Wanting Better for Others

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Wanting Better for Others

Black Belt Leadership
Wanting Better for Others
John L. Terry, III - The Black Belt Leader

I had an opportunity to recently reconnect with a family friend who has lived a rather tumultuous life. She ran away from home at an early age, dropped out of school, and has lived her life far below her potential. She has been in and out of jail, is a single mother with children of multiple partners and is currently living in yet another relationship with a man she's not married to. It's a situation I see all to common.

As we talked about her children, she was telling me about all the hopes and dreams she has for them. "They're going to be Straight-A Students, make the Honor Roll, be involved in sports, go to college..." The list goes on. After she talked for a few moments, I asked her a few questions.

Tell me about the children's home life? Are you involved in their lives? Tell me about their daily routine? What steps are you taking today to set them up for success in the future? What values and morals are you teaching them to live out?

She talked around these answers as best she could. Because she dropped out of school, she can't really help them with their homework. She struggles to read. She does attend the PTA and other events at school. They do get out and do things together, but she admitted being inconsistent in keeping them involved in sports and other activities.

I then asked her the BIG question. "Are you modeling success before your children? Are you modeling excellence in the way you live your life? Are you living out the values and morals you want them to embrace as their own?" Her response was startling.

"My children will choose their own morals and values when they get older," she said. "They will be successful because they will stay in school. I'm not going to tell them what to think, or how to think, because I want them to figure that out on their own."

By the time our children are 7-8 years of age, their opinions, values, beliefs, morals, and convictions are formulated. We know from neuroscience a child's mind accepts input without a filter. The "soft-wiring" of our brain by those who have the most influence over us in the early years of life set the stage for our future success...or failure.

What we model before our children is what we embed in their subconscious. When our words and our deeds are not in alignment, our deeds speak louder than our words. The old adage, "Do as I say and not as a do" is a failed philosophy. As my mentor, John Maxwell often says, "People do what people see."

The better we want for others we must first live out ourselves.

The lives we live out before our children is the pattern by which will become "normal" for them. This young mother missed the impact she was making in the lives of her children as she lived out a life of perpetual poor choices, modeling that this lifestyle was "normal" for her children. If excellence isn't modeled, it isn't embraced.

The same is true of any organization you may be leading. What gets modeled gets embraced, and repeated. This is why effective leadership is SO important. Leaders go first. They are the "parents" modeling the attitudes, morals, culture, values, and expected outcomes of the "children" (team members, staff, employees, volunteers) they are leading.

When a leader's saying and doing are not in alignment, those who are following will place far more value on your DOING over your saying. That's why the leader must first model the attributes he or she expects those being lead to also model in their own lives. The failure of many organizations to achieve a high level of success if often a result of the leader failing to live out the BETTER he or she wants from those on the Team.

The better we want for others we must first live out ourselves.

In my book, Black Belt Leadership 101, I talk about accountability as one of the essential character traits of a Black Belt Leader. When we live out our values and model excellence before those we are leading, we are not only setting an expectation they follow your lead, but you as a leader are being accountable to your Team.

As leaders (and parents), we have a significant influence over the outcomes of those we are leading. It's a responsibility we can't take for granted, or neglect to do well.

By observing our followers, we can learn a LOT about our own leadership. What we say, they will repeat. What we do, they will model. What is demonstrated gets repeated. It is the natural law of Cause and Effect in operation. Leaders are parents, so parent well.

The better we want for others we must first live out ourselves.


2X Martial Arts Hall of Fame inductee, John Terry (The Black Belt Leader) is passionate about helping others become Black Belt Leaders in Life. He is a motivational speaker, leadership, sales & communication coach and trainer.   

Jessie Terry, John's daughter, is a Certified Speaker, Coach, and Trainer with the John Maxwell Team and is actively involved in the JMT Global Youth Initiative. She is also a Real-Life Management trained coach and a certified Women-Safe Self-Defense Instructor.

For more information, schedule John (or Jessie) to speak to your organization or to book a personal, group or corporate coaching session, visit our website at www.beablackbeltleader.com.  

If you are a faith-based organization, learn more about John and Jessie's outreach to churches, para-church organizations or faith-based volunteer groups by visiting www.DunamisFactor.com.

John is an Executive Director with the John Maxwell Team and is passionate about helping others pursue excellence as they become "Leaders in Life". He is also a Master Coach & Trainer with Real Life Management, a human behavioral training organization helping people learn how to live "Real Life" and make better choices when it comes to relationships, money, health, and wellness. John is also a certified DISC Human Behavior Consultant.

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