My family hails from Ireland. County Cork, to be precise. This is the ancestral home of many of the McCarthy lines around the world.
Perhaps because of my Celtic origins, I’ve developed an affinity over the years for a good glass of Scotch, Whiskey or Bourbon. In addition to a great cup of coffee, I’ve had many enjoyable conversations about life and leadership over a tumbler – for me – neat, or on the rocks.
The allure to me is not only the finished product – which is often masterful – but also the process of creating it. Many of the distilleries in Scotland and Ireland have historical roots all the way back into the 1700 or 1800s.
In my mind, this creates a unique bond between past and present. I like to envision conversations taking place with past generations sharing, in essence, the exact same beverage.
This combination of product and process also represents the ultimate expression of our leadership – a perfect blend of art and science. The best leaders in the world seem to effortlessly synthesize these in perfect proportion, and in the process create something of value that can also be passed from generation to generation.
This “effortless” appearance is, of course, deceptive. The reality is that behind these great men and women are years of study, development of skills and abilities (the science), and the blending of those with their individual unique designs (the art).
They’ve found their highest and best.
And that brings us back to our conversation from last week.
Today, I’ll ask you to consider several additional questions which give further insight into your unique design. For senior leaders, these will most likely be refreshers, and for younger leaders they may be new ideas.
First, what stirs your heart to action? What burdens you? What problems would you like to see solved? What value would you like to add? What do you envision yourself accomplishing and leaving behind for others to benefit from?
These questions help zero in on your passion. And it is OK to have more than one thing you are passionate about. For now, just get everything on paper.
Second, what do you envision your purpose to be? Your purpose is the tangible expression of your passion, and can take many forms throughout your life and career. Think of it as your “life assignment.”
Third, how can you begin aligning your time, unique design and financial resources towards the accomplishment of your purpose?
This alignment doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it may take many years. It largely depends on your age and stage of life.
When we are young, we are primarily concerned with establishing professional credibility, and developing our competency and character. In short, building a firm foundation.
As we get older, we should intentionally transition into more of an influence mode. We tap into our years of experience and use that to help prepare the next generation. Normally this is when the alignment really begins to occur.
For me, this happened last year. All the pieces finally came together that allowed me to do what I’m most passionate about, which is to mentor, coach and develop leaders.
We’ve barely scratched the surface today on what is a lifelong journey of discovery and growth.
Don’t rush it. Enjoy it. And let yourself dream a little about the amazing possibilities on the road ahead. Better yet — share your dreams with a friend over a nice glass of single malt.