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A Time for Vibrationary Leadership

Posted by Herman Najoli on May 9, 2011

We live in epic times. The flow of our times demands leadership that soars above responding to today’s challenges. We need an ability to discern the future so that we can operate in the realm of sensing tomorrow’s challenges. Two critical leadership competencies needed are: vibrationary leadership and visionary leadership. If you’ve seen the movie Click you may be able to discern how we need to go BEYOND today and into tomorrow. Great vision allows us to get into a vibration mode of life. So much has been said and written about visionary leadership but few people understand vibrationary leadership. I’ll focus on vibrationary leadership in this post.

The difference between visionary and vibrationary leadership is that whereas visionary leadership guides and directs by the power of a compelling desire propelled by a glimpse of the future, vibrationary leadership discerns trends, senses opportunities and taps into potentialities. Understanding the heartbeat of the future is more powerful than any vision we could ever have. We learn this easily from the human body. Before thoughts are deposited in the mind, they are birthed in the heart. The heart is therefore the center of life. Out of it flows the issues of life. The seed of vision is always in the heart. That’s why a visionary has passion and fire in his soul. His heart is ablaze. Vibrationary leaders develop the ability to hear the silent beating of coming changes in society and thus strategically position themselves to make the very best of the moment.

If we are going to be precise in the 21st century, we must be visionary leadership but also learn to embrace vibrationary leadership. Otherwise we shall have visions that will stall in the face of rapid societal changes. A New millenium requires a New strategy. Our organizations should be able to vibrate with the beating of society’s heart. Transitioning from vision to vibration is in essence shifting our focus from seeing to hearing. While it is essential that we be able to see what is happening in our environment, it is much more important that our ears be well tuned in order to hear the silent rumblings of change. This means that our ears should be close to society’s heart and needs. Sound is a series of vibrations moving as waves through air. Ringing a bell for example, sets off vibrations in the air. Detection of these vibrations or sound waves is called hearing. It is essential to understand how the ear works. Humans hear by bone conduction or primarily by detecting airborne sound waves, which are collected by the auricles. The auricles help locate the direction of sound. Then one turns to focus on the direction. Therefore hearing comes before seeing. This is very important.

This transition will require a change from structure to rhythm. We should be able to learn the unforced rhythm of guiding our organizations through transitionary moments. This will require a greater degree of sensitivity. It is this sensitivity to society’s needs that will enable us to engage and participate effectively in what’s happening within our communities.

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Purpose, Vision and Persistence: How your passion can enable you to smash through barriers

Posted by Herman Najoli on October 4, 2010

We all experience moments in life when obstacles seem to crowd our goals and aspirations. Whether you are a leader of an organization, an employee in a department, a small-business owner, a student, the President or even just a regular guy, we have all experienced many barriers to our goals. I’ve seen so many people with great dreams that would add tremendous value to society but every time they try to plug into their dreams, they get knocked down by societal barriers.

Regardless of your situation or status in life, you to know that you can smash any barriers that hinder your life goals and your organization’s direction. I know this full well because my life has been about smashing barriers. I come from a community that is not well regarded in terms of access to higher positions in my country – Kenya. I was denied the opportunity to come to the United States four times before I finally got the Visa. I came to this country with a big dream and only $140 in my pocket. Imagine all the barriers I have had to surmount in order to get to where I am now. When I told people that I wanted to speak for a living, a lot of them said, “You are barking up the wrong tree, son. You’ve got a heavy African accent, no money, no contacts, ….how do you ever expect to do this?” Well, I didn’t have to know the “how” since I had a solid “why”. My passion has been one – to help people – and that is why barriers are getting smashed as I begin to slice the frontiers of developing people and empowering them to live a better life. Here are some ideas:

Three Core Hammers for Smashing Through Barriers

1. Generate a Solid Idea of Your Life Purpose

Purpose is the key to understanding the “why” of life. When you know what your purpose is, you will not lose heart in the face of obstacles and barriers. Understanding purpose enables you to stay committed and motivated towards pursuing your goals. Purpose produces passion and that is essential in overcoming challenges. Leaders in organizations need to have a clear picture of what the organization’s purpose is.

