I Hung Up the Phone and Just Started Sobbing

I told Jenny Dearborn that our story is the answer.

She told me about an unexpected conversation with a nine year old boy. He has dyslexia. So does Jenny.

Jenny Dearborn, SVP and Chief Learning Officer for SAP, is responsible for the learning and development of 90,000 people. But last week’s random conversation with one nine year old boy caused her to hang up the phone and sob with gratitude.

Jenny said, “For many years I hid my learning disabilities.”

The story in her own words:

The dark pages of your story illuminate the reason you’re here.

The advantage of disadvantage:

Disadvantage leaves strength in your gut and honey on your fingertips.

  1. Disadvantage expands your capacity to serve.
  2. Disadvantage reflects and shapes your character.
  3. Disadvantage opens your heart.

Your greatest contribution emerges while you struggle with disadvantage.

Authentic value:

Spend more time being who you are and less time doing the “right” thing. Your story reflects the true value you bring.

I don’t mean you should do wrong things. I mean you should bring your true self to challenges and opportunities.

The number one regret of the dying: I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. (Bonnie Ware, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.)

4 ways to bring your true self:

Disadvantage turns to advantage for yourself and others when you battle through the dark.

  1. Find advantage in disadvantage.
  2. Rise above the hurt by forgiving those who hurt you. (See Meredith’s comment below.) Forgiveness opens the heart to receive advantage from disadvantage.
  3. Express gratitude for those who helped you.
  4. Feel humbled and honored for opportunities to serve.

Management principles can be learned from a book, but struggling though disadvantage turns rote to reality.

What prevents leaders from bringing their whole selves to work?

How might leaders tell their story in ways that bring advantage to others?

*Read the new book, The Data Driven Leader, by Jenny Dearborn and David Swanson

Follow Jenny on twitter: @DearbornJenny