Posts Tagged ‘change’

Emotions run very high in the heat of the moment“I’m so…you make me…I just can’t be around you anymore! I’m leaving!”

“Fine! Go! Walk away!”

“Fine! I will!”

Two otherwise-mature adults, their bodies defensive and tight with rage, turn their backs on and stomp away from each other with whatever led to this emotional climax unresolved in the heat of the moment like two three-year-olds fighting over a toy.

Immature? Yes.

Can we all identify? Yes.

Have we all done it? Yes.

The purpose of this blog is to define what quintessential leadership is, what it is not, and to show what it looks like in practice.

Being quintessential leaders is the goal. Becoming quintessential leaders is a process. And the reality is that none of us are completely there yet.

But we all, if we’re reading this, want to become and are on the path to being quintessential leaders.

Sometimes it’s helpful to take a unquintessential leader moment – we all have them – and analyze it to see what happened and why it happened.

Then, as we think it through, we can identify what steps (i.e., what it looks like) we could have taken and, hopefully, in the future will take to be a quintessential leader in this area of our lives.

Handling the heat of the moment consistently as a quintessential leader is one of the most difficult areas we will routinely encounter in our lives.

We face it, sometimes on a daily basis, as parents, as children, as siblings, as spouses, as friends, and as team members.

Because intense emotions rise to the surface in these encounters, it is difficult, at times, to step back, so to speak, dial down the emotional aspect, and exercise the discipline and self-control not to end up saying things we don’t mean, hurting feelings, and stomping away in anger with nothing resolved.

And sometimes the words we say are so harsh, the feelings are so deeply hurt, and the abandonment so angry and final that incurable wounds are left and relationships are damaged beyond repair in this lifetime.

No one wants this.

So let’s examine what quintessential leadership looks like in the heat of the moment. In the process we will see the places in these encounters where things can quickly either go right or wrong, leading to a domino effect that either leads to strengthening the relationship between two people or, at worst, destroying it permanently.

What causes the heat of the moment?

It’s usually something as simple as a word or a gesture.

Whichever it is, it pushes our buttons on such a fundamental level that our first reaction is extreme and negative emotionally.

When this happens, our gut response is to immediately turn off, shut down, and shut off whatever provoked our emotional firestorm.

We do this with defensive and angry words – most often in the form of a vicious verbal attack designed to hit below the belt for maximum effect – and defensive gestures (finger pointing, aggressive leaning in, etc.).

If this doesn’t shut up the person who has pushed our buttons and they try to explain why they said or did what they said or did, then we get angrier and more determined to stop the source of our emotional turmoil.

We pull out all the big guns of accusation and intimidation, talking over the other person, refusing to listen to anything they say, getting louder, angrier, and more aggressive to stop them.

If that doesn’t work, then finally we spit out the words at the very beginning of this post that convey that our disgust, our hatred (in that moment), and our rejection of that person is so deep that it has rendered us unable to even to complete a thought or a sentence so we have no choice but to leave.

This is an unquintessential leader response.

And our actions and words create anger, hurt, and frustration in the person we’re trying to shut down, so they have an unquintessential leader response as well.

Unquintessential leadership in the heat of the moment can lead to irreparable relationship chasmsIn other words, everyone fails to be a quintessential leader. And if the chasm we’ve created is too wide and too deep to be filled or bridged, we’ve also destroyed a relationship.

What does quintessential leadership look like in the heat of the moment?

First, quintessential leaders put the brakes on after the first gust of their emotional upheaval appears. They know their triggers well, but they also recognize that words and gestures that may mean one thing to them may not mean the same thing to other people.

So, instead of jumping to the conclusion that they know what the other person means by a word or a gesture, quintessential leaders engage with the person to find out what is behind the word or the gesture.

In other words, quintessential leaders put their own ideas, reactions, and assumptions aside and they start a conversation with the other person.

But starting a conversation is not enough.

Quintessential leaders listen to the other person. By listening, I mean they let the other person explain fully what they meant by what they said or did (there might even be an apology if they realize it was wrong or inappropriate) without interruption.