2. Develop an Enduring Vision

Lots of people have vision but very few stick to it when barriers come their way. If you will smash through barriers, you need to have an enduring vision. The United States as a country has come through many generations of challenges because of an enduring vision that was cast by the founding fathers. I succeeded in finally being able to come to the United States because I had an enduring vision.

3. When Knocked Down, Get Back Up – Be Persistent!

I like reading biographies. One of the stories I have enjoyed so much was that of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln had a steady stream of barriers throughout his life and he smashed through all of them. Look at this:

In 1816 his family was forced out of their home. He had to work to support them. In 1818 his mother died. In 1831 he failed in business. In 1832 he ran for state legislature and lost. In 1832 he lost his job and wanted to go to law school but couldn’t get in.In 1833 he borrowed money from a friend to begin a business and by the end of the next year he was bankrupt. He spent the next 17 years of his life paying off this debt. In 1834 he ran for state legislature again and won. In 1835 he was engaged to be married. His sweetheart died and his heart was broken. In 1836 he had a total nervous breakdown and was in bed for six months. In 1838 he sought to become speaker of the state legislature but was defeated. In 1840 he sought to become elector but was defeated. In 1843 he ran for congress and lost. In 1846 he ran for congress again. This time he won, went to Washington and did a good job.In 1848 he ran for reelection to congress and lost. In 1849 he sought the job of land officer in his home state and was rejected. In 1854 he ran for Senate of the United States but lost. In 1856 he sought the Vice-Presidential nomination at his party’s convention and got less that 100 votes. In 1858 he ran for US Senate again – again, he lost. In 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States!

My! That’s a long list of barriers for just one single guy! But you know what? He had purpose, vision and persistence. You can do it too! Let’s smash through barriers!

Posted in Creating, Engaging, Fulfillment, Interacting, Leadership, Organization, Participating, Wisdom | 1 Comment »

Firing Missiles from Canoes

Posted by Herman Najoli on September 11, 2010

Robert Schuller once said that “You can’t fire a missile from a canoe”. A leader’s vision for his organization may sometimes be limited by current structures in the organization. There are also times when vision may be limited by structures that are not present within the organization. The organization’s objectives too play a great role in determining the results that will be yielded. There must be a solid foundation that ensures that any goals pursued will be achieved satisfactorily.

How then do we ensure that our output will be measurable to our input without having to demolishing our present structures? How do we develop a system that allows us to fire missiles from canoes without toppling over into the water? Every vision needs to be strengthened by the underlying philosophies and values that guide the organization. You can’t expect to achieve a big vision when the guiding philosophies do not match up to the vision. You cannot expect to accomplish great things when your strategy is flawed. Here are some ideas that can enable you to secure an output that is worthy of your input:

1. Have a Mission that matches your Vision

A company’s daily undertakings need to fit into the bigger picture of it’s ultimate objectives. Many organizations have dropped the ball by engaging in activities that are outside the range of the company vision. Vision is guarded by staying on the critical path with the company mission. Do this and you will be able to fire missiles from your canoe. I guarantee it!

2. Develop Goals that align with your Philosophy

Company philosophy is crucial to the outcomes and output of an organization. Your goals should align with the values that the company holds dearest. Every organization needs to clarify what it is that it holds as fundamental to it’s existence. Enron failed because the leaders’ activities veered off the course of the company’s core values. Your have to hold onto your core values.

3. Create a Strategy that builds on your Accomplishments

Strategy is the key to building value in an organization. Value is measured by an organization’s accomplishments. The more a company accomplishes, the more it acquires a competitive advantage over other companies within that industry. Strategy therefore is key to the long-term existence of a company.

These three keys, applied in an orderly manner, will not only ensure that you fire missiles from your canoe but also build an organization that lasts.

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Enthusiasm: The Bedrock of Passion; The Key to Potential

Posted by Herman Najoli on March 5, 2010

Ralph Waldo Emerson, that great essayist and poet whose been quoted so many times, once said, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm”. Enthusiasm is the bedrock of passion and the key to maximizing one’s personal potential. Henry David Thoreau said that the mass of men live lives of quiet desperation. In other words, they do not have a passion for anything. They have nothing to stand for, so they fall for anything that comes their way. How then, can we break through and find something worth standing for?

