“Real change happens when leaders think differently!” ~self
Our “thoughts” have a direct connection with “actions”! That means, your actions will reflect your thoughts ‘exactly’, whether positive or negative. Your thoughts are the foundation of your state of mind that creates belief system within you. Basically, what you think, you do. Remember what Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or you cant, either way, you are right”. Our thoughts create our reality. I am sure you have heard about this:
“Watch your thoughts, they become words; watch your words, they become actions; watch your actions, they become habits; watch your habits, they become character; watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
Good news is, thoughts are completely controllable. We shape our destiny with our thoughts. That is the simple truth. Every one of us is unique; we have distinct backgrounds. No one can be compared with another, however, we are all connected. I will be illustrating today, the importance of embracing diversity and change. And how a leader can influence meaningful change and transform societal norms with courage, strength, empathy, acceptance and adaptation.
It is sad that, we live in a unfair world, where everyone seem to be entitled to any opinion, even if it was not their place. Most lives in ‘fear’ of embarrassments, disapproval, shame, bad reputation and for being labeled. ‘What will they say?’ or ‘What will they think?’ are the main cause of these crippling condition. Jeff Bezos recently said, “if you cannot afford to be misunderstood, don’t bother doing anything innovative or different”.
We learn from leaders, influencers, and executives; and emulate behaviors of the Royals and celebrities. If they say or do certain things, it becomes just the right ticket for the mainstream people. Suddenly, it is no longer questionable or unsafe to the reputation, anymore. Fear is lifted out of the shoulder, instantly! Often, normal (i.e. non-royal) people don’t dare to do great things – not because they are not capable, but because they are afraid of the consequences, criticism, and ill reputation. How can we blame them? It has always been top-down, not bottom-up.
History teaches us, marriage conventionally was a strong business deal for political, national or self-interest purposes, mostly to build alliances to conquer countries or territorial expansion or control over regions! Human greed for material possession, expansion of business, property, assets, wealth, status, authority through the matrimonial alliance, (i.e. a transaction) is nothing new. It was not based on compatibility or love. Let’s take an example: Emperor Akbar, the powerful Mughal ruler of India married a Hindu princess named Jodha, not out of love. A pure business deal of compromise, sheer diplomacy and politics (you may call it as a small sacrifice) to stop the bloodshed and war between the Mughal and Rajputs. During the reign of Akbar, in the 16th century, although Rajputs were strong, they were extremely stubborn, internal rifts among them made them weaker; and could no longer fight against Mughals. They chose to form alliance in order to stay in power of their Kingdom. It is said that, through this marriage, Jodha’s brother Raja Bhagwan Das and nephew Raja Man Singh I became highly ranked officers in the Emperor’s court, benefiting both Rajputs and Mughals. Meanwhile, Akbar also grew fond of Hindu religion, relieving the country’s religious tension. Akbar was the most beloved emperor of India. In short, when rulers, emperors, celebrities, leaders or influencers embrace change; cultural and economic transformations are inevitable.
Harry and Meghan’s royal wedding was the most noteworthy global wedding of 2018, an event that was televised live, actively followed by millions and attended by world’s ‘who is who’. Star-studded royal affair reportedly cost British Citizens a whopping $45 million. $50,000 of which was spent on a ‘lemon cake’. A history was written in the book on May 19th. How is this event so significant for the business world of NOW or even leadership? What might be the correlation? What can we learn from this event? Let’s look.
Nothing was traditional about the royalwedding2018. Filthy coverage of ‘why Meghan is NOT the right fit for Royal family’ filled media reports. Unforgiving spotlight news reports of her family details, age, biracial birth or divorcee status were extremely disappointing. But ultimately, no amount of bias, opinions, criticism, and negativity could impact the outcome; or stop Prince Harry from marrying Meghan Markle. The entire world watched with awe…the making of Duke and Duchess of Sussex. They both seem to have an aura of authenticity during the event. Their combined worth is $30 million (Harry’s $25million and Meghan’s $5m). Meghan married into class, status, royalty and major wealth when she tied the knot with Prince Harry. Did Meghan marry Harry for fame? We know that some of the questions will never be answered. It is said that this wedding is expected to generate a substantial boost to the British economy, through merchandise, souvenirs, memorabilia, keepsakes, tourists, travel, restaurants, visitors, hotels, increasing spending, approximately $680 millions of business.
But in the context of this topic, it is important to review some of the unorthodox actions that were taken along the way; and how their decisions were criticized. Here are top 22 royal rules that were broken (till date):
Meghan’s age was a problem. She is 3 years older to Harry.
Meghan’s prior marriage was most talked about. She is a divorcee (a big no-no!).
Meghan’s biracial birth details became the talk of the world. Her mother, Doria Ragland, is an African American and father, Thomas Markle, is of Dutch and Irish descent. They were divorced when Meghan was 6.
Meghan broke all the royal style rules. Shockingly un-royal display of cross body bag over a clutch, although comfortable and practical. She violated an unspoken royal policy of wearing “pantyhose” in public, a practice that’s been long been upheld by the Queen and all ruling ladies that came before.
A divorcee having church wedding, marrying a royal family member is simply shameful. Princess Margaret broke off her relationship with Peter Townsend as he was divorced, because of the battle between government and public and she put duty over herself. Apparently, Edward VIII abdicated from the throne in order to marry American socialite Wallis Simpson.
