My observation is that sacrifice is not a popular notion in our culture. It has bad implications. When you sacrifice, you lose something, you give something up. It might be hard, uncomfortable, even painful. Who would want that?
Pleasure is a very popular notion in our culture. It has a good vibe. It is now. It is fun. It is satisfying. Pleasure is easy, immediate, and without responsibility. No worries. Who would NOT want that?
As leaders, I encourage you to examine this question thoroughly. Figure out the answer. Does a great leader have to sacrifice? What happens if a leader chooses personal pleasure over sacrifice? What are the outcomes?
Let’s think about the greatest leaders in the history of the world – pick your personal favorite. Did they sacrifice anything to achieve greatness? Did the great athlete sacrifice anything to help the team reach their goal? Did the great political leader sacrifice anything to serve a higher purpose? Did the business leader who led the company to high performance give up anything on the way to the destination?
“You aren’t going to find anybody that’s going to be successful without making a sacrifice.”~ Lou Holtz
Why is this? It is because the highest goals, the highest purpose, require that you give up things of lesser value to reach the higher value. Yesterday I wanted to sleep late, but if I did I would not have spent a lovely morning at the farmers market with my mother. Sleeping late would have been brought me pleasure, but I would have lost the higher value thing of spending time with my mother.
As a leader, I would enjoy having more free time. But I have given that up because my higher purpose is to develop business leaders worth following. I must give up something, to do something more valuable.
In short, you cannot be great at leading yourself, your family, your community or your company, if you are not willing to sacrifice immediate pleasures for the more valuable, longer term purpose to be achieved.
“Nothing of value comes without sacrifice. Life is filled with critical moments when you will have the opportunity to trade one thing you value for another. Be sure to trade up, not down.”~ John Maxwell
This is why you must know your purpose for leadership. Leadership requires sacrifice. Great leadership requires self-sacrifice. It is about pursuing the highest values, even if you personally must lose something important. Something must go. Something must be surrendered. To achieve the higher purpose.
“The currency of leadership is sacrifice. If you are pursuing something important, self-sacrifice is the signal to others that the cause is worth the pursuit.”~ John Ashcroft, 79th Attorney General
Ask yourself these questions:
- What am I doing that bring me pleasure, but is using up critical moments that could be focused my life purpose?
- What am I doing that is deferring or avoiding my purpose? Why is that happening? Is it fear of failure? Is it lack of accountability?
- As a leader, what message would self-sacrifice send to my team? Would it help us reach the goals?