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Full Potential as a leader for 2021

December 10, 2020

Wanting to reach your Full Potential as a leader for 2021?


Everybody, in every corner of our planet, had experienced a unique year in 2020. Many have lost work; some have lost loved ones, and few benefited from Covid-19, while we all were affected in 2020, one way or another…  2021 is a new year, a chance to look ahead, and if you are like me, this will be the year to unlock your fullest potential as a leader for 2021. There is no better time then, now!

Through my work, I have been blessed with the experience of getting to know thousands of people from all walks of life. I love learning how others create and realize their dreams.  As an entrepreneur, it gets me closer to unfolding my full potential. People don’t need to read books about great leaders and inventors because people are doing amazing things all around us, all the time.  Our friends and family may not be a household name, but it does not make any less impressive.

Upon interviewing thousands of people, I’ve found that the ones who are most enlightened share four similar traits. 
These four traits are also found in some of the greatest leaders, artists and inventors of all time, like Julius Caesar, Leonardo DaVinci & Steve Jobs. These four traits may help you unlock your full potential as a leader for 2021;
1. Thinking Different, 2. Not looking to the past to create a new future, 3. Having a greater purpose, and 4. Insightful leadership

1. Thinking Different

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Have you read Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson? A must-read for any entrepreneur wanting to unlock his/her fullest potential. I’ve read it three times and will be rereading it soon. 

Walter Isaacson did not like Steve Jobs, he didn’t accept his initial commission by Steve Jobs to write his biography, but Steve Jobs’s wife insisted because there were but a few months left of Steve Jobs’s life. Hence, Isaacson observed Jobs and interviewed everyone in his Rolodex.
In 1997, Steve Jobs returned to Apple when it was on the brink of failure; Microsoft was now dominant in the computer market. Steve Jobs returned and dubbed his first campaign, “Think Different,” to save the company.  But I believe his campaign and thinking were constantly being challenged and that the campaign was his deep and sub-consciously profound mission statement. Ten years later, Jobs and his team would introduce the iPhone, the iPad, and the iMac with which I am typing these words. By thinking differently, Steve Jobs propelled Apple from the brink of elimination into the most valuable company on Earth.

Julius Caesar did the unthinkable during Alesia’s battle in 52 BC by building a 16 km wall to encircle an opposing army of 80,000 men. Caesar was outnumbered by four to one! He found himself in a terribly vulnerable situation when the Gauls sent another army of 60,000 Men to attack the Romans from the outside. Julius Caesar, rather than panic, thought differently. He refused to retreat, saving his army by building a secondary wall keeping his men, horses, and provisions inside the inner and outer walls. Nobody had thought of using a wall as an attack tactic, and trapping themselves inside to defend another attacking army while attacking the previous army was beyond the understanding of anyone but himself.  

Leonardo Da Vinci was born a humble bastard and did not have the chance for formal education, like his half-brother.  Instead, he was free to roam under the Tuscan sun with his grandfather, where they would contemplate the mysteries of the World.  Da Vinci, educated by his Grandfather, would invent the first plans for flying machines four hundred years before an actual human flight! He would also devise medical procedures still in use today, had a vast understanding of human anatomy, and became one of the foremost artists in humanity’s history.  “No one is so brave that he is not disturbed by something unexpected,” his wall disturbed the attacking army and defending numbers to surrender.

Julius Caesar, Leonardo Da Vinci and Steve Jobs were constantly challenged but were never dissuaded by society’s norms and preconceived ideas.  Be free and think differently in 2021 in your pursuit to reach your fullest potential.

My business mentor and friend, Cynthia Spraggs, who is a fantastic entrepreneur and author of “How to Work from Home and Actually Get Sh*t Done” leads Virtira, a company that provides virtual services for multinational corporations. She had already been a champion of virtual work well before 2020, providing a lifestyle for her employees, unlike any other company.  I was honoured with the opportunity to photograph her team in 2016 and met some outstanding people, like a scientist who works virtually to excel at her dual passions of surfing and medicine.  Cynthia and her team thrive by thinking differently.

