“I need to be realistic. I need to be pragmatic.” How many times have you heard that said – have said it yourself? About your role as leader, and with respect to the pursuit of your personal destiny?
To be an occupier of the C-suite or to aspire to that lofty place, we have learned that being ‘realistic’ is one of the key measures by which we are judged, and by which we must therefore conduct ourselves. With jaws thrust confidently forward, we know that to lead and inspire – to be executorial – we must be ‘realistic’. We must look to all of our future possibilities and leverage our understanding of our context to parse from that future the elements that can, in the end, realistically be achieved. That’s what a leader does.
Of course, being grounded/centered in one’s reality is critical to surviving let alone excelling in this world. But I fear that ‘being realistic’ is all too often – in fact almost always is – a self-limiting filter that screens out possibilities that threaten to challenge us or force us out of our comfort zones, both personally and professionally.
The outcome? We sabotage our own destiny. If we limit or mitigate the potential for failure or disappointment by filtering out possibilities that if seized, illuminate our full potential, we limit the greater likelihood of individual and collective self-actualization.
And why do we do this? Simple. To lesser and greater degrees and sometimes more rather than less, we lack confidence. We are insecure. Our insecurity defines the parameters that in turn shape the filters or lenses through which we perceive our context – our reality. The greater our honest and engaged perception of our context is, the farther out we push those parameters – and so much more of our true destiny is revealed.
To do more than to survive (a pretty low bar), but rather to compete and excel, one must have the confidence to grant oneself permission to perceive and engage reality in all its glory. To not do so is to condemn oneself to compromised banality.
So how ‘realistic’ are you prepared to be?