The most highly effective people are alike in one critical way: they have developed professional skills like vision, alignment and execution and they seem to be endowed with personal virtues like courage, empathy, kindness, and integrity.
We could say the most highly effective people are integrated. They have assimilated their highest professional and personal virtues and skills to “make” themselves.
Most people are self-made. In our twenties, we typically are self-centered, dismissive, rather pathetic. But by fifty or sixty, we have become worthwhile and honorable.
Highly effective people are few because mass culture and our society readily talks about and highlights the need for professional development. But it cannot speak to the profound inner development that when integrated with professional skills, will make you a good human.
This is what is most needed and at the same time, most missing. We are inarticulate about the sources of meaning in life, and yet this is what ultimately matters. The deepest parts within all of us go unexplored and remain immature. We are busy but not progressing.
Highly Effective People can execute, but moral dilemmas catch us. Consider:
- President Clinton, remarkable with people but devoid of self-control.
- President Nixon knew vision and execution, but Watergate was inevitable.
- President Lincoln was one who managed to develop those deepest parts. He was not at age 20 what he was at age 56 when he delivered his best speech ever.
“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan.”
Lincoln developed! He not only had vision and execution skills, but he also developed the inner constancy and integrity to remain steady and composed while withstanding conflict, turmoil, and setbacks. His vision and execution persisted in the face of rejection and the most serious of blows, loss of life.
This is the potential that is within all of us. Synonyms for potential are possible, probable, likely, and my favorite, latent.
The call to all of us is to make what is latent shine, to make ourselves highly effective. To integrate what is best within you and defeat what is worst. Not just to become a better employee but to become a better person.
To be a highly effective father, partner, community member—to take the best version of you everywhere.