Staying on target with your unique calling means mastering the following 8 virtues. I’ve coupled them into soft and hard virtues, kind of like yin and yang, where yin is inner, reflection, stillness, potential, feminine, flowing and soft, while yang is outer, work, action, performance masculine, rigid and hard.
It’s a dichotomy, a balance and sometimes a tug of war between these virtues. You’ll need to discipline yourself to conform to these as ideas until they become habits. But when you find the balance, each of these virtue couplets becomes an infinite loop with a virtue on each side. They flow endlessly back and forth between each other. Part of the Kokoro mindset is to appreciate that flow instead of struggling back and forth between one or the other.
The Biblical prophet Ezekiel talks about this when he says that God will take the heart of stone out of you (Israel) and replace it with a heart of flesh. He had written commandments for them on stone tablets, but He was now going to write them on their hearts. Good and right behavior would flow out of them, instead of endless straining to conform to impossibly high standards. That’s what you’re after, virtue that flows effortlessly from a heart refined by truth.
Authentic Leader Virtues
Simplicity and Boldness
Simplicity is action. When you develop a plan, your brain tries to be clever to make things more complex than they need to be. You have to find simplicity on the other side of that complexity. Less is more. Steve Jobs was a great proponent of it in Apple’s products. It’s difficult and takes a warrior’s approach to act that way.
On the other side of simplicity is boldness. Don’t mistake simplicity with weakness, ease or timidity. The best approach is boldness. A great example is Elon Musk. His vision for his companies is very simple but backed by an extraordinarily bold attitude and approach. That’s a warrior virtue.
Excellence and Non-Attachment
A warrior strives for excellence in everything you do. Day by day you get better and better. That’s your mantra. You’re seeking a consistent 1% improvement in your horizontal and vertical skills. For a SEAL your horizontal, or tactical, skills would be things like your ability to shoot, lead others, communicate and understand military strategy, etc. Your vertical or personal development skills would be the five mountains in this book. Excellence could be found in striving for daily micro-improvements in your work toward mastering each of the principles.
The soft side is not to be too attached to your achievements, mastery or fulfillment of your goals. Enjoy the journey. You don’t have to be perfect. You’re just aiming to be better. Non-attachment leads to humility.
Drive and Contentment
The warrior is driven to win, succeed and master her or his craft and trade. You’re driven to fulfill your mission and build a better world. At the same time, a warrior must be content. Often people with drive are malcontents. They never feel they’ve done or achieved enough. But wherever you’re at, you’re there because of you. Your actions over the last 3-5 years have gotten you there. If you’re not content, change it. Choose to be somewhere else 3-5 years from now. But learn to be content with where you are right now.
My friend, Dan Sullivan, calls people who are malcontent, those who haven’t navigated the gap properly. The gap is the difference between how you measure your progress and your actual progress. Most people look ahead and measure where they want to be compared to where they are. The gap they see leads to malcontent. In actuality, you should measure where you are with where you were. Seeing that gap helps you see tremendous progress and fuels you with momentum, energy and confidence.
The other thing that leads people to discontentment is lack of appreciation for the abundance of where they are now. This causes them to act out of scarcity. One of my mentors, Peter Diamandis, has really helped me appreciate how abundant the world is now compared to 50 years ago and how much better it’s getting. It makes the task ahead seem like a joy because I see all the people I’ve impacted, not the great many I can never reach.
Trust and Respect
Trust is action. You act out of trust to demonstrate your trust. It proves that you’re trustworthy. You also respect those who you trust. The more you respect yourself, the more trustworthy you become.
Start by developing an attitude of respect. Respect your own life, potential and calling. We’re all unique and important and deserve respect at some level. When you learn to respect yourself, you can respect others. When you begin to respect others you become more trustworthy and show up with more humility and better behavior. At a team level, this becomes a virtuous loop, cementing a bond which allows a much higher level of performance.