Choose One Chair: Evolving as Leader of Destiny

“Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away. Now it looks as though they’re here to stay. Oh, I believe in yesterday.”- “Yesterday”, by Paul McCartney and John Lennon

In Guidepost magazine a number of years back Luciano Pavarotti relates a story from when he was a boy and his father introduced him to the wonders of song. He recounts, “He urged me to work very hard to develop my voice. Arrigo Pola, a professional tenor in my hometown of Modena, Italy, took me as a pupil. I also enrolled in a teachers college. On graduating, I asked my father, ‘Shall I be a teacher or a singer?’ “‘Luciano,’ my father replied, ‘if you try to sit on two chairs, you will fall between them. For life, you must choose one chair.’ “I chose one. It took seven years of study and frustration before I made my first professional appearance. It took another seven to reach the Metropolitan Opera. And now I think whether it’s laying bricks, writing a book – whatever we choose – we should give ourselves to it. Commitment, that’s the key. Choose one chair.”

At some point every leader has that moment of awakening when one chair wins over another. The process of getting there will vary person to person, but that day will ultimately come.

Your growth and development as a leader is a fluid process. Foundational character principles that guide you on your journey will not change, but for the sake of future growth and development as a leader you must be open to change and new ideas.

As leaders we also know that the only constant is change. What worked for you in years past may not be sufficient today. If you are content to just “phone it in” and coast as a leader on how it was done in years gone by then you may likely have lost your edge. So what is a leader to do? Here are three basic questions you need to answer. Reaching your destiny as a leader may very well depend on it.

Is yesterday’s passion enough?

Passion is the fuel of your leadership. With it the sky is the limit in terms of your potential and destiny. It’s what keeps you up late at night and gets you up early in the morning. It’s the “why” that gives your life meaning and purpose.

Yet perhaps the wear and tear of the daily grind has taken its toll on you. Perhaps your dreams haven’t been realized and you feel there is no use in going forward. Let me encourage you today to buy-in to the words of Joel Osteen when he said, “If you’re alive and breathing, you can still become everything God has created you to be.” Becoming a leader of destiny requires a new passion going forward. While the passion you started out with may have been sufficient at the time; today’s goals, dreams, and destiny will require more.

Is yesterday’s attitude adequate?

If passion is the fuel of your leadership then your attitude determines your mileage. How far you go is about possessing the right attitude. Your attitude in years gone by may have served you well up to a point, but to get to the next level you may have to step it up a notch.

Zig Ziglar said, “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine you altitude.” And that is the secret to achieving your leadership destiny. Leaders who have stood the test of time understand the importance of a positive attitude. Every leader has also dealt with the challenges - both internally and externally, of right thinking. Your attitude will cause you to reach your destiny as a leader or it will prevent it. Be sure it’s a good one.

Is yesterday’s mindset working?

One of the greatest threats to your leadership today is holding on to a “this is the way we’ve always done it” approach of years gone by. Evolving as a leader is not about disrespecting the past but has everything to do with letting it go for the sake of your future.

While values are timeless your methods must be current and relevant to today’s world. Are you still open to new ideas? Do you still have the attitude of a student who is humble enough to learn? Don’t forfeit the destiny that could be yours because of limited thinking. Stay current, be relevant, and keep growing.

When Pavarotti chose his one chair it changed the course of his life. It was that singular decision that put his destiny in motion. In like fashion you must choose your one chair and make sure that you have the right levels of passion, attitude, and mindset to take you to the top.

Doug Dickerson is an internationally recognized leadership speaker, columnist, and author. A Lowcountry resident, Doug is available to speak for your civic, business, or church group. To learn more visit or email at

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