Quintessential leaders hear the words, they process the words, and they don’t make mental assumptions and arguments while impatiently waiting for the other person to get through talking.

Quintessential leaders then affirm that they heard the other person by summarizing what that person said. There may be a place here – if it is appropriate (most of the time it is not) and if it can be done peaceably, kindly, and gently – for quintessential leaders to explain their initial response to the word or gesture the other person used.

It is at this point that potential conflict is defused and a meaningful dialogue that can benefit both people starts. This is part of how we get to know, to understand, and to learn about each other, which is the quintessential leader way.

But what if neither person was a quintessential leader in the heat of the moment and they both ended up stomping off in anger?

There is still an opportunity to be a quintessential leader.

One action does not define who we are. If it did, we’d all be toast.

It is the sum total of our actions that show whether, in the balance, we’re on the path to becoming quintessential leaders or not.

The next opportunity to be a quintessential leader for both people is to reach out and apologize and extend peace.

Quintessential leaders extend peace after conflict regardless of faultIt doesn’t matter whether we were the attacker or the recipient of the attack in the heat of the moment.

As quintessential leaders we bear the responsibility to, as much as lies within our ability, do the right thing.

It may be that there is no acceptance of or response to our overture to make peace. That doesn’t mean we don’t do it anyway. It is the right thing to do. Always.

If the other person doesn’t accept it or respond to it, then we know that we’ve done what quintessential leaders do and we can have a clear conscience going forward.

And we’ve had a teachable moment for how we need to respond to all our future in the heat of the moments. We can learn valuable lessons even in the worst circumstances and those lessons should change us for the better.

Now is the time we all look in our own mirrors of our own lives. No, as tempting as it is, we don’t look around at everybody else. Look at yourself, just as I look at myself.

Are you and I quintessential leaders all the time in the heat of the moment?

Are you and I quintessential leaders sometimes and unquintessential leaders other times in the heat of the moment?

Are you and I always unquintessential leaders in the heat of the moment?

The odds are favorable that most of us fall into the category of the second question I asked. And that means we need to do some homework.

We need to figure out when we are sometimes unquintessential leaders in the heat of the moment what causes it (triggers, buttons) and why (response) we are.

Then we need to work on addressing those whats and whys so that they don’t light the emotional fire in us that makes us unquintessential leaders.

We can’t hold other people responsible for them (“well, if XYZ hadn’t said or done that, I wouldn’t have reacted that way”). That’s an excuse and a justification that makes everybody but us responsible for the changes we need to make.

This is our work on ourselves in becoming quintessential leaders and no one can do that but us. And some of this work may be extremely painful and it may last the rest of our lives.

But if we’re committed to becoming quintessential leaders, then whatever it takes to reach that goal is worth it.

How are we doing?






martin luther king 1966

“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Greek word agōnízomai, from which the English word agonize comes, means to struggle intensely. Real change involves real agony. As Dr. King so astutely observed, change is not inevitable.

Inertia is our natural state. Inertia is comfortable. But inertia is also stagnant. Too often, we settle for inertia as our state of being because it’s easy and because that’s the way we (or someone before us) have always done things, have always thought about things, and have always been.

Inertia, as all of us who’ve studied physics know, requires a lot of force to overcome. But, for change, the force comes primarily from within us in the elements of desire, choice, and action combined. (more…)

key component of quintessential leadershipI recently heard a discussion that contrasted the way God and Jesus Christ interact with humanity now (the terms “hands off” and “choice” – or free will – were used interchangeably) and the way the Bible says they will interact with humanity in the future (the term “hands on” was used).

Words are important. The way we construct and present words to present ideas are important. And the way we define relationships (such as similarity and contrasts) with words is important.

Equally important is whether we listen, how we listen, and whether we are critically thinking about what we hear or we just accept it at face value as being accurate.

Quintessential leaders pay very close attention to both sides of this equation at all times.

