I continue to very much enjoy writing my latest book (working title is Thriving in Turbulent Times.) The book’s central model is around our choices to deal with change and adversity in our lives by leading, following, or wallowing. I’ll continue to post short excerpts like this one of my work in progress.

To wallow is to bitterly complain “they are doing it to us again.” To follow is to passively wait for “somebody to do something.” To lead is to move forward with the conviction that “I am going to do something about this.” If it is to be, it’s up to me. Leading means taking initiative. Leading is going and showing the way. Leading uses persuasion rather than position of power. Like the best navigators in the days of sailing ships, leading means figuring out how to capitalize on – or overcome – the conditions nature or life throws at us.

Many people think narrowly of leadership as an appointed role. In our organizations and institutions we do need clarity around roles and responsibilities. It needs to be evident where “the buck stops” and who’s in charge. But the action of leading – living above the line, seeing new possibilities, encouraging and supporting, reframing, harnessing the winds of change to move forward, and overcoming helplessness with hopefulness – needs to be broadly shared by everyone everywhere regardless of formal roles or positions. The scope of their leadership might be determined by roles, but the actions of leadership are determined by approach. To thrive above the line in turbulent or calm times we all need to be leaders in all aspects of our lives. Leadership must be a verb, not a noun. True leadership is defined by what we do, not the position we hold.

Leaders don’t wait, they initiate. Leading ourselves and others up the leadership stairs is the route to good health, happiness, and success. We need “leaderful” teams and organizations to move everyone upward to ever higher performance and results. “I/we are going to do something” is the language of success. “Something must be done” is the language of failure.