Success requires character.

Once I was just a teacher. I had received a distinction for my teaching abilities, but still I was just a teacher. I was no businesswoman. I had no investment capital aside, no extra capital for running costs; in fact, I had no idea how to run a business. No financial knowledge despite the straight A’s I got in senior high school in maths!

And when I set up my first little business at the age of 22, living the illusion that teaching would suffice for business success besides the academic success of my students, I soon came to realise that much, much more was required. I will only get into three elements here. These three are more than enough for a start, because when you lose your entire fortune twice within a few years, and at a very young age, then you surely have learnt more than just three hurtful truths!

Learn to speak the truth!

Truth hurts… it is bitter and painful. Now, how much truth is hidden in this statement? Truth has to do with a lot of aspects. Our abilities, for a start. Our dreams. Our vanity and ambitions, especially when our ego is huge and can’t get through the door! The fact that we are ready to climb over people to get what we want. The fact that we are driven by forces of hatred, anger and vengeance. That we are constantly playing a role in a touring troupe. That we act as if we love the whole world, when, in actual fact, we need this world to feel alive and assured of our greatness. The fact that we make mistakes. And why we make these mistakes. The fact that we are becoming all the more dependent on the positivity theories of New Age philosophy without looking at the need for a solid foundation - since we are all the more leaving aside true self-assessment. And amongst all these, some other, rather nice truths about ourselves.

Mistakes and self-assessment

I learnt to see when and where I make mistakes and accept them; though it took a couple of years of full-on resistance after my first failure at the age of twenty-four. With a little bit of informal “coaching” from individuals who supported nothing but the truth and whose “assessment” was one that counted, I got the hang of accepting the fact that I make mistakes. I learnt not to fear the opinion that truly counted and I started seeking my most honest critic to ask and learn. Up until I got to know how to honestly and objectively assess myself – free from the need to hear some comforting pep talk. And I also learnt how to tell the truth, when I saw incompetence, with no fear, especially when society demanded unnecessary diplomacy for the sake of social and business relations.

Authenticity: the scheme of the century

Many entrepreneurs and managers forget one more great truth: that authenticity on its own means nothing. Behind this concept there is a whole “science” trying to convince us to be “authentic”. What they avoid telling us is that there is also authenticity in idiocy, incompetence and meanness. When I coach managers, I see a number of them believing that with the right communication techniques, their “true self” will appear before others, that of a leader. What they are trying to do, in fact, is to specialise in the art of acting, of playing the role of the “authentic”.

Leadership Signpost

Leadership vs anything else

A leader has every right to be real, yet tough as well. He can have positive traits, but he can also have negative traits that enchant others and make them follow him. A true leader has other rights. Rights that we bestow upon him because we need a leader to guide us into any direction – as long as it is a direction. Until you convince yourself that you are a leader, you should avoid imitating them since it will only look fake, unnatural, and not real. Remember that there are only few genuine leaders out there; there is no point in having many. Until then, you will have to stick to your role: that of a manager, of a business owner, of an entrepreneur or anything else that fulfils you (or maybe not).

The painful conclusion

Life is in desperate need of truth. It needs the realistic self-assessment and not the ideal image you wish to have for yourself. Should ten individual assess your competencies, remember that the one who does not give in to the theories of positive encouragement (especially when there is no essence to support it), he is the one who will tell you the truth, whether you like it or not. And remember that you cannot be a leader; simply because society was not built to have more than it can take. Otherwise, the definition of a leader would be entirely different in the dictionary.

Nobody promised you that life is a bed of roses and that you will be competent in almost everything so that others can say “well done” and pat you on the back.

And if you are truly nice and competent and you speak the truth, then you are the one who smiled with this article.

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