The 18-Wheeler Truck of Life

The 18-Wheeler of Life

 The secret to successfully living an authentic life is congruence. Congruence implies that we should have a straight line of agreement between vision, goals and behaviour. See the “Authenticity: The Pudding of Congruence” Blog Post. As basic as the concept of a straight line may be, it does require some conscious focus and attention. The concept is equal to the wheel alignment on an eighteen wheel truck.  To move a heavy vehicle safely and efficiently we need all the wheels to be balanced, correctly inflated and all pointed in the same direction.

Our lives can easily be represented by the eighteen wheeler truck rig:

The cab with the driver would represent our focus and vision in life. Sitting at the front of the vehicle our whole life will follow the course we select from in the cab.

The Trailer would represent how we contain life, with all our own personality, attitude and emotions. What happens in life only has the meaning that we give it, and that is determined by our overall attitude to life.

The Wheels represent all the different roles that we play in life. Each of us is multi-dimensional in the tasks and duties we have to perform and are represented by diverse roles that we take on. Let’s look at Jack for example: He is a dad, he is a friend, he is a son and a brother, and he is a fisherman, runner and businessman.

It is called life when we live out each of the roles we have, achieving goals, learning skills, socialising and connecting with others.  As each role rolls over the tar of life and circumstances we travel closer to our destination. The signposts along the route indicate the goals and achievements that draw us closer to our purpose.

It is important that the roles in our lives are congruent, inline, to the direction we wish to travel.  In twenty five years of life coaching and presenting courses, I regularly find people that have roles and goals that are incongruent with each other. I have met people with conflicting roles, where one role breaks down what another role achieves. I can only compare this to a truck where the front wheels are driven forwards, but the back wheels role in the opposite direction. This will result in stagnation and a lot of damage to the vehicle.

Take some time to discover the roles you lay in your life. Take some time to identify how they affect your life and your goals. Most importantly, take time to discover if these roles are congruent with where you want to go in life. Getting these various roles to align with your vision is a basic but essential step to achieving the success you want in your life. Owning an eighteen wheeler truck rig is a privilege for living. Regular and thorough maintenance of this rig is important to a safe and successful journey. Happy Travels, Trucker!
Other Articles by John Usher:

  1. Authenticity: The Pudding of Congruence
  2. Top-Down Effect
  3. Authenticity - The Dark Horse
  4. Authenticity to Self
  5. Authentic Expression
  6. Authentic

Authenticity: The Pudding of Congruence.

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Authenticity: The Pudding of Congruence.

 Buzzwords come and go in the fields of leadership and personal development. ‘Mindfulness’ is the latest word to slip into blog titles and development memes. ‘Authenticity’ is another word doing the rounds as authors play with its role connecting leaders to a higher calling. Yet strangely, there is a word that is powerfully connected to authenticity that is missing. As the strong undercurrent, this word lends purpose and force to authenticity. This word is Congruence.

The tired truck driver battles to keep his eighteen wheeler rig between the lines on the highway. Controlling the sway and wandering is made difficult by the fact that one trailer wheel is flat and the general alignment is out. Besides the expense and increased wear and tear on the vehicle, misaligned wheels are dangerous. The vehicle will not run true as wayward wheels pull it in all directions, making safe handling difficult. The driver must be alert and quick to correct the vehicle’s drifting ways. This works when the driver is fresh and focused, but becomes risky as the hours and miles slip by.

The Top-Down Effect

The Top-Down Effect has confused and baffled leaders, managers and development consultants for years. It is simple in its form yet produces powerful effects. It is a phenomenon that naturally occurs in the business environment that can either make or break culture and brand strategies. The Top-Down Effect silently strips away the layers of jargon and ideals within a company to reveal the authentic intent and style of those at the top of the organization.

So, what is Authentic Leadership?

So, what is Authentic Leadership?

A colleague recently worked with a small Pharmaceutical Company to raise the level of leadership amongst their management. He says he knew it was going to be difficult after he learned that the top management had paid a marketing agency to design the company's values. The management handed him a marketing brief with four popular value words on it saying - "this is the image we want to portray."

Authentic Leadership - The Dark Horse

Authentic Leadership - The Dark Horse

There is no doubt that there is a science to management that takes time to master. The demands from industry forced pioneering managers to take up the role of leader too. This thrusts a set of 3-balls to juggle in to prospective entrepreneurs' hands that are still trying to navigate their way through the terrors of marketing, branding, culture building in the circus of digital business.

