Personal Responsibility: Bloom Where You’re Planted

May 18, 2017



Personal Responsibility: Bloom Where You’re Planted

Inspirational Leaders Make The Most Of Any Situation

by Michael D. Hume, M.S.

Most of my clients would like to be more inspirational leaders. If this is also true of you, you have to start by being inspired. And I was reminded this morning that good people are often inspired to their best potential in life by learning to “bloom where they’re planted.”

These folks live the old expression “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” No matter how challenging the circumstances in which they find themselves, they roll their sleeves up and go about making the best of things. And they tend to make their accomplishments look easier than they really are. Through such experiences, they learn that no obstacles can ultimately defeat them. They learn that, unless they quit trying, they will eventually succeed no matter what lemons life gives them.

And that’s inspiring.

Some of my clients who want to develop inspirational leadership struggle with the notion that this would help them. This is mostly true of the clients who are leaders now, but want to become more inspirational for their teams. Why? Because their concept of leadership is often laden with expectations around strength (and the avoidance of any appearance of weakness). They challenge: “Wouldn’t a real inspirational leader refuse to accept lemons? Wouldn’t they find a way to change their circumstances?”

This is a little short sighted. First, you can’t always change the game. You sometimes just find yourself in tough circumstances. The difference between inspirational leaders and mere managers is not what each sees in their circumstances, but what each sees in themselves.

There are two types of people (in fact, both types are inside each of us, and we have to constantly choose which we will favor). One is the Entrepreneur, who takes risks, takes initiative, takes care of business, and often takes care of practically everyone around her. The other is the Victim, who avoids taking chances, avoids taking responsibility, blames others, and often needs to be taken care of by the very people he blames for his failures. Only an Entrepreneur can be an inspirational leader.

And the Entrepreneur blooms where she’s planted. She knows it would be a waste of time and energy to blame circumstances or even to try to change the game. Instead, she learns the game, and plays it to win. She sees in herself the ability and the will to overcome whatever challenges the game throws her way.


That’s why it’s easier for an inspired person to become an inspirational leader than it is for a leader who already has the title but lacks the ability to inspire others. Why? Because from all the tough lessons life’s given her, the Entrepreneur has taken personal inspiration. She’s inspired, so she’s inspiring. And people will follow her for the inspiration she gives them, and that makes her a real leader, title or none. The mere manager has probably missed some of those lessons in life, too distracted by his efforts to blame circumstances and change the rules of the game to his advantage.

You hear examples of these two types every day, all around you. The Victim complains about layoffs and office politics; the Entrepreneur doesn’t try to change the company or gripe about the economy, but insteads learns how to start and grow a home business as a hedge against the recession. The Victim grouses about the global economic and political wreckage around us these days; the Entrepreneur educates herself so she can be prepared to profit from the coming storm when others might lose everything. The Victim complains about things like the government takeover of health care; the Entrepreneur develops great health habits so she can be less dependent on health care in the first place.

Strength is admirable, and it’s a good leadership trait. Ability to change the game, even to take shortcuts, can be excellent management. But at a certain point, only an inspired person can really inspire others to their best. Sometimes it’s better to learn to make the best of a tough situation than to figure out ways around it.


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