Being and doing

Some shifts in life happen intentionally; life shifts when you learn to drive a car. Other shifts sneak up on you and if you let them, you change.

The experiment of writing Leadership Freak began just over 16 months ago. During those months a major shift in my thinking occurred. Like sunrise it started slowly with a few birds chirping in the pre-dawn darkness.


I heard pre-dawn birds chirping during conversations with high profile, high power leaders. They kept saying, “Know yourself.” “Be true to who you are.”

I thought self-knowledge was a good thing but not that good.

You need to know I’m a farm boy from Maine. We don’t think about our feelings. Self-reflection is a form of new age naval gazing for people with nothing better to do.


The things you already know have already changed you. However, high potential tipping points teeter on the tip called confusion; things you don’t know.

My tipping point of confusion eventually came to rest on Frances Hesselbein’s definition of leadership. “Leadership is a matter of how to be not how to do.” Eventually, the self-evident truth that who I am is more important than what I do, dawned on me. Life and leadership tipped.

A surprise:

You might think focusing on being would result in less doing. Truth is, I am doing more but only because I am being more. For example, I’m more effective with others because connecting is easier. I’m not proving myself; I’m being myself and that sets people at ease.

When you open a door for others to know you they let you see them. The dynamic path of positive influence emerges.


One danger of doing is completion. The beauty of being is that becoming is a delightful journey.

Have points of confusion become tipping points in your own life?

What prevents leaders from “being” leaders rather than “doing” leadership?