2. Not looking to the past to create a new future.

full potential as a leader for 2021

Julius Caesar did not stop once a battle was won. He treated his newly conquered opponents with respect; to him, they were now all Romans. Previous rulers would never protect the beaten armies and their families with even basic rights, instead of enslaving them.  Before Caesar’s understanding of the conquered people’s needs in Hispania, Germania, Britannia, the Middle East and Africa, it was unthinkable to impose laws to protect non-Roman citizens. But Caesar knew that to create a lasting empire, he should look ahead, not back.

Leonardo Da Vinci used his study of nature and art to discover possibilities. He would uncover the mysteries of the human anatomy, paint portraits not matched by anyone today and invent flight 400 years ahead of anyone else, Da Vinci did not look to the past or care about what others were doing he just did.

Steve Jobs said: ” People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.” 
I photographed Dr. Donna May, the first Inuk cardiac surgeon, and was blessed to interview her during our session. Others’ views of her potential did not confine her; she saw her future and didn’t accept others’ views of her limitations.

3. Having a greater Purpose

Albert Einstein Image
Image of Albert Einstein by the great photographer Yousuf Karsh

” I have always reckoned the dignity of the republic of first importance and preferable to life.” Julius Caesar.  “It is better to create than to learn! Creating is the essence of life.” Julius Gaseous Caesar.

“Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art.” Leonardo Da Vinci

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful, that’s what matters to me.” Steve Jobs

People with a greater purpose do not need to seek happiness; they’re already happy because they are doing something that matters.  Thousands of people were interviewed during my headshot sessions; the few who have a greater purpose feel they have a destiny, a calling, and are the happiest of them all.

4. Insightful Leadership

Insightful leadership

During a few days’ halt on a German campaign for the provision of corn and other supplies, a panic arose from remarks uttered by Gauls and traders, who affirmed that the Germans were men of “a mighty frame and an incredible valour and skill at arms.” Despite fighting greater numbers and a physically stronger and larger opponent, Julius Caesar could inspire his men, and his men believed in him.  He was insightful and understood the enemy and his men to outduel his opponents.

“I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.”, Leonardo Da Vinci.  Leonardo Da Vinci was not a conqueror like Julius Caesar or an entrepreneur like Steve Jobs. Still, he was a leader, worked with dignitaries, and advised them and helped improve society during his life. He continues to inspire artists, naturalists and scientists to this very day.

Steve Jobs, “Great things in business are never done by one person, a team of people does them. “  I was fortunate to photograph a headshot session for someone who was on a team of young engineers working towards fixing the iPhone 4. He told me that Steve Jobs asked the team to call their families, loved ones and anyone they would miss and tell them that they would be unavailable for the next three weeks while they tried to fix an antenna problem on the iPhone 4.  “How was it for you to work around the clock, without breaks and little sleep?”, I asked him. He said: “It was the greatest achievement and honour, and Steve Jobs had the ability to make us believe and feel connected to the project. I wish we could continue to work for him”.

I’ve been fortunate to hike Vancouver’s Grouse Mountain with Chip Wilson, the founder of Lululemon. Chip has created an outstanding brand through his insightful leadership. He says that leadership “determines your effectiveness in life and determines the type of people you end up surrounding yourself with — because people surround themselves with like people. I was looking for something that would be a catalyst for people to be leaders and managers more quickly, and Landmark was the best thing I saw.” Chip Wilson empowered his staff by promoting self-development, helping him revolutionize the Yoga apparel industry. 

While hiking, Chip Wilson recommended a few books and one of the books he attributes his success to is called “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, which speaks about level 5 leadership.  A level four leader is intelligent and talented, but the few who are level 5 leaders are also intelligent and talented but insightful with a purpose.
In Conclusion

Full Potential as a leader for 2021

Carlos Taylhardat, CEO Art of Headshots

In conclusion, you may reach your full potential as a leader for 2021 by Thinking differently, looking to the future, finding a greater purpose, and motivating through inspired leadership to unlock you and your team’s fullest potential. All of us want to make the new year one to remember; I know that you can help yourself on your journey toward your own important goals. Have a wonderful, happy and inspiring 2021!

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