We received the news at Real Leaders this week that one of our longstanding contributors, Will Marre, had passed away. While saddened by the loss of such a dynamic leader, we have chosen rather to celebrate his life.
Will passed away while engaged in one of the greatest passions of his life: surfing. Although absolutely robust in body, mind, and spirit, he suffered from a minor congenital heart defect to which he seemed to have finally succumbed. His passion and energy for unearthing the best human we could be was contagious, and is best understood by the fact that his family asked those attending his memorial service to wear bright, vibrant colors and comfortable shoes for a beach walk.
He was prolific in telling the world that “your mission is my mission” – spoken in many instances to the thousands of women he coached – in a strongly-held belief that we all have the power to shape our future for the better. “Women’s full contribution in leadership is a survive and thrive issue for the future of every human being,” he once said.
His Institute for Leadership Synergy aimed to train one million women in the next five years to become effective leaders. He believed in the synergy between the results-focused strengths of hard power and collaborative strengths of soft power – a trend that is proving successful at empowering teams in organizations around the world.
Will left enough thought-provoking leadership insight to last many lifetimes. Perhaps the legacy he leaves for those who admired and followed him should be one of social inheritance: “His mission is now our mission.”
Here we reflect on some of Will’s best wisdom from the past years:
Psychologists have determined that our confidence grows when we believe that making our best efforts will result in achieving our goals. When the link between our effort and our results is broken we begin to lose our confidence and our motivation to keep trying. Demotivation grows exponentially when we see other people achieving their goals without making the same efforts that we are. It feels unfair… because it is.
The world is a very confusing and scary place right now. The forces of violence and our economic well-being seem out of control. So when someone shows up brimming with insane levels of confidence (strength), and who promises to defend you against your greatest fears (empathy-warmth) they will get your attention.
It is now very clear that the children of boomers will not pay their dues. That’s because they don’t want to join the club their parents have built. They have seen what mindless obedience to the “man” buys. It is not the life they admire or value. The accumulation of evermore stuff does not create happiness, satisfaction or even enjoyment. They have discovered that travel can be more enriching when you sleep in a spare bedroom of an AirBnB than a five-star hotel. They were suckered into massive student loans for inadequate educations. They have little loyalty to employers who have no loyalty to employees.
Let me encourage you. Don’t settle for a job. Don’t degrade your life for a career. What you do matters. You are designed perfectly to succeed at your true calling. And please believe me, with all the research I’ve conducted and all the coaching that I’ve done I can assure you what I am saying is not goofy, pie-in-the-sky. Many, many, many people have it all and so can you.
The deeper problem is that simply telling men they should value women as leaders only adds energy to the stereotype that women need ‘special’ help because they are the weaker sex. This kind of thinking is not confined to the ‘Mad Men’ era.
It’s the unspoken bias that stubbornly persists.
Psychologists have learned that the biggest influence on our behavior is the personal story of our identity. If your identity was that you were destined for a meaningless grinding life or worse, jail, who do you think you might become? I have spent deep time with fellow human beings whose hope was stolen from them before they could even talk. I get exasperated when some self-righteous idiot politician points to a few who have somehow escaped an awful personal history to become a remarkable self-sufficient human being.
I have found every success story has a moment of truth where you either go all in or shrink. There are small and mighty forces that are focused on positively changing the way we all think about the purpose of work, our economy, business and society. The opposing force of the powerful status quo is well financed and very noisy. They are both powerful and stupid. They justify what is unjustifiable. Yes, we can defeat them.