I have recently been chatting with some friends who are at an about 5 year old start up whose management just makes you wonder how the heck they ever made it into a leadership position.

These recent conversations have also made me better understand how some people are really not fit for leadership and simply fall into these positions based on who they know, resumes they have built up, and perhaps people they have stepped on to get there. That said, it’s also made me appreciate the leaders who have lead by inspiration and truly believe in others, and by default others end up following them.

In my opinion, there are two ways of leading: 1) Leadership by Inspiration and Empowerment and, 2) Leadership by Fear and Arrogance.
What’s ironic is that I know leadership at this start up very well and have seen the leadership shift over time. I have seen it lead by a group of people who were inspired and thus inspired others, and have seen it now being led by management that leads by fear and arrogance.

What’s interesting is how bad moral and innovation is affected when fear is the main driver. When employees are simply “going through the motions” and all they care about is not losing their jobs. I am totally against this tactic. Think about this for a second. What happens when countries are plagued by fear? You see mass exoduses or defection, and the inevitable revolution. Sure, fear keeps the proverbial “assembly line” going yet isn’t it a matter of time until the people revolt? – And in the world of business revolting means not caring or looking for other opportunities. How can fear be an effective tactic? Especially in today’s world where there are opportunities everywhere, of course relative to the days of the baby boomers and before and ESPECIALLY in technology and the world of start ups. I personally have walked from opportunities a few times based on awful leadership.

As you can tell I am very much affected by this topic simply because leadership is something that I take very seriously and understand the impact that it has on people’s lives – both short and long term.
For me it boils down to what your motivation to lead is all about. You are either leading for the greater good or your selfish/arrogant needs. People forget that companies consist of human beings. Human beings that have families and friends and in the web world, often times are young trying to figure out their own path in life. Bad leadership can and will affect its employees. Trust me, it’s happened to me.

So I pose the question: What is it – Fear or Inspiration? What motivates you to succeed?

This post is inspired by a fellow yogi friend of mine. The dynamics of being a part of a yoga studio are quite interesting. To many, it’s a place where people seek answers to life’s questions by tapping into their mind and body via this meditative state. I’ve actually been doing yoga for nearly 2 years and am still trying to completely surrender into meditation and not think about all life’s nonsense, thoughts, during my practice. Regarding my yogi friend, I don’t know her much outside of the studio yet could tell that she was a smart young lady and a go-getting. And during a recent SMS chat with her we were talking about achieving great things in life and how I felt that her future was bright beyond her currently day job; which mind you is not too bad. She works for probably the most prestigious investment banking firm in the world. Yet, I have become increasingly aware of how many of these organizations operate and that at times employees are overworked and under-appreciated. In my opinion, I believe that people either get burned out and become jaded or turn into the seemingly heartless monsters they once saw in others; both very sad outcomes.

Why is this? Why do we stick around at jobs that make us sad or we dislike? Are we scared of change? Are we afraid of the unknown? – I think the answer is yes for many of us. We use the excuse of having to put food on the table for ourselves or our family; which is obviously important. Yet does this mean that we have to live in misery in order to accomplish this? I am serious! Is this really living life to the fullest?

I believe that the answer is having faith in life. When you were a baby in your mothers whom you had zero idea what would happen next. Yet you surrender to the natural course of events and things worked out as they were meant to. Now, I’m not saying quit your job and sit on the couch and wait for something to happen, yet I am saying to take a deep breath and confront the fear of the unknown. The fear that is keeping you unsatisfied at work and break your belief barriers. For me personally, breaking my belief barriers meant, realizing that I was capable of achieving as much success as I wanted to in life. And for me, part of how I quantified success was building businesses and inspiring as many people as possible along the way. That belief barrier was broken nearly 8 years ago during my junior year in college. Part of that process was understanding that it was a commitment in itself to continue to believe and motivate myself. I had to also understand that there was a journey involved and that it would not come overnight. And well, here I am 8 years later, still pursuing my goals and loving the journey. My blog is unique in that it is not a story of someone who has already achieved immense success, yet is the diary of my journey and when possible the journeys of the people who are growing along with me towards achieving our personal successes.

I decided to add a few steps that I have identified that might help others realize their passions and begin their journey towards personal success.

1) Get Inspired – I know this is easier said than done and it may take a while to find, yet find that thing that fills you up with joy. Steve Jobs speaks about having to have an undying passion of your craft or business and how without it you will not be able to persevere through the difficult moments that will confront you during your journey. This is a VERY VERY important step. Once you have identified this passion think about how you can build a business around it. Think about the people you can help and the pieces that you will have to bring together to begin building.

2) Help Others From The Heart – I can’t stress this enough. It’s got to be about more than just the money. Sure I want to accumulate financial wealth via my businesses, yet aside of the personal fulfillment, it’s about building something that is greater than I am alone. It’s about building a company that will inspire its employees and their families, and empower them to be great. So whether you are starting a yoga studio or building the next Google, don’t forget that your company is only as special as the sum of its parts and the greater and happier those parts are the greater your business will be.

3) Do it Right – Doing it right can mean many things. Yet, when I say do it right, I mean working harder than you have ever worked, being honest, and maintain your integrity. Look, I get that we are not perfect. Trust me, I am far from perfect yet at the end of the day we represent our business and our business should represent who we are. Making sure that we strive to be the best people we can be will yield great dividends in life and business.

I will continue to think through the concept of “Realizing Your Passion, Leading To Your Success” and write as I learn, yet for now I want everyone who feels that they are not living life the way that they want to or feels that they are destined for greater things to take the FIRST STEP and GET INSPIRED.

I’d love to hear your stories of acquiring inspiration. Please post a comment below if you feel compelled to do so…