Robin Sharma, the author of the bestselling The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari and many other books, is the founder of Sharma Leadership International Inc., a globally respected training firm used by organisations such as Microsoft, GE, IBM, FedEx, and others to help employees perform at their best, Robin who holds two law degrees including a Masters of Law, has published books on leadership and personal development in over 60 languages.
Who is a true leader? Is s/he someone who has an influence over multitudes?
Robin Sharma: Everyone has the opportunity to lead each day. Leadership isn’t about your job title, the size of your pay cheque or your office. It’s about your attitude. About your devotion to excel at everything you do. It’s about being inspirational and leaving people better than when you found them. About pushing the envelope, living your potential, being an example of possibility and doing your part to be a better human being. That to me is a true leader.
The greatest leader that I’ve ever met was Desmond Tutu. We recently met in South Africa, and just by being around the man you could feel “inspiration” and “leadership” oozing out of him. He has been an inspiration to millions, and is certainly one to me.
What is true greatness? And how can each one of us become great?
Robin Sharma: Greatness begins with a simple decision: to be great in everything you do. To lead by example. To inspire people you meet. To take risks and to create a great life. Because the greatest risk in life is to live without a risk.
Above all else, leadership and greatness are about making a difference and having an impact. Life is very short and before we know it, we will all be dust. What will really matter at the end of our lives is the kind of people we have become and the difference that we have made. Greatness is about leaving a legacy. Success is important but significance is more important.
My father once said, “Robin, when you were born you cried while the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a way that when you die, the world cries when you rejoice.”
Leaders are often both spontaneous and efficient. Which is more important?
Robin Sharma: Efficiency and spontaneity are quite opposed to one another. Efficiency is all about getting things done quickly in a more or less orderly manner—reducing costs, time, and resources. On the other hand, spontaneity is about acting on a whim, creativity, and responding to your subconscious.
Without efficiency, a lot would not get done in an organisation or in one’s life. Without spontaneity, life might appear to be dull and the creative engine of the arts, literature, business, etc. would lose momentum. Like everything else in life, here too, striking a balance is crucial.
Why be great? Is leading an ordinary life not fulfilling?
Robin Sharma: Because we all have the ability to live a happier, healthier and more fulfilling life. I have been spreading my message for over 10 years and have seen many people from different walks of life profoundly improve their lives. This gives me the confidence to share that ordinary people truly can create extraordinary lives. And it all starts with small daily steps. These small daily steps create striking results over time.
A lot of us want to change for the better but don’t know how to begin.
A lack of change, or being stagnant in life, is often because people are scared to face fears and try new things. Facing your fears, taking that proverbial leap off the cliff is the first step. Whether it be a fear of public speaking, or writing that novel you always thought you could—confrontation with that fear is the only solution. Change starts with action, not inaction.
What is your philosophy for happiness?
Robin Sharma: Happiness is being in the process of creating what’s most important to you in all significant areas of your life [including work, home and personal]. Happiness is not about reaching the destination, but about enjoying the process of getting to your own personal mountaintop. Happiness is also about being true to yourself and living life on your own terms rather than according to the values and dreams of others.
How important is health, according to you, in the pursuit of greatness?
A healthy mind always starts from a healthy body. In the break of one of my seminars, a gentleman came up to me and slipped me a piece of paper. It said: “Health is the crown on the ill person’s head that only a well person can see.” Health is wealth and without it, we have nothing.
Any tips for our readers?
Robin Sharma: On most days, I get up between 4 and 5 o’clock and take an hour for myself. I call this my holy hour. In that time, I plan my day, read, write my journal and reflect on what I want to stand for during the hours that will come. I have elaborated on this technique in my book, The Greatness Guide and it has helped many to become world-class. It’s a technique anyone can follow.
This was first published in the January 2009 issue of Complete Wellbeing.
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