Are you a follower or a leader? Are you compelled to initiate a journey or would you rather follow a template? There is, by and large, a general crisis in leadership. So dire is the situation that we don’t even have a clear definition of what exactly leadership consists of. What is a leader? Who is a leader? Why do we need leaders? It seems as if everyone has a different idea and we need a leader just to answer all of our leadership questions.

Everyone must be a leader. Let’s identify five key features we can all work on to build our leadership capacities. As opposed to being a victim /product of circumstances or bystander and just being swept along, we can control our destiny and lead the way with our unique strengths to discover our personal mission statements. We are going to use the acronym SOLID in order to create the image of a solid human being. SOLID stands for Solutions, Opportunity, Long-Term, Influencer, Direction.

S. — Solutions. A leader looks for the solution.
A leader sees solutions where other people see problems. While one person will despair at the current situation, a leader will search for a solution. It could be he doesn’t see it immediately, however a leader maintains a solution-oriented mentality and does not become consumed or distracted by the problem. Take a commander in chief in war. While others will retreat, become paralyzed, or freeze, a leader will look for solutions in any given situation. So, when you see a problematic situation, as opposed to getting flustered or frazzled, say to yourself, “How do we deal with this problem? How can we find a way through this?”

Apply Practically: Write down a challenging situation you are currently dealing with. Then write underneath it three small ways you could make the situation better.

O. — Opportunity. A leader turns a liability into an asset.
Where others see a difficulty, a leader sees an opportunity. This goes even further than the previous step. When you see a difficulty, as opposed to figuring out how to get through this difficulty and find the solution, you actually take the difficulty/ liability and turn it into an asset. As Winston Churchill said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

Apply practically: With the same challenge, write down one possible way this struggle could actually be transformed into an asset.

L. — Long-term picture. A leader has a bird’s eye view.
A leader thinks about the long term as opposed to the short term, never getting distracted by the small picture and the minor steps. A leader realizes that all of the individual steps which need to be taken are actually frames of a big film. He doesn’t look at an individual frame and believe he has everything figured out. Rather, he sees the wide horizon, big picture, and views everything from a bird’s eye view. A leader provides a new perspective, inspiring us to abandon our narrow field of vision.

Apply Practically: Where do you see yourself in ten years? Once you’ve created that image, now insert the particular predicament you find yourself in and imagine how you want that situation to look ten years from now within the context of your overall purpose and life mission.

I. — Influencer. Leaders leave an impact by taking initiative.
In life your will either be an influencer or you will be influenced. A third option is not an option. A person may fool himself into believing that he is a simple bystander who does not influence and at the same time is not influenced. However, this itself is actually being influenced in an indirect type of way. Like the person who says, “I used to think I was indecisive but now I’m not so sure.” A person who rides the fence and doesn’t make a move is in fact taking the greatest risk. A leader leaves an impact wherever they go and whomever they interact with. They initiate and therefore influence. This serves as a powerful lesson for life. Even on a small level, such as a person going to work or having a difficult day, stop for a moment and ask yourself, “Am I influencing or am I being influenced?” An individual who thinks as an influencer becomes more accountable to themselves, more motivated, and possesses more pride to accomplish what they have to do to fulfil their potential in influencing.

Apply Practically: Work on being proactive. Prior to the next time you find yourself in a particular situation, whether it is going to work, meeting with someone, or spending time with your family, write down three things which you are going to accomplish during this encounter.

D. — Direction towards a destination. Keep the end in mind.
A leader thinks with the end in mind. Not just long term, but the final step and actual end product. The end is the destination: where are we leading? Where is this all heading? Where is my life heading? Where is my family heading? Where is everything I do in my life heading towards? Non-leaders think in the now: Where am I in the middle of my journey? How am I going to make it another day? He only thinks for the moment as opposed to the destination.

Apply Practically: Make it a consistent activity where you take time to yourself, with no distractions, and think about what you want your end goal to be in the different areas of your life. Write down the overall goals for yourself, your family, the community you are in, and the entire world. Think about the fact that our world is indeed heading somewhere and that you control its movement towards that ultimate destination.