Leadership Development is About One Thing We Often Miss

Everyone I work with is working on the same thing. It’s been that way since the first coaching conversation I had years ago in Dunkin Donuts (Dunkin’s was two words back then).

The lesser part of leadership development is solving problems and learning skills.

Warren Bennis was right when he said, “Leadership is becoming yourself.” Everyone I coach is asking the same question. “How do I write my own story?”

Leadership quote: You're writing a few lines in your story right now. Image of a person writing in a journal.

How to write your own story:

I had coffee the other day with a guy in his 70’s. He recently had heart surgery. I thought about what I might ask him. After the usual chit chat, I looked him in the eye and quietly said to my friend, “You’re in the last chapter of your life. How will you evaluate it when it’s over?”

He thanked me for asking.

You’re writing a few lines in your story right now.

#1. Decide what kind of sentences you want to write.

There’s a blank page waiting for you.

#2. Protect the pen.

‘Sister Stress’ shouldn’t be writing your story. ‘Brother Negativity’ shouldn’t dominate your story.

#3. Ask three questions about today’s story:

  1. How are you opening your heart to people? Self-protective barriers drain life of meaning.
  2. What makes you think you’re showing up as your true self? Identity drives authenticity.
  3. What could you do to lower your mask? Masks limit possibility.

#4. Notice distractions:

  1. Developing skills is a distraction when you’re hollow inside.
  2. Happiness is a frivolous pursuit. “Was I happy?” is boring. I’m not saying it’s irrelevant, but it’s not grand enough. Sometimes becoming yourself hurts.
  3. The hardest part of writing your story is ending the chapter you wrote yesterday. The past distracts from the future. An ending is an invitation to begin.

How do you choose to show up in your story today?

Still curious:

Everything You Need to Know About “NOT” Being Yourself

Courage to Become a Leader

Authenticity is at Least Four Things

Authentic Leadership: What It Is, Why It Matters