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The Four D's of Leadership

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The Four D's of Leadership
The impact of four key leadership words.

There is a chapter in the book I’ve just finished writing that deals with “D words.”

I think “D words” are important. So important they found a place in the eight-volume management series I wrote and published at the beginning of this century.

The first four “D words” I discussed were desire, discipline, determination and drive.

I suggested that three of these four words are among the most essential elements of character, or the very core of who you are, and that character—an essential “C word”—is all about the choices we make when no one is looking.

Other than a couple close friends, our son, Ryan, is the only one on the planet who has seen the manuscript. He liked it! And, he forwarded a list of really excellent comments, questions and suggestions, just about all of which I incorporated. I say, “just about all,” because there was one exception. Ryan wanted to know why I felt compelled to string so many similar words in meaning together. Specifically, he was referring to the four “D words” mentioned above.

Like all of his comments, I took what he had to say seriously. While these words are similiar,. there are subtle and highly nuanced differences that carry even greater meaning when they appear together.

I may not distinguish those differences in the same way everyone else might. But, I think an explanation is appropriate.

Desire, simply stated, is something you want; something you would like to possess. Think about everyone you know. Think about the human condition. There are things we would all would like. We’ve all got desires of one kind or another, both personal and professional.

“I want to run a marathon! I’d like to become a black belt. I need to take my business to the next level: over $1 million or $2 million in sales or more!”

The real question is, what do we do with those desires? And, the sad commentary is, most of us do nothing more than fantasize about them. Most of us are satisfied using those desires to fuel our daydreams and not much else. We’re not willing to take the next step and do the work.

For desires to be more than the stuff of daydreams, we have to sprinkle them with a little action! Discipline is important. Critical, in fact. Discipline is the mental toughness it takes to do what has to be done, even when you aren’t motivated to do it!

Of course, discipline works best when you are motivated, but, by definition, it doesn’t have to work that way.

Drive is really all about motivation. As in, “I am driven to fix my business!” Or, “I am driven to break that habit!” Certainly, there are external forces that could drive you to do something. Even something you don’t really want to do. But, for the most part, when we talk about drive, we’re talking about the fire in your belly that compels you to do whatever has to be done in order to accomplish your goals and objectives.

Like most words, determination can have more than one meaning. But, when I talk about determination, you can be pretty sure I’m talking about a firmness of purpose.]

You can have desire, but without determination, discipline and drive you’ve got nothing.

You can have determination, but without desire, discipline and drive, your efforts will remain unfocused.

You can be disciplined, but without determination, drive and desire you just might find yourself wondering: disciplined to what end?

And, finally, you may find yourself driven—self-propelled toward a certain goal or objective—but without desire, determination and discipline, the chances are high your journey will take longer and cost more, both physically and emotionally, than it would if all four “D words” were present and working in concert.

There is one more “D word” that should be considered here. That “D word” is dedication. And, it just may be the most powerful of all the “D words” because it speaks to a critical “P word”: passion.

Words—like the ones I’ve discussed—matter. They matter because words are the pigments used to color the canvas of our lives with success.  They matter even more when used in conjunction with one of the most critical of all “L words,” leadership!

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