In Jim Collins' book Good to Great he talks about the level 5 leader, someone who shows a perfect balance of humility and iron will.
Abraham Lincoln is a good example. He was humble - when things went well, he assumed he was lucky. When things didn't go well, he took responsibility.
But he also had a strong will to see things change. He had an agenda that was bigger than him, and he served it - and persuaded others to do so as well.
I've pretty much got humility covered (I'm one of the most humble people I know ... yeah, I know how that sounds...) but I could do better in the will department.
Maybe I need to get in touch with my roots. My mother tells me I wasn't a passive child. Temper tantrums! On at least one occasion I needed hosing down. (If you know me, you may be surprised at this)
What I do know is that when I'm decisive, I'm happier. This is borne out by the research. In Authentic Happiness, Martin Seligman talks about flow, saying we experience it when we're active and goal-oriented, such as working or playing.
From the book:
"Americans surprisingly have considerably more flow at work than in leisure time. In one study of 824 American teenagers, Mike (Csikszentmihalyi) dissected free time into its active versus passive components. Games and hobbies are active and produce flow 39 percent of the time, and produce the negative emotion of apathy 17 percent of the time. Watching television and listening to music, in contrast, are passive and produce flow only 14 percent of the time while producing apathy 37 percent of the time. The mood state Americans are in, on average, when watching television is mildly depressed."
Woah. I wonder if that's different for appointment viewing or DVDs, because I get a great deal of flow from a good movie or TV drama...
But I digress.
Pursuing strong will, if you're like me and can be a bit too "go with the flow" at times, is likely to not only make you more effective - but also happier. I've been consciously going in this direction; it works.
(A note on the photo: I actually found this when searching Flickr for "tortoise". It's worth reading the description on the original photo page)