Royals don’t get political. And Meghan violated that rule too. Remember her love for #MeToo movement and how she talked about women empowerment.
An interfaith marriage was forbidden until an amendment was made in 2015, to allow British Royals to allow interfaith marriage. Reportedly, her father is Jewish; and she studied in all-girls Catholic high school in Los Angeles. But she was not Anglican. Hence, she was baptized in Church of England, before the wedding.
An open discussion about their private life with Harry, with Vanityfair magazine pre-wedding was shocking
Apparently, British Royals considers May weddings unlucky, an observation that started in Queen Victoria era.
Meghan spent Christmas with the prince and the Royals, before marriage, yes you got the drill – this never happened before.
Wedding on weekend is not a tradition for the Royals. Of course, there is deeper meaning to it. Weekday royal weddings are granted a national holiday! But Meghan and Harry’s Saturday May 19th wedding does not qualify a national holiday, as it is not a day off work for British Citizens.
From showing public displays of affection (i.e. PDA) for each other in many occasions including at the big day.
She had no Maid of honour (apparently, she did not want to chose one friend over another).
Prince Harry did not shave on his big day for the royal wedding
Meghan’s striking solo bridal procession was just icing on the cake. Long-established scene of father giving her daughter away...was not seen here, signifying how strong she is! She was giving herself away, and she didn’t need anyone else!)
Harry was anxiously waiting for Meghan to arrive, at the church. And he watched her walk all the way down the aisle…in a very American style…not a British wedding style, where he should not have looked at her until she is beside him.
Harry opting to wear a wedding band is totally progressive for a Royal...definitely a modern step for monarchy, signifying equality. His ring is even textured platinum not the classic Welsh gold ones.
She broke all the royal rules by delivering a speech in her wedding, generally given by bride’s father, groom and groom’s father.
Opting for a lemon elderflower wedding cake over the royal fruitcake, the choice of upper class among aristocratic British families for generation symbolizing symbol of wealth. Lemon cake does not quite make the cut to the royalty.
An American bishop gave the wedding sermon, a first American bishop to do so at the royal wedding.
Ancestral music was ditched, over Cello.
Their guests broke rules too. For example, David Beckham, the bad boy was seen chewing gum in church. Go figure.
Finally, Meghan and Harry chose to honor a number of royal wedding tradition though; such as making an official engagement announcement, wearing a tiara on her big day, and the Welsh gold wedding ring that she wore.
And the Duke and the Duchess of Sussex was born.
Now, connecting the dots…
1. Correlation between Thoughts and Actions:
Actions always speak louder than words. Meghan’s background was unusual for a Royal, in all standard sense. However, it is clear that Prince Harry's attitude is of absolute-forward-thinking and open. We are what we think. He is 1984 born…for God sake! (Smiles!). They are the Royal Millennial. A new 'tradition' in the book?
2. Not letting Your Choices Influenced by Others Opinion:
Bias is everywhere! Even the royal wedding of Prince Harry with Ms. Meghan Markle was subjected to many discrimination. Point is, they both stood tall and strong on their own position. Good, Bad or ugly, they did not let “others opinion” influence their own choices. Quite a strong characteristic of any leader, I must say. If you are constantly mutilated by external opinions, how can you create your own identity beyond the social stigma? An important lesson to be learnt!
3. Leadership Characteristics:
And here is the real truth. NONE OF IT WOULD HAVE EVER HAPPENED if Prince Harry were not fully supportive. Pay attention to how Harry accepted it all, proudly…and led the change, courageously. Prince had accepted the consequences that come along with it, including criticism, and scrutiny. Intensity of the pressure could have caused Harry to cancel the engagement or withdraw the wedding. But that is not what happened. Harry once pleaded to press and trolls on social media to stop the “wave of abuse and harassments” that has been directed to his then-fiancé’. He was concerned about her safety and expressed his deep disappointment over how he was not able to protect her. Courage, strength, leadership, empathy, acceptance, adaptation – many qualities of a leader, are seen here. Can the leaders learn anything from this event? You...Betcha!
4. Women Empowerment & Equality:
Women empowerment isn’t much about voices, until men starts accepting the issue, and assist in changing the scene. There is much talk about diversity and inclusion in the workplace; or women in executive level. But the reality is far from the truth. Gossips, lies, shrewd competition, bashing, shame, harassment, and unfairness: influences everyday reality. That needs to stop. In that regard, Prince Harry’s action toward Meghan proved that he was absolutely transparent, honest and extremely open to diversity. A true leader...wont you agree?
5. Embracing Change and Adaptability:
Change Management has become a key discipline for organizational transformation these days. How do we incorporate realities of new age, technological advancements, the rise of media bias and modernity of intelligence without disrespecting the age-old routines, when change in the only constant? It is a challenge itself. No organization ever transformed itself without changing its leaders’ mindset. Organizational success has a direct correlation with its leadership. Prince Harry’s actions spoke for his thoughts. He is the real change agent of our time.
Royal wedding of Harry and Meghan was one such historical event that has paved a path for many cultural and social changes that will influence expectations, societal norms, diversity and (most possibly) women empowerment.We all can learn a few leadership skills from this event.