Therefore, for example, if someone sets up a contrast, then they present two opposite things. If  interchangeable words are used on one side of the contrast, then there are, either expressly stated or implied, interchangeable words on the other side of the contrast. Since it’s a contrast, the words (stated or implied) on each side are opposites of each other.

So, in the discussion I talked about above, if “hand’s off” equals “choice” (which was expressly stated) then, in contrast, “hand’s on” implicitly equals “no choice.” And the lack of choice equals force.

But is that true?

Is it accurate?

And is it consistent with the written record we have that shows how God and Jesus Christ (whom we are repeatedly assured are consistent, don’t lie, and have the same character and characteristics forever) have interacted with humanity, who they created, from the beginning?

The answer is “no.” While I could go to many places in the Bible to prove this, I will use the first example I immediately thought about to refute this, which is in Genesis 4:3-7.

The conversation (and I have no doubt it was a lengthy one but we just see the summary here) between the Lord and Cain shows explicitly how God and Jesus Christ lead humans and what that relationship has looked like, looks like, and will always look like.

The Lord (I AM in the Old Testament and Jesus Christ in the New Testament) had the ability to force Cain to do the right thing. But He didn’t do that.

Instead, He laid out the big picture of the framework within which Cain had to operate. He educated Cain on the options he had and what the consequences of executing those options were. Then He coached Cain on which option would lead to a successful outcome.

But Cain had to choose which option he wanted to pursue. Why?

force unquintessential leadershipForce can get the results a leader wants, but while force may win the battle, it loses the war.

A person who is forced to do something, whether by fear, intimidation, coercion, or bullying, is passively participating, but they have no investment, no commitment, no heart, soul, and mind conviction behind their actions. 

Using force puts all the accountability and responsibility on the shoulders of the person exerting the force.

Finally, force requires a total shutdown of logic, reasoning, and critical thinking (all attributes that humans were created with and are expected to use). Essentially, force creates rote action accompanied by suspension of all the unique elements of our brains and our consciences that make us human. 

In other words, force creates the same superficial and unknowing conditioned responses in humans that Pavlov’s famous experiments created in dogs.

choice quintessential leadershipWhen choices are presented, on the other hand, they require active participation on the part of the people they are presented to. Choices carry responsibility and accountability, and they require logic, reasoning, critical thinking, and action.

Not all choices carry the same weight and, therefore, may not require a total heart, soul, and mind investment and commitment (for example, choosing between eggs and toast or cereal for breakfast), but all choices, when they are executed, have some level of investment and commitment.

Choices also create a partnership between leaders and their teams. There are obligations on both sides and there are rewards on both sides. One of the greatest rewards can be growth as good choices are made that lead to greater progress and productivity, resulting in successful outcomes for everyone.

Even bad choices serve a vital purpose. They help us to learn what not to do the next time. As we deal with the accountability and responsibility of the consequences of bad choices, it spurs us to critically think about what we did that led to those consequences and to think about what we will change in the future to produce different – and, hopefully, better – results.

God and Jesus Christ are the epitomes of quintessential leadership and the models we as human quintessential leaders strive to perfectly and totally emulate in who we are, what we are, how we are, and how we lead.

So, choice or force: which is quintessential leadership?

quintessential leader foundations matterFoundations matter. Because no matter what kind of foundation we have as the basis for what we build the rest of our lives on, it will be assaulted, sometimes violently, from the day we take our first breaths to the day we take our last ones.

How well we weather the continuous assaults will be determined by the kind of foundation we’re building on.

For the purpose of this discussion, we will not address people who have no foundation they build on, because the outcomes they face are pretty cut and dry.

Instead, we want to look at the types of foundations that people generally build their lives upon. We then will look at how each foundation affects the building process, as well as how much protection each offers from the assaults that come from breathing for a living.

And we’ll see, in the process, which foundation quintessential leaders build their lives on and why that matters.

The three kinds of foundations that people build their lives on are:

  1. Shifting
  2. Unstable
  3. Solid

quintessential-leader-shifting-foundationA shifting foundation is a constantly moving foundation. It literally shifts based on which way the wind blows.