The key is in having a desire to make a difference. Making a difference could mean changing the way things are or simply contributing to a social condition or situation. Desire is the ignition key, so to speak, of passion. You cannot pursue something unless you really have a desire for it. We generate enthusiasm by having positive desires that will contribute towards a better life and society. Let’s work on generating greater enthusiasm.

Posted in Creating, Engaging, Fulfillment, Interacting, Leadership, Organization, Participating, Wisdom | 2 Comments »

Leadership Anatomy

Posted by Herman Najoli on February 20, 2010

One of the key characteristics of an epic life is being in the flow of leadership. A few weeks ago I drove by a bakery and discovered the anatomy of leadership. I was attracted to the bakery by a group of people that were hanging out to get some free bread. I came up with the following four things that leaders should follow:

1. Follow your ear (I heard the noise)

Learn to act on what you hear your followers whisper. If you can act on the whispers, you won’t have to react to the screams later on. Sensitize your ear to the imperceptible cries of your people. Your ear should be able to vibrate with what is resounding from the lives of your followers. A leader should always have his ear on the ground but not all the time because if you are always bent on the ground and listening you can’t be able to see ahead. There must be a balance. The leaders ear must ring with the voices of the people. 
 
2. Follow your nose (Oh the smell of bread!)

Strive to perfect your ability to smell what is coming. I learnt this from watching leopards hunt back home in the plains of Kenya. Their main advantage is that they can smell their prey from very far. Let us endeavor to smell the future before it arrives. The better your leadership smell buds, the more accurate you will be in anticipating inevitable happenings. The leadership nose is able to determine what is good and what is bad. We like what smells good isn’t it? Leaders should be able to sense the flavor before serving their followers. That’s the key to winning their hearts. 
 
3. Follow your eyes (I saw the crowd)

This is where many leaders lose it. They leap before they look. In more adverse situations, they think before they look. I would like to change a very popular saying. They say “Look before you leap” but I say, “Look before you think and then think before you leap.” As a leader, you must be able to first analyse a situation, synthesise it and then pounce on it. Because leaders possess the big picture and see the whole view before their followers, they can easily be enticed by what looks appealing. Leaders should be able to see, then use their minds and determine the right course of action.

4. Follow your gut (I sensed they were getting free bread)

Intution is a leader’s best friend. This is something that many leaders have yet to fully grasp. You can’t teach anyone how to listen to the gut. It’s something that is cultivated personally. Just a little wisdom to help you as you do this: THE GUT SIGNAL is like red lights flashing within you. Leaders should be able to sense things so that they are not caught unawares.

Ear, nose, eyes and gut – the anatomy of leadership!

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On Eagles, Geese, Turkeys, Crows, Vultures, and Hawks

Posted by Herman Najoli on September 8, 2009

Eagles have always been representative of high calibre leaders. They don’t flock like geese but rather fly solo. While this may rob them of the ability to draft from each other, it provides them with some crucial advantages that are essential for vision development, maintenance, and casting. Here are two: 

One, an eagle and a turkey react very differently to the threat of a storm. A turkey runs under the barn, hoping the storm won’t come near. The eagle, on the other hand, leaves the security of its nest and spreads its wings to ride the air currents of the approaching storm, knowing they will carry it higher than it could soar on its own.

Two, when an eagle is attacked by a pack of crows it doesn’t fight back. All it does is simply fly higher and higher, knowing that pretty soon the crows won’t be able to fly any higher. The eagle plays smart rather than lose its sensibility in the mindless games of small-thinking crows.

What additional insights can high calibre leaders gain from eagle-like thinking? Here are six marks:

1. Eagles are catalysts of experiences – Eagles make things happen based on their skills and abilities. They walk the road less traveled, defying models in order to blaze new trails. They make epic experiences happen.