"Leadership" was not a term forced onto grumpy autocratic managers to make them more likeable. Rather, the ability was recognised and noted as masses started to follow key individuals that shaped our history. As an entrepreneur, I don't mind telling you that I think the role of manager is easier to master than it is to quantify the role of leadership.

It is difficult to teach old dogs to engage in the lives of those they manage, but it is even harder to groom authentic leadership. This is the 4th ball potential leaders need to learn to juggle. Authentic leadership is complex at the best of times. It is a difficult concept to apply in the work place when faced with crisis demanding immediate attention, mixed in with employees' livelihood at risk. The general feeling is that leadership is better approached by people that have personal authenticity as part of their own development. This, however, seems to put a limit on who is eligible for the leadership role.    

This would back up the concept that leaders are born and not bred. As much as I agree that leadership cannot be taught in a classroom, I am uncomfortable siding with a concept that leadership is nothing more than gene
tic disposition. Genetics may add flair and flamboyance to the personality of certain leaders, as in the case of Martin Luther King, Richard Branson, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, or even the late charismatic Nelson Mandela. This genetic charisma is not a set criterion for leadership otherwise we would not have seen great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi.

Even though the exact recipe to develop outstanding leaders may elude scholars for the moment, the role of current leaders in grooming the next generation is essential. Not just in the sense of them mentoring interns that have worked their way up the corporate ladder, but at grass root level - get involved with children. As adults, experienced leaders and entrepreneurs we need to advocate the idea of authentic leadership to the children of now and their parents. Leaders and business people need to promote self discovery, drive the value of leadership development courses and programs and inspire kids to take up the torch of being authentic.

We need to engage people in authentic self expression at a very basic level, developing a sense of self worth and a healthy respect for others. The future of authentic leadership depends on the ability of current leaders to successfully implement the philosophy, and ignite the next generation with passion to continue forward. This would be like taking a child to the circus at a young age, and when the show is over, to go back stage and give him or her first hand experience at juggling. It will ignite an unquenchable fire to practice juggling with three and four balls into the late hours of night. Whether with flair or with a quiet determination, when their opportunity arrives to perform in front of a crowd, people will beam with  admiration and praise believing such skill must be a talent with which they were born. 

Be A Smarty Pants!

Some things work. Some things do! In my drive for getting to that section of life I really want to be I am busy evaluating what works for me, and what doesn’t. Things that don’t work I politely but decisively remove from my thinking process (I will share some secrets with you on how to do that without endless affirmations and mishaps in a future article!). Sometimes things work partially and need some adjustment.  One such principle I have adjusted to better suit me and my way of thinking is the (in)famous goal setting aide called S.M.A.R.T. This acronym is used to evaluate a goal set. It is a way to test the comprehensive development of a goal once it has been set.
Until I started putting my own twist on it, SMART did not work for me. The new SMARTY is dynamic and living.  I use it not to evaluate the goal once I have defined it, I USE IT TO DEFINE THE GOAL AS I SET IT. May I share this twisted SMARTY version of goal setting with you.

Authentic Expression

Authentic Expression

Watching a lady dress can help us understand authenticity. Consider that this task happens in front of a mirror, even if she doesn't actually look at her reflection most of the time.  First, cream is smeared to cover her whole body. Then, meticulously she covers her silky skin in layers of clothes, each primed and inspected from multiple angles. She makes tiny adjustments to have the garment sit comfortably and look exquisite.

Authenticity to Self

An interesting phenomenon occurred amongst the 'WWJD'(What Would Jesus Do?) bracelet owners. The point of the bracelet was for the person wearing it to be reminded to consider what Jesus would do in the same situation that faced the bracelet owner. Those that stopped to ponder the question seemed to access what they themselves felt, the emotions experienced in the situation at that moment, and compared it to a set of values they believed were God-given, or at the very least - the moral high-ground.

With personal religious feelings aside, one has to acknowledge that this practice assisted the individuals to experience authenticity on a very personal level. Consider that, although knowing who we are, what our values are and what we want out of life is important, being authentic requires us to weight those things against how we actually feel in the moment. 

I was Hijacked and Survived!

Seething anger and the sickening feeling of helplessness! The two emotions that hijacked victims must overcome in order to move forward in life. This article is not about the potentially lethal car hijacking. Although this form is very rife in my country, this article is about a less dangerous form of hijacking, but no less invasive.