–Leaders create needs vs. waiting to be imposed on by a need
Plato’s mentor was Socrates. Plato thought Socrates was the wisest person of this time and he passionately desired to learn all of Socrates’ wisdom.
Legend has it that one day Socrates and Plato were walking down the beach deep in conversation. At one point, Socrates said to Plato, “Walk with me into the ocean.” They turned and walked into the sea together.
Now, in your imagination, picture that happening: Student and teacher, two of the greatest philosophers of history, striding into the surf side by side.
The water started out around their ankles, then rose up to their knees. As the water got higher Plato wondered, “What is the lesson my master is trying to teach me?”
When the water was about shoulder height, Socrates abruptly grabbed Plato’s head and pushed him down under the water. As Plato was held down, he undoubtedly wondered again what this lesson was all about.
After a time, when Plato ran out of air, he began to struggle to get his head above water. He punched and kicked and grabbed to get free, but Socrates was a strong man and held him down. Finally, Plato blacked out due to lack of oxygen. Socrates pulled him ashore and resuscitated him.
When Plato regained consciousness, he angrily accused Socrates of trying to drown him. Socrates matter-of factly explained, “If that had been my intention, I would not have pulled you ashore.”
“Then why did you do that?” Plato demanded.
Socrates calmly replied, “When you desire my knowledge like you desired that breath of air, then you shall have it.”
So many people desire things, but they want them only at an intellectual level. They wish for a wildly romantic long lasting relationship, for financial independence, for fame, or to make a difference in other people’s lives, but for most people, they do not desire it like Plato wanted that breath of air.
Leaders allow, and even encourage, themselves to desire. They create a hunger for things that is as strong as Plato’s desire for air.
Only with a large hunger will you put up with the large discomfort and inconvenience required to be successful. This is the single biggest reason why people aren’t more successful in life and work. They don’t truly NEED it.
The answer is to first create the NEED, then you shall have it.
This is a practical reason for thinking bigger. It is too easy to provide for yourself and even your family. You must go on a hunt to find something more or better that moves you.
Open up to how awful it feels to not be able to read and how you can do something about it, and you will be compelled to take action. Go to a third world country and actually watch someone die of starvation and know that your commitment and cash could have stopped that child from dying.
What spark of desire will you ignite this week? How will you fan those flames into a bonfire of desire?
Develop a hunger for something important. Challenge and test the people you are mentoring or who are your next layer of management or leadership.
Action Step #1
Pick something that truly matters to you that you desire. Visit it. Literally, spend time with that desire and recall all the specific reasons you want that. Share your desire and reasons with select family members and friends.
Let’s say you want a new home. Write down the tangible reasons (i.e. investment value, shorter commute, etc.), pleasure reasons (i.e. recreation, relaxation, etc.), and emotional reasons (i.e. how it will make you feel in terms of freedom, security, self-esteem, etc.).
Action Step #2
Pick prospective leaders from among your key business partners or teammates and give them a test. Individually, have them tackle an ongoing problem. Perhaps it is a negative person or a situation that isn’t being resolved. Give them something meaningful to do, but put them in over their head, too. This is how they get stronger and build muscles. You can be their lifeline if they start to drown.
The major mentor in my life for eight years was a man named Tom Willhite. He died in a plane accident at the age of 43.
Tom’s dream was to build a college, but he didn’t live long enough to see that. To pay him back for all I learned from him, I committed to raising $4 million dollars and putting up an educational facility.
To build my desire into a bonfire of passion, I started by looking at the original plans Tom had and later at the actual architectural drawings. In the middle of the fund-raising campaign, I brought many of the key donors to the actual land and we walked around as the building was going up. I visualized memories of conversations Tom and I had about his dream and I pretended I was showing him the completed buildings in my mind. I imagined his satisfaction and my pride.
This fanning of the flames of desire is crucial, especially when you hit tough spots where things aren’t working as planned or going as well as you want. It helps you refocus and recommit and gives you renewed energy to complete your project.
“The more thou dost advance, the more thy feet pitfalls will meet. The Path that leadeth on is lighted by one fire-the light of daring burning in the heart. The more one dares, the more he shall obtain. The more he fears, the more that light shall pale–and that alone can guide.”