“What resides within finds its way out.” MGF
Our experiences – all of them—impact our hearts in profound ways. Whether dancing joys or weighty despair, each uniquely writes a storyline within us that can become the basis for our view of life. Here’s the thing…if the storyline written is the same or even somewhat similar across many experiences, we at some point can take it on as personal truth even when not accurate. Was the experience real? Yes. Is the truth from it accurate? Not necessarily. A brief story may help.
Grace started her new job with cautious excitement. Cautious because for most of her young life of 23 years, those closest to her spoke more of her mistakes and how big they were, more than encouraging her over her innate and unique gifts and strengths. In her heart, she believed that if her family and friends felt this way about her life, what would strangers at a new job feel? She expected more of the same and likely without any filter. So, she began her role waiting for the judgement to come, and even more so from leaders. However, to her bewildering surprise, her supervisor Jenna was different. From the first interaction, Jenna was endearing and encouraging, leaving Grace feeling seen and heard with great value. Over time, her experience at work began challenging the truth she had arrived with, namely, that her life was the sum total of her failures. Instead, she was beginning to believe that her real self was much more beautiful and wonderful, and that others thought so too. Jenna’s impact on Grace was profound all because a leader saw her for who she truly was and then acted on it with her words and actions. Jenna’s perspective became the cause of how she led Grace.
As leaders, we all have these kinds of perspectives which become the basis of our actions. We can say all we want, but the true revealer of what perspectives we hold, especially about our leadership role and intent, always comes out in how we use our role with those we lead. Stripped down to the core, leadership is about leading, and leading is about others. We don’t lead projects. We don’t lead goals. We certainly don’t lead outcomes. We lead people.
The question and answer are ours, every day, with every circumstance and with every person we encounter. What perspective do we want to define ourselves? It begins with first understanding our present perspective. To discover it absolutely requires honest assessment beyond just our own. Asking others frank questions about their experiences with us remains crucial. Use all of it, especially that which reflects failures and mistakes.
Once we have some honest clarity of our present perspective, where do we want to go from here? Remember, if we want to change, we must first believe something different and then do something different. Action without a heart change will be short-lived. We live from our internal world that we value.
As a leader, we can focus our energy, attention and power on drawing out the real truth of others despite their experiences. That’s the honor we have before us. But to do that and do it consistently means that we understand our own value and worth of how we matter. Our innate worth and value is more real than all the experiences we have combined. Let’s have that perspective as leaders and help each other believe that as we work together and serve each other.