We are all the captains of our destinies. The challenge is that, at times, we don’t want to steer that ship. We’d rather leave it to someone else or stick our heads in the sand and wait. Should we be surprised when our ship capsizes, especially when we leave it to chance?

In this episode of Creativity Excitement Emotion, David shares what he’s noticed about the most effective leaders. Remember – in your artistic career, you are already a leader.


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00:17 – A commonality among the most effective leaders
00:37 – We all have circumstances
01:45 – A choice in how we respond
02:14 – Effective leaders don’t let their circumstances dictate their commitments
03:06 – Problem-solving
04:03 – Not looking for sympathy
04:56 – Developing your leadership
05:20 – Showing up


Today I wanted to share about commonality I’ve seen among the most effective leaders that I know.

As you may know, I’ve been part of a two-year intensive leadership program. I’m in the second year in the third quarter, so basically one more quarter to go as we speak.

Here’s one truth that nobody can seem to escape is that we all have circumstances. Things come up in life. And they always seem to come up when we’re committed to something. It’s almost as if the commitment itself is being tested. And we can either respond to it in a way that will allow us to continue to be true to the commitment that we’ve made, but it’s also the crossroads at which a lot of people take the other path and give up and don’t continue on, and choose not to fulfill all the commitments they’ve made to themselves.

You often hear people say, “Oh, it’s just too hard. It’s too hard.” So, they don’t do it. And, oftentimes, all that was required was perseverance from them, but something took them out, right? It could have been a breakup, it could have been an illness, it could have been a car accident, it literally could have been anything.

I think in some cases it could literally be spilled milk and some people would be taken out by that. They go, “There’s spilled milk on the floor and that’s the needle that broke the camel’s back.”

And I think here’s the thing that we sometimes miss completely that we have a choice in almost everything. If we’re tired, we should sleep. If we’re sick, we should manage our well being. If we’re hungry, we should go eat.

And if we can’t figure out where and how to fit these things in, it’s usually a matter of planning and prioritization, and not a matter of, “Oh, I can’t fit it in because there’s not enough time.”

Time being democratic, we all have the same 24 hours in a day. So effective leaders don’t let their circumstances dictate their actions and commitments. If for some reason they’re not able to fulfill on the commitments they’ve made, then they will be in communication about that fact as early as possible.

Effective leaders don't let their circumstances dictate their actions and commitments. Click To Tweet

And if there’s no way to reschedule the deadline or event or project or whatever it may be, then it’s about making reparations then and there.

It could be anything. It could be a gift card. It could be sending the client flowers. It could be apologizing. But something is done then and there to repair the situation so it’s not lingering for anyone and it’s complete.

So, the best leaders follow up and follow through on the things that they’ve committed to. Their circumstances don’t dictate it. They find a way that has it work. And if it absolutely doesn’t work, like, if you were planning to be on a Zoom call, and your computer broke down, and your laptop broke down, and your tablet broke down, and you smashed your smartphone, you could still go to the library.

The best leaders follow up and follow through on the things that they've committed to. Click To Tweet

But if your car broke down, you could still go to the neighbors and request to use their computer for half an hour. Sure, it might be weird, but in the world of problem solving, that is the best way to think about it.

So, in most scenarios, not in every… There are scenarios that are excusable. There are scenarios that are far outside of your control that you could do nothing about. But it overwhelmingly in most situations, you can choose to find a way or you can give up.

So, the most effective leaders, they may share about their circumstances. They don’t necessarily share them to get sympathy or empathy from people.

They say it as a matter of fact, because that is the what is so, that is what’s occurring in the world, that is what’s happening in their world, but they’re not making a lot of story and significance and meaning out of it. So, they show up anyway.

It’s like, “Yeah, I was sick today. Not feeling my best. Starting to feel better. I showed up anyway.” Like, that would be it. That would be the end of the conversation. No sympathy or acknowledgement needed. Some people might anyway, and that’s fine. But they’re not stating what is a matter of fact… They’re not stating the what is so just to get something out of someone else. They just show up. Do the work anyway. That’s what the most effective leaders do.

But I am acknowledging that it can take a while to get to that point. You may not be that kind of leader fresh out of the egg. It may take you a while to develop your character and your integrity and your ability to problem solve when you need to problem solve so that you can always be meeting all the commitments that you’ve made.

And what is it about these leaders that makes them so effective? Part of it is the fact that they recognize that everyone has circumstances. Like, really, don’t we? We all have circumstances. You can say, “Oh, you know, I only slept three hours last night and I’m tired and exhausted.” You know what? There’s somebody in that room that could probably one up you that’s not speaking.

They may have had an hour of sleep. They may have had 15 minutes of sleep. But they’re not sitting there talking about it. They showed up because they made the commitment.

So, decide to be an effective leader. Don’t have circumstances and situations take you out, because I can assure you that the most effective leaders don’t. They don’t let those things get in the way.

Don't have circumstances and situations take you out. Click To Tweet