Whether I’m right or whether I’m wrong
Whether I find a place in this world or never belong
I gotta be me, I’ve gotta be me
What else can I be but what I am.

I asked, Jim Kouzes, bestselling author of, The Leadership Challenge, why he left the Tom Peter’s Company. He said,

“I just wanted to be me.”


It was February of 1983 when Tom Peters, Jim Kouzes, and Barry Posner connected at a business conference. Peter’s spoke on excellent organizations. Kouzes and Posner spoke on excellent management. They began a relationship that led to Jim becoming the President, CEO, and Chairman of the Tom Peters Company (1988 to 1999).

Jim Kouzes


During our conversation, Kouzes recalled meeting Regis McKenna, first marketing consultant hired by Steve Jobs.

McKenna’s business card read, “Regis McKenna – Himself.” Jim said, “I want to be that.”

Jim Kouzes came to a place where
he wanted to sing his own song.

Along with his inner search, life tipped in early 2000. Jim’s first wife died. “It was a time to ask what’s next.”


Jim said, “When I was young, I wanted to change the world so I joined the Peace Corps. After two years, I realized it was too big a bite. I set out to change the country (USA). I joined the war on poverty. After a while, I realized that was too big a bite so I got into organizational development. But, that was too big, too. Eventually, I started working with leaders.”

“Ultimately, I decided to just be me
and work on myself.” Jim Kouzes.

I laughed at Jim’s narrowing progression and said, “It seems like you’re changing the world, now.”

“In the end we realized that leadership development
is self-development.” Kouzes and Posner.


How can leaders help others become themselves?