People who build their lives on a shifting foundation are in constant motion as to what they believe, what – and who – they like, what they do, what they think, and how they are.

These people are chameleons. They tend to make all their decisions based on how they feel in the present tense, disregarding or uninterested in facts, reason, and logic.

They are exuberantly and quickly enthusiastic about every “next best thing” that comes their way, jumping headlong into whatever it is, but that completely disappears as soon as a new “next best thing” arrives at their doorstep.

They are constantly jumping from one thing to another physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

People who build their lives on shifting foundations are particularly vulnerable to gimmicks, cons, misinformation (any shade of dishonesty, including spinning, angling, omission, and outright lying), and emotional manipulation.

Because their foundations shift, these people have no core mindset against which to weigh everything that comes at them (discernment) and no filters to block anything out. They tend to be gullible, innately believing everything they hear, often being convinced that something is true when it is not.

These people are the target audience for advertisers and marketers because they react and respond emotionally. Advertisers and marketers use emotional words like “love,” “embrace,” and “care,” as well as pinnacle words like “all,” “best,” and “great.”

Advertisers and marketers also use appealing personal phrases like “you deserve,” “you owe it to yourself,” and “you’ll be happy if…” If you don’t believe me, pay close attention to a few commercials on TV or read a few product descriptions for things being sold online.

And people whose lives are built on shifting foundations fall for it hook, line, and sinker. Every time.

People who are building their lives on a shifting foundation are disastrous when they end up in leadership positions. It is impossible to get straight answers from them and it is impossible to get consistent answers from them.

Because they immediately and enthusiastically jump into every “next best thing,” and jump out just as quickly when the “next best thing” appears, people in leadership positions who have shifting foundations constantly change projects and goals for their teams, often on a dime, leaving their teams in chaos with morale in the toilet.

quintessential leader unstable foundation sinkholeAn unstable foundation is one that looks solid on the surface, but just underneath are major issues, weaknesses, flaws, and problems that make the foundation unstable.

While a shifting foundation is visible to the naked eye, an unstable foundation is not. Only the passing of time and continual pressure will make an unstable foundation evident.

People who are building their lives on unstable foundations are typically very superficial. They are also dishonest with everyone, including themselves. People who are building their lives on unstable foundations are consummate actors and are able to imitate anything flawlessly, often to the point of believing they are the role they are playing.

They seem to, on the surface, embody the ideal in every area of their lives and they seem to be “perfect.” They also tend to attract a lot of followers and admirers because they put on such a good show of being it all and having it all. F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s Jay Gatsby is a literary example of a person whose life was built on an unstable foundation.

People who have built their lives on unstable foundations also tend to need a lot of devotees around them all the time to attest to their skills as first-rate actors. These groupies must be “yes” people, though, and they must never question anything.

Two more hand-in-hand aspects of people who’ve built their lives on unstable foundations are the need to control everything and everybody as well as being expert history revisionists.

People who are building their lives on unstable foundations crack completely – and often suddenly and without warning – under pressure and over time and when they crack, the massiveness of the flaws, the issues, the problems and the weaknesses in their foundation is exposed.

But people who have built their lives on unstable foundations also leave a lot of collateral damage – their followers – when their foundations fail. Nobody comes out unscathed and damages range from total to minor, depending on the proximity of the followers to the people who’ve built on unstable foundations.

When people who are building their lives on unstable foundations are in leadership positions, catastrophic loss is the ultimate outcome. Bernie Madoff, Ivan Boesky, and Richard Whitney are well-known examples of people in leadership positions who built their lives on unstable foundations.

quintessential leader solid foundationSolid foundations are strong, deep, and can withstand the intensity of time, pressure, and scrutiny.

With solid foundations, what you see is what you get. Solid foundations are reliable and they are trustworthy. You can depend on a solid foundation holding up, staying in place, and being consistent, no matter what else happens.

