The Third “I” of Masterful Leadership

“A master approaches that which s/he knows with the curiosity of one who is discovering something new.” ~ Dõv Baron…

Mike ate, slept and breathed rock music. He owned every classic rock album that was ever made and he could fill you in on any detail you needed to know about any of the great rock and roll guitar heroes. Who the lead singer was, who the drummer was, where the album was cut, and most importantly each and every detail on the lead guitarist.

Everything about Mike was a Rock and Roll cliche, from the long hair, to the signature clothing. As you can imagine, it wasn’t unusual to walk into his apartment and he’d be there headphones cushioned around his ears while Led Zeppelin or some other equally loud band blared through the headphones at those of us in the room who didn’t need headphones.

One rare day, when it was quiet, I sat talking with Mike and asked him what his dreams and aspirations were. As you can imagine his answer was less than surprising… “I’m going to be a rock legend.” There was no doubt in my mind that he absolutely believed every word he said and to be honest I wanted to believe him too. However, the next series of questions I asked him made it clear that unless something drastically changed, his dreams would crumble quicker than choux pastry.

Wanting to support his dream I asked, “Mike, how many hours a day do you practice?” Mike looked up at me with a look that conveyed a how dare you even ask. Then he said: “An hour, sometimes two and if my buddies are over three or four hours.” He was clearly miffed at my asking. “Not bad” I said, but he could hear my reservation. “Why?” I smiled and dropped the bombshell: “Is that enough to get you where you want to go?” His head whipped round like it was on a string: “Yeah, of course it is.” I simply said: “okay, that’s good then.” And I got up and walked into another room.

At this point, I should tell you that I knew I’d planted a seed. My hope was to set a fire under Mike’s butt and get him moving towards his dream. I just couldn’t be certain it would, because now that was up to him not me. It was after all, his dream, not mine.

A few day went by and I guess curiosity got the better of him. He came back to me and wanted to know why I was asking those questions. I told him that I wanted to support him in his dreams while making sure that he had everything he needed to get them.

Mike once again looked puzzled and asked what I meant by that. This time I could see he was open to hearing what I had to offer. “Mike, what do you think of George Harrison’s: While my guitar gently weeps? “Come on man, everyone know that’s an absolute classic.” Of course he was right. George Harrison, even though he was over shadowed in many ways by the other Beatles had out done himself as a performer on that track. His guitar work on that track was in many ways what made his mark as one of Rolling Stone’s top one hundred guitarist of all time.

I knew I had Mike’s attention, and I went on to explain to him that I had read an interview with George Harrison shortly after that track had become a massive hit. In the interview Harrison had said that he was never the kind of natural guitarist that he saw Paul McCartney, or John Lennon as it always seemed so easy for them.

In the interview Harrison said how he deeply desired to play at their level. He went on to say that while they were on the road and often while everyone else was jerking around sucking in the fruits of fame, he would practice until his fingers bled. He said, “that for him becoming a great guitarist was an obsession that he treated like a full time job”, therefore he had to practice at least eight hours a day. He talked about how he had no pride to get over when it came to being better at guitar. Consequently, when he became friends with Eric Clapton it only made sense to ask Clapton to teach him as he saw Clapton was one of contemporary greats.

When I finished telling this story to Mike I didn’t have to say much more. I simply once again asked him to ask himself; “is what he was doing was enough”?

I’d like to share with you why Mike’s story is so relevant to you as someone who wants to be an outstanding leader in what you do.In my last article on The Three “I’s” of Developing Masterful Leadership, we looked at how Knowledge, contrary to popular belief is NOT power.

It was in that article that I pointed out the Knowledge or Information is only one third of the equation when it comes to owning your power. In case you didn’t catch it, I explained that the first element of the equation is Information. However, the second element, (the second “I”) of Masterful Leadership is Implementation. But that’s not all… Far from it!

There is a third element in this equation if you want to genuinely develop outstanding leadership skills, and it is the third “I”, which is Integration. Let me explain…

I think we can all relate to having learned something, maybe even something we thought was really cool, only to find that when it came to putting what we had learned into the real world, we just didn’t know what to do.

As we have already stated; “Information without Application is worth the hole in the donut.” Clearly we must apply what we learn in order for it to render any real value. So, you’ve learned whatever you needed to lean and you’ve even Applied it, it’s at this point that we usually get pretty excited…Jumping up and down saying “I can do it, I can do it”.

Have you had one of those moments? I know that Mike had those moments when he suddenly got how to play a certain riff. I know I’ve had one of these moments too: I learned “it” well enough that “I could do it, I could do it” and I celebrated that I did it…. Then I didn’t do it again for awhile and then I came back to it and found that I had only the vaguest clue of what to do. Have you had that happen to you? Frustrating isn’t it? You were sure you knew how to do it and then suddenly it seems like the “how to” leaked out your ear in the night while you slept and evaporated off the pillow while you slept, never to be seen again.

The third “I” in the three “I”’s of Developing Masterful Leadership is Integration.

Integration is not simply learning something and then applying it. Integration is a process by which you know the information and the application so well it is second nature.

Just let this sink in for a minute…

Okay, I’m guessing your next question is: What is the process of integration? Well my friend, let me break it down into three simple steps for you by first reiterating that Integration is getting “it” at such a level that it becomes second nature: The first step is: Commitment, without a Commitment to doing “it” again and again, mastery will elude you. Step two: Through a Consistent Commitment you build higher and higher levels of Competence. The higher your level of Competence, the greater your level of Confidence, which is the third step in full Integration… Does this make sense to you?

So let me summarize and review… The Three “I’s” of Masterful Leadership.

The first “I” is Information: which as we discussed has no value and no real power on its own, and that you must also have the second “I”.

The second “I” is Implementation, because as we stated; Information without Implementation is worth the whole in the donut. However, to keep the knowledge that you have gained over a long period of time there is a need for you to be able to Integrate it, and that comes through repetition, which is a three step process.

Step one: Commitment to continuous Implementation of the knowledge.

Step two: Through that Commitment you get better and better at it, giving you greater levels of Competence.

Step three: Higher levels of Competence breeds greater levels of Confidence in your ability to have what you know become second nature.

As I spoke about in that earlier article so many people are busy gathering information that they never get to see the fruits of what they have learned.

One important caveat about the three “I’s” of Masterful Leadership before we finish: It relates to the quote at the very beginning of this article. And it may be the most important part…

A Masterful Leader refuses to take her/his knowledge for granted.

I trust that you found this article valuable. If so feel free to send this to your friends. I eagerly anticipate your feedback and comments.

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