’t make excuses; they take the blame and then work out how to fix the problem as soon as possible. This proves that they’re trustworthy and possess integrity.
Howard Gillman is the chancellor of UC Irvine. You might have heard of how the university rescinded a bunch of acceptances, and then changed its mind. This past spring, an unusually high number of accepted students decided to matriculate; the school initially responded by rescinding offers over things like missed deadlines. But the college realized this was a mistake and reversed its decision. Gillman and the university accepted responsibility and decided to move past their earlier bad decision.
What Can You Learn from Howard Gillman?
Ask yourself what you could have done better to prevent this from happening.
Take the responsibility and think about what you can do better to prevent this from happening next time.
9. Make Decisions Based on Lessons Learned in the Past
It’s safe to say that all great leaders will have to enter unchartered waters at some point during their career (figuratively, of course). Because of this, they have to be able to trust their intuition and draw on past experiences to guide them.
Great leaders know that there’s always something to learn from everything they have experienced before. They are able to connect the present challenges with the lessons learned in the past to make decisions and take actions promptly.
You can either recall what you’ve learned from your memories, or search from your notes (ideally, a software that you can access anywhere with things well-organized).
Warren Buffett, one of the richest people in the world, has mostly made the right calls. But in dealing with huge amounts of money, Buffett has also made several multi-million (and sometimes multi-billion) dollar mistakes. He has stated that buying the company Berkshire Hathaway was his biggest mistake. From that poor choice, he realized that it was unwise to pursue “improvements” and “expansions” in the existing textile industry. Despite mistakes like this, Buffett has invested wisely – and it shows.
What Can You Learn from Warren Buffett?
Write down lessons you’ve learned from any mistakes you’ve made.
Have all the lessons well organized and when similar things happen again in future, take these lessons as references.
10. Lead by Example and Commit to Do the Best
Great leaders stick to their commitments and promises, and they are the most committed and hard working ones on the job. All great leaders lead by example.
Why should your staff and team members give it their all if you don’t bother to? By proving your own commitment, great leaders will inspire others to do the same, as well as earn their respect and instill a good work ethic.
After 15 years of house arrest, Aung San Suu Kyi was voted state counsellor in Myanmar – one of the highest-profile and most powerful positions in the country. She became a symbol of peaceful resistance when she attempted to bring democracy to her country. In the early years of her detention, she was often in solitary confinement. Suu Kyi is a perfect example of committed and belief-driven leadership, which she openly demonstrated during her many years of house arrest.
What Can You Learn from Aung San Suu Kyi?
Some people learn by observing the way you perform a task, some need more detailed guidelines.
So dedicate time to demonstrate your work to team members, let them observe how you do it. Summarize the skills you use and let team members know how you make difficult things work.
The Bottom Line
Leadership traits are learnable. If you practice consistently, you can be a great leader too.
Make small changes your habits when you work with your team – wherever that may be. Most of us aren’t presidents or CEOs.
But we all work with other people, and our actions always impact others. This gives every person the chance to develop leadership skills and to stand out from the crowd.
More About Leadership
- Leadership vs Management: Is One Better Than the Other?
- Why Leadership and Management Are Two Sides of a Coin
- 15 Best Leadership Books Every Leader Must Read To Achieve Success
- Master These 10 Management Skills to Become a Strong Leader
Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com
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