People who are building their lives on solid foundations are people who, first and foremost, have a core mindset and code of absolute integrity and truth against which everything they encounter is measured. Anything that does not meet that standard is rejected.

People who are building their lives on a solid foundation always strive to be objective, knowledgeable, and discerning. They tend to be thinking people who will take the time they need to be fully informed so that they understand the depth and complexities of everything that comes their way.

Because people who’ve built their lives on a solid foundation habitually do this all their lives, they develop the skill of doing this quickly in most situations – and when they need more time, they will tell you and will not be pushed or bullied into a snap decision – because the reality is that while circumstances and characters change over time, the core issues that we humans face in life do not.  

People who are building their lives on a solid foundation are not led by their emotions and feelings, nor do they make decisions based on emotions and feelings. It is not that these people don’t have emotions and feelings, but they don’t rely on them as a standard or a guide for living life.

People who’ve built their lives on a solid foundation have an uncompromising moral code that they apply to everything in their lives. When they see dishonesty, misinformation, spinning, angling, omission from others, they will correct it because they know that other people may be making decisions based on that and lies and erroneous information will lead them to a wrong or bad decision.

This trait doesn’t always make people who are building their lives on a solid foundation the most popular people on the block, especially when they correct these forms of dishonesty with popular people and authority figures.

They become even more unpopular, even with undeniable proof of facts and truth, when they debunk things that people hold near and dear in their beliefs and in their lives and refuse to let go of.

I always wondered why that was the case. It occurred to me recently that we call these kinds of things “sacred cows.” It dawned on me one day not long ago where the reference comes from: the cow that Aaron made for the Israelites when Moses went up the first time to get the 10 Commandments from God.

And then I realized why. Forty-plus years later, after having God literally with the Israelites day (cloud) and night (pillar of fire), Joshua had to tell the 2nd generation out of Egypt to get rid of their foreign gods (among which were some little cow statues, I’m sure) before going into the Promised Land

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

When people who are building their lives on a solid foundation are in leadership positions, you have quintessential leaders.

Unlike the disastrousness and catastrophic loss that people who’ve built their lives on shifting and unstable foundations leave in their wake, quintessential leaders leave a legacy: a team of quintessential leaders who can, in turn, build their own teams of quintessential leaders.

That matters because any entity from you or me to organizations to nations reflects the kind of foundation it has been built on.

Since quintessential leaders develop quintessential leaders, they ensure that everywhere they touch and are in life has the opportunity to build on a solid foundation. Not everyone will take the opportunity. Some are too comfortable with or too afraid to change their shifting and unstable foundations to switch to building on a solid foundation, but those that do will be the next iteration of quintessential leaders.

Foundations matter. What kind of foundation are your life and your beliefs built on? Is it shifting? Is it unstable? Or is it solid?

The answer matters too.





Part 2 looks at the last six verbal and behavioral hand grenades that we as quintessential leaders need to strive to eliminate from ourselves and from our teams.

Going Gentle Into That Good Night

verbal and behavior communication hand grenades dementia Alzheimer's Disease human relationshipsIn “Eliminate Behavioral and Verbal Hand Grenades in Our Relationships with Our Loved Ones with Dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease – Part 1,” we looked at the first six of the 12 verbal and behavioral hand grenades that psychoanalyst Trevor Mumby has identified that hamper and inhibit communication with our loved ones with dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease.

As I stated in the first post, these 12 verbal and behavioral hand grenades should be eliminated from all our communication with all humans, because although our loved ones with dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease will visibly and negatively react to each of these hand grenades while non-neurologically-impaired people may not, we still damage and destroy relationships when we use them.

The last six verbal and behavioral hand grenades of communication that Dr. Mumby has identified follow below.

verbal behavior hand grenadeUndermining.

Slowly and insidiously tearing people down from the foundational level with regard to their abilities, their intelligence…

View original post 1,743 more words

The society we live in places a high premium on fantasy, on magic, on fiction, on speculation, on dreaming. It seems the human race is drawn like a magnet to the improbable, to the outrageous, to the impossible.

