Marine leaders are expected to eat last because the true price of leadership is the willingness to place the needs of others above your own. Great leaders truly care about those they are privileged to lead and understand that the true cost of the leadership privilege comes at the expense of self-interest. When the people have to manage dangers from inside the organization, the organization itself becomes less able to face the dangers from outside. It is the company we keep, the people around us, who will determine where we invest our energy. The more we trust that the people to the left of us and the people to the right of us have our backs, the better equipped we are to face the constant threats from the outside together. Only when we feel we are in a Circle of Safety will we pull together as a unified team, better able to survive and thrive regardless of the conditions outside. Letting someone into an organization is like adopting a child and welcoming them into your home. These people will, like everyone else who lives there, have to share in the responsibility of looking after the household and the others who live in it. We cannot tell people to trust us. We cannot instruct people to come up with big ideas. And we certainly canâ€™t demand that people cooperate. These are always resultsâ€”the results of feeling safe and trusted among the people with whom we work. This is what work-life balance means. It has nothing to do with the hours we work or the stress we suffer. It has to do with where we feel safe. The only thing we can do is create environments in which the right chemicals are released for the right reasons. And if we get the environment right, if we create organizational cultures that work to the natural inclinations of the human animal, the result will be an entire group of self-motivated people. Itâ€™s not how smart the people in the organization are; itâ€™s how well they work together that is the true indicator of future success or the ability to manage through struggle. Bad Cultures Breed Bad Leaders (this was actually a section heading, but I loved it) Making all the right decisions is not what engenders trust between people or between people and organizations. Being honest does. A leaderâ€™s legacy is only as strong as the foundation they leave behind that allows others to continue to advance the organization in their name. Legacy is not the memory of better times when the old leader was there. Thatâ€™s not legacy, thatâ€™s nostalgia. Good leadership is like exercise. We do not see any improvement to our bodies with day-to-day comparisons. In fact, if we only compare the way our bodies look on a given day to how they looked the previous day, we would think our efforts had been wasted. Itâ€™s only when we compare pictures of ourselves over a period of weeks or months that we can see a stark difference. The impact of leadership is best judged over time.
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