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Leadership: Ignorance Can Be a Good Thing

How many times have you heard “Knowledge is power”? Knowledge can also kill your power.

How many times have you heard “Knowledge is power”? Knowledge can also kill your power.

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One of the most difficult roadblocks to get past with my clients is when they become successful. Many many years ago I used to do an exercise with my clients on SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and tangible). They used to set short term and long term goals. When they reached their half way point, way too often they would back off and plateau. This wasn’t the kind of plateau that George Leonard speaks about when he says you achieve mastery while plateauing; it’s the kind of plateau where you hit a brick wall and start regressing because something inside you says “I never thought I’d ever get this far. Maybe I should quit while I’m ahead and not press my luck”. Sound familiar?

Luck has nothing to do with it. My clients achieve success because of hard work, determination and an energy that won’t get them down. Sometimes the process can bring you down and sometimes too much information can stop you dead as well. What do you have to pay attention to and what shouldn’t you pay attention to?

I’m not stating this is the only way to go and that it would work for the masses (caveat ahead of time). For years I’ve been asked about my business plan. “What is your 5 or 10 year business plan so you can measure your success against it?” How many set goals for themselves that seem realistic but they’re sidetracked, make new decisions to go in a different direction or decide they wanted to make new choices in their lives? Then along come friends, colleagues and family members who ask “Whatever ever happened to….?” and self-confidence flies out the window as you find yourself making excuses as to why you’re not already successful.

How many set goals and plans for themselves and miss incredible opportunities along the way? If I had stuck to “the plan” half of the amazing opportunities that have presented themselves over the years would have been tossed aside or completely ignored.

Starting out, many who are now successful leaders didn’t necessarily have all the knowledge they needed to start a company or dive into a profession but their passions guided them there. As they didn’t gather the data or speak to so called experts who would tell them it couldn’t happen, it didn’t occur to them that it couldn’t happen. Rather they knew they would do all they needed to do to make things happen.

When I broke away from being an associate with a large national company I didn’t look for all the data that would back up why I would fail on my own. I didn’t look at statistics or gather reams of information. What I did do was listen to what the needs were of the people around me and figure out what I could do to meet those needs and then some. For me, ignorance with regards to the business piece of my practice was bliss, and because of that, every year I reach a new high in my work and my life.

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You could either look at all the ‘why nots’ or say “Why not?” Choice is yours. Next time you have the opportunity to meet with someone successful in their field, ask them how much was planned and how much just happened. And if you’d like to share some of that with us, great. We’d love to hear!

For all my neighbours south of the border, wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving!

Donna Karlin • Executive and Political Shadow Coach™ • Ottawa, Canada • •www.abetterperspective.com

About the author

Donna Karlin CEC, Diplomate IABMCP and founder and principal of A Better Perspective® & The School of Shadow Coaching, has pioneered the specialized practice of Shadow Coaching® with global political, government, business and senior organizational leaders in the public and private sectors. Donna capitalizes on almost 30 years of experience in coaching, consulting and training to help clients and their organizations evolve into their level of excellence.

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