2. Eagles possess great vision and execution – Eagles don’t perch on a tree and wait for the cows to come home. They go out and look for opportunities. They are not risk averse. They know when to unleash their cards.

3. Eagles are change agents – Eagles influences others in positive ways. They are 360° influencers. Their influence is not restricted by any categories or attributes. They confound the simple while dazzling the enlightened.

4. Eagles are multipliers of value – Eagles multiply the value of what they touch. Geese add value, turkeys subtract value, while crows divide value. Some groups are infested with vultures who prey on value!

5. Eagles empower eagles – Eagles don’t hang out with hawks. Hawks are pretenders. They are self-conceited, wait for the vultures to leave the carcass before they swarm in to make an even greater mess.

6. Eagles are sources of creativity – Eagles hunt for ideas that result in quantum transformation. They bring about the revolutionary advances that cement their status as high calibre leaders. Let the eagles fly!

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Four Competencies of Great Leadership

Posted by Herman Najoli on June 28, 2009

In living an epic life, you also have the priviledge of modeling leadership to those around you. There are four quadrants of leadership: bad leadership, average leadership, good leadership and great leadership. You want to be in the “great leadership” quadrant.

Good leadership takes people from point A to point B. Great leadership does a lot of great stuff, like empowering people so that they can go from point A to point B. What other competencies do great leaders embody? 

First, they articulate a clear and compelling vision.

They are visionary. They communicate a common vision that gives people a purpose and meaning. It outlines the priorities of the group and the direction that is is going in. 

Second they act confidently and optimistically.

The leader’s confidence, conviction and optimism is contagious. It rubs off on the followers. Lack of this weakens leadership of its potential.

Third, they express confidence in their followers

Great leaders have high confidence in people and make them feel good about themselves. They foster their confidence and optimism.

Lastly, they lead by example.

One leadership proverb says, “Example is the main thing in influencing others.” Their example leverages the whole organization and enables people to come into their full potential.

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Change as Foundational to Creativity and Key to Leadership

Posted by Herman Najoli on March 23, 2009

Let us look at the flow of life, with the river as our metaphoric guide. First thing you must realize is that you can’t step into the same river twice. The water at any point of the river is always changing – that’s the key to freshness! If we will stay fresh in the flow of our lives we must understand that change is contant. Change is foundational to creativity because you can’t bring in the new without getting rid of the old. Change is the key to leadership because a leader sees what others haven’t seen and helps them to see it for themselves.

People need to understand that change is part of life. Success in living an epic life requires a certain degree of openness to change. Most people struggle with handling change because it causes the 3 D’s – discomfort, disruption and dislocation. A crucial part of the process of handling change will involve helping people handle the dis’s and get pluses out them. Let us explore how we can do that:

Discomfort – Change requires difficult adjustments by people. Adjustments can cause stress and bring tension to groups. In some cases change has been known to lead to depression in some people and a mutiny from others. Uncertainty about the results of the change can bring fatigue and frustration. The key to avoiding all this is to ensure that people know in advance what to expect and how to deal with it. The discomfort of change can be prevented by preparing people adequately for the coming changes.

Disruption – When significant changes are made, some people experience personal pain at the loss of familiar things to which they had become very attached. This can be a source of great trauma. Leaders can help people by allowing them to verbalize their sense of loss and grief, and then gently pointing them to the benefits of the change and the bright new future ahead of them.

Dislocation – Any change, whether it involves new strategies, new programs, new equipment, new work procedures, new facilities, new management practices or new leaders, disrupts an existing order and leads to discontinuity. In a time of change, leaders should frequently explain what is happening and keep their people informed. People will be more optimistic if they know the change is progressing successfully. Leaders should frequently communicate what steps have been initiated, what changes have been completed and what resulting improvements have occurred.

Handling these three dis’s appropriately will be the key to avoiding the dreaded dis of change – disaster! In order for us to live epic lives – lives free of disaster – we must embrace change. Change is essential for creativity to flourish, change is necessary for leadership to prosper. In the next post we will discuss how we “see” in the quest for creativity.

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Are You Living An Epic Life?