We, it appears, have an irresistible urge to escape as much and as often as possible from reality.

Want to write a book that will get rave reviews and lots of sales? Write science fiction, fairy tales, or about the “dark side” (witches, vampires, werewolves, etc.). Almost every book publisher rates these topic areas as the best revenue streams for authors.

fantasy mindset unquintessential leadershipWant to have a hit movie or series? Set it in a fictional etherworld (on earth or in space), include magic, fantasy, and a good bit of blood, guts and gore and you’ll be well on your way.

And here’s the thing about fantasy that makes it so appealing. It doesn’t require focused attention, investment in time and effort, thoughtful consideration, and responsive application. Instead, it’s a superficial thing that is a blip on the screen that doesn’t change our lives and allows us to keep on going as we are without missing a blink.

I saw a quote today from an author of very short science fiction books and fairy tales that underscored the difference: ” I found the book to be too description-heavy and too wordy for my taste. Normally I would skim books that are so wordy…” and I thought to myself, “Seriously?” and then I realized this person was speaking a truth that seems to apply to most people.

Reality, therefore, has a very low premium, it seems, among the human race. Things that are factual, knowledgeable, useful, practical, and contain wisdom and truth are disdained and largely ignored.

Reality has depth that requires us to think, to process, to comprehend, to understand, and then to apply. Reality also brings us face-to-face with who we are on the inside and how that needs to change reality quintessential leadership mindsetand improve. It deals with the most important things about life and living, and it can sometimes be a hard pill to swallow.

And we humans, it seems, want to avoid all of that at all costs. It requires investment, time, effort, and then a response. It can be hard work. It can be painful. It can be soul-anguishing.

The mindset that people in leadership positions have determines whether they are quintessential leaders or not. If the mindset is fantasy-oriented, then the person is an unquintessential leader. If the mindset is reality-oriented, the person is a quintessential leader.


Quintessential leaders are not constantly looking for escape, for mindless jaunts into imaginary worlds, with imaginary characters, doing imaginary things.

In fact, quintessential leaders have little patience for fantasy, for improbability, for outrageousness, and for speculation because they know this won’t result in solutions, change, and progress.

In other words, it’s a colossal waste of time in a life that doesn’t have, in the big scheme of things, much of that particular commodity.

Quintessential leaders face life head on and they stay rooted in the perspective and mission of change and progress (change without progress as a complementary perspective and mission is useless and, more often than not, ends with things being even worse than they were before; change for change’s sake is never enough).

Their mindsets, therefore, are reality-oriented in every area of their lives. What’s right? What’s wrong? What’s good? What’s bad? What needs to be done to improve what’s right? What needs to be changed to eliminate what’s wrong? How do we make what’s good better? How do we get rid of what’s bad?

Quintessential leaders are always thinking in terms of the previous questions, no matter what they’re doing, where they are, or who they are with. They are much more observant than those who have fantasy mindsets, and seldom miss anything in their observations.

Even – and most of the time we won’t – if they never say a word, quintessential leaders see, process (consider, evaluate, determine relevance, truth, rightness, goodness, usefulness, wisdom), decide to keep or reject, and if we keep, then apply just about everything that’s important in terms of people and life that crosses our paths.

Fantasy-minded people in leadership positions tend to have almost-nonexistent observation skills, tend to live in the moment only, and have poor and slippery memories. They are, ultimately, then completely untrustworthy.

So, the question that each of us, fellow quintessential leaders must ask ourselves is, “What is my mindset?” 

Am I spending most of my time and energy and effort on things that are fantasy-based, not real, not true, improbable, speculative, outrageous? If the answer is “Yes,” then we have developed a fantasy mindset and are wasting not only our time, but the time of all the teams we lead in our lives. We are not living up to quintessential leadership and need to change. Starting today.

If the answer turns out be that we have a reality mindset, we’re not off the hook. The questions we should immediately ask are how and what can we do to change the degree, the improve the content, and to make progress in developing this mindset further. That also needs to happen today.

How are we doing?