About me

Famous leader quotes & beliefs that define me

Who am I?

It’s always hard to know where to start when talking about ourselves. Some opine that you are what you do at work – so for those of you, here’s my LinkedIn profile. I believe we’re a bundle of thoughts, beliefs, ideas, and experiences. We are a product of how we interpret our past and think about our future. Keeping in with this definition, here is a brief Q&A about my beliefs, interests, and everything else.

Wait a minute; I think I can do one better. Let me share the famous leadership quotes that have been pivotal to my thinking over the years. For one thing – the masters express ideas way better than I can; for another – it’s a way to share greatness around.

What’s my preferred leadership style?

The Tao the Ching describes four types of leaders (source: Stephen Mitchell – Tao Te Ching: A New English Version ).

When the Master governs, the people
Are hardly aware that he exists.
Next best is the leader who is loved.
Next, one who is feared.
The worst is one who is despised.

If you don’t trust the people,
You make them untrustworthy.

The Master doesn’t talk, he acts.
When his work is done,
The people say, “Amazing:
We did it, all by ourselves!”.

It’s a lifelong quest to get to the Master’s “invisible leadership” stage. Will I get there? I have no idea, but I will certainly try!

What do leaders need most in today’s hyper-noisy, dynamic world?

Clarity. We need clarity on what’s in our control and what’s not – this understanding will save us (and our teams) from a lot of anxiety and stress. The Serenity Prayer says it best:

God, grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change…
Courage to change the things I can,
And Wisdom to know the difference.

How do we maximize our success as leaders?

When our leadership style mirrors our “intrinsic nature” (Swadharma in Sanskrit), we are most successful. Here’s Paulo Coelho brilliantly describing what one’s nature is – in his novel The Spy (pls note a few paragraphs are edited out):

On the day of my departure, my mother called me over and gave me a packet of seeds:

“Take these with you, Martha.”….

I asked what the seeds were for.

“They’re tulip seeds, the symbol of our country. But, more than that, they represent a truth you must learn. These seeds will always be tulips, even if at the moment you cannot tell them apart from other flowers. They will never turn into roses or sunflowers, no matter how much they might desire to. And if they try to deny their own existence, they will live life bitter and die.”

“So you must learn to follow your destiny, whatever it may be with joy. As flowers grow, they show off their beauty and are appreciated by all; then, after they die, they leave their seeds so others may continue God’s work.”…..

“Even the tallest trees are able to grow from tiny seeds like these. Remember, and try not to rush time”.

Discovering greatness in people, situations, and things is my calling. This very website is a manifestation of this belief!

Why are technology and apps crucial to our success as leaders?

Here’s Kevin Kelly – the uber futurist talking about what technology truly is.

Technology is all the accumulated usefulness that our minds invent.

What technology is really about is better ways to evolve. That is what we call an ‘infinite game.’… A finite game is played to win, and an infinite game is played to keep playing.

Technology draws on people’s ingenuity over a long period of time. Apps are a manifestation of this for our mobile lives today. Apps are inexpensive (compare the cost of an app to hiring a person for an ad hoc job). They are robust (put it on the cloud, and it may live forever!) and, most importantly, represent the best of human thinking and best practices. And you can start using them right away.

Apps allow you to do things you cannot otherwise do and be visible to people you cannot otherwise reach. And all for a fraction of the price and time it would take you to develop stuff from scratch. It’s an elevator to success  – so it makes sense to get on it!

What does success mean to me?

Derek Sivers says success is what you do when you don’t need the attention or the money. I agree with his views.

You know that feeling you have after a big meal? When you’re so full that you don’t want anything more?

Ever wonder what that would feel like in other parts of your life?

We do so many things for the attention, to feel important or praised. But what if you had so much attention and so much praise that you couldn’t possibly want any more? What would you do then? What would you stop doing?

We do so many things for the money, whether we need it or not. But what if you had so much money that you couldn’t possibly want any more? What would you do then? What would you stop doing?

And then if you stopped doing all these things you’re doing just for the money or the attention, what would be left? Who would you be if you didn’t do these things? If you were completely satiated, then what? After an understandable period of relaxing, what would you pursue?

Don’t say “sit around and do nothing,” because that’s still just relaxing. I mean after that, when you’re ready to be useful to others again.

What would you do then, if you didn’t need the money and didn’t need the attention?

As leaders, what’s the one thing we should protect?

Our time. As a leader, our time (and our team’s time) are super precious. Here’s Seneca describing this wonderfully in his “must-read” essay “Shortness of life”:

People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy.

The motto I credit for most of my success in two decades of leading people?

This one advice attributed to Confucius has been my true-north:

Don’t do unto others what you don’t want done unto you.

It is hard to treat people as they would desire – since people have their personal inclinations. But none of us want to be treated badly or unfairly, making the quote an excellent guide to live by!