The first trait of being an effective Difference-Maker Leader is:
Know Your True North
north according to the earth's axis, not magnetic north.
Magnetic north is based on outside influences, but True North is indisputable. In life, we have direction, goals, drive, and we set off with the end in sight (true north), but along the way, circumstances, pressures, people, and other outside influences nudge us off course as if they have a magnetic pull on us. So we adapt and make concessions and sacrifices. The struggle was never in the destination--we knew exactly where we were headed--the struggle, however was in the path we took to get there.
So consider these thoughts as you set your True North.
Know who you are.
What is most important to you? Are you driven by outside achievement or internal reward? What values or ideals are you committed to, no matter what?
For example, in a political race, there are certain issues that rise above the others as deal breakers for me. I can like a candidate, I can appreciate his work ethic, his goals for his position, even his track record, but if we don't see eye-to-eye on those main issues, I can't give him my vote. Those things identify my political True North and it's important I follow that path. If I followed the crowd and allowed my ideals to be minimized and voted according to popularity, that would mean I was following magnetic north and, in the end, I would have forsaken my own values.
Know where you are.
Setting boundaries will keep you focused and on course. Boundaries should be physical, emotional, and spiritual...all with the intent to protect your vision from outside distraction. Boundaries are difficult to set but even harder to maintain. People and circumstances will always find your weak spots and the temptation to lower your guard will weaken your resolve if you're not solid.
Prepare yourself by re-examining your boundaries on a daily or weekly basis. Knowing your boundaries in life helps determine what you are willing take on or take in. Your boundaries become the guardrails in life. They feed off of who you are and provide the needed protection from internal and external forces.
Do you tend to poll your friends before you make a decision? Or maybe you're the type of person who acts first and picks up the pieces later. What about when it comes to stress? Do you withdraw from activity to find rest or do you push through?
It's important to identify your tendencies so you can make sure they line up with your values. For example, if you say that spending time with your spouse is something you highly value, but then you always choose to work late when the opportunity presents itself, your tendency is overshadowing your value and you'll soon be nudged off your True North.
Know what you are.
Frequently, we spend energy focusing on our weaknesses, at times, even obsessed with what we cannot do well. Research from Gallup suggests when we focus on our strengths we improve not only our engagement but our effectiveness as well. According to the data when we build upon on our strength we learn more.
Knowing what your strength is and leaning into that helps drive you toward the results you desire to achieve. What you are is more about your gifts and talents than your weaknesses. Knowing this not only sets you apart but also moves you ahead in life.
Know why you are.
The concept of knowing why you are here is not a new idea. The research only validates what each of us know or want to know intrinsically, why are we here. To know and understand not only that we are here on purpose but to know our purpose is a game changer in life.
In Victor Frankel’s masterful work, Man’s Search For Meaning, he explores our hardwired need to have meaning in life. Knowing this meaning can be the difference between life and an abundant life or in the most extreme conditions, as Mr Frankel experienced in Nazi Germany’s concentration camps during WWII, having meaning can be the difference between life and death.
To have an accurate bead on your True North it becomes imperative to understand your purpose in life. Coupled with knowing who you are, what you are, where you are, and how you are rounds out what it looks like to be a Difference-Maker Leader focused on True North.
Check you personal internal compass and set a course for True North…ONWARD!