Posted by Herman Najoli on March 9, 2009

The epitome of true success in life is being able to live a life of significance. I call this an epic life. Significance is found in contributing towards causes that make the world a better place for fellow human beings. Zig Ziglar is famous for saying that “You can achieve anything you want in this world if you will help enough other people get what they want”. An epic life really begins when we live outside ourselves and share our lives with others.

Here are five fundamental keys to living an epic life. These are simple fundamentals that will empower you on your quest for significance:

1. Be a people-builder, not an ego-builder

The majority of human beings are focused on building their egos. To attain a significant life you must be a people-builder. people builders don’t do things because of what they get out of it. They contribute to enriching other people’s lives because they love people.

2. Embrace a bigger vision than self-pursuits

A person’s significance can be measured by the size of his or her vision. Does your vision include other people? If so, in what way? Is it about empowering and equipping others? Self-pursuits may gain us a few toys in life but they never bring true significance in life.

3. Seek opportunities to contribute

Life is shaped in our moments of contribution. People can be divided into two groups: those who contribute and those who consume. Contributors find increased value in life by pursuing a lifestyle of adding value to others. They are difference makers.   

4. Enlarge your concept of family

Most of us have a healthy understanding of our families and our place in those families. Significance demands that we think beyond our nuclear families to our place in the human family. By thinking in such manner, we are able to develop connections that enable us to significantly help others. 

5. Discover the power of giving

Giving comes in many forms. One can give of their time through volunteering, one can give money by making donations to difference making organizations and one can also give of their property to ensure that others live a better life. Through giving, we are able to change other people’s lives, and in so doing, we change ourselves!

Posted in Creating, Engaging, Fulfillment, Interacting, Leadership, Participating, Wisdom | 1 Comment »

Transitioning from Next Level Thinking to a Living a Life of Legacy

Posted by Herman Najoli on March 1, 2009

People today are consumed with the idea of going to the next level in their lives, be it in their relationships, careers, finances or other area of life. While this is great because it motivates them, I find it to be an idea that can limit our true potential. My paradigm is that we need to be consumed with the idea of the kind of legacy we will leave behind at the end of the seasons of our lives.

Thinking about your legacy every day, rather than thinking about the next level only, makes you a better leader. I also believe that thinking about a legacy makes you other-people centered while thinking about going to the next level tends to make one self-centered.

How do you transition from thinking about the next level to thinking about developing a legacy?

1. Be more focused on other people rather yourself

The idea of being a ‘people person’ has been around for a long time. Dale Carnegie’s 1936 masterpiece, ‘How to Win Friends and influence People’, has helped so many people over the years to develop a people-centered perspective that has enabled them to leave great legacies. I would highly suggest a reading of the book. 

2. Ask how you can help rather than what others can do for you.

President John F. Kennedy immediately became a world figure with his acceptance speech in which he said, ” And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you -ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.” In order to leave a legacy you must ascend in thought to where you are asking what you can do for others rather than what they can do for you. 

3. Be a giver more than a receiver

Nothing shapes a legacy more than the spirit of giving. When you give of yourself to others you become a part of the solution. It’s solution-centered thinking that sets the pace for the kind of legacy a person will leave behind. Again, when one is thinking of going to the next level, the pre-dominant question is “What can I get (or receive) that will take me to the next level?” When one is thinking of leaving a legacy, the pre-dominant question is “What can I give that will help others?” Be more of a giver and your legacy will be unshakable because the truth is that what we give is ours forever!

4. Be a leader more than a follower

Leaders impact and influence other people greatly. The great thing about being a leader is that you are able to take other people to the next level as you develop a legacy. What a beauty! Leaders pass along the best in themselves to other people. I’m always pleased when I hear from people I led in high school and at the university. They always say things like, “Herman, that idea was awesome. It took our group to a whole new level.” While those short-term moves were great for whichever group I led, the best thing is that a legacy was developed because even today they still talk about what we did.

Are you living for the next level or developing a legacy for and with your people? Start shaping your legacy today. 

Posted in Creating, Engaging, Fulfillment, Interacting, Leadership, Organization, Participating, Wisdom | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

 
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