Every week and sometimes everyday I am presented with leadership lessons to elevate, evolve, and become a better leader in my business, communication, life, and relationships. Somedays it is exciting and exhilarating discovering a new way of being a better leader and other days you wish the often hard and uncomfortable growth lessons could somehow be avoidable. If only someone had the Coles notes short cut to getting to the other side of discomfort where you could arrive unscathed as the leader you always new you were!
So I thought I would share a weekly blog or vlog on leadership lessons perhaps with the title of ‘Lifeside Leadership’ since it is not always by a cozy fireside that we are chatting about growth, but truly in the thick of life where we learn to lead forward and better. Just today, I was speaking with a fellow coach and the words that came out of my mouth were,
“Where was the leader I am today back then when I was so young and needed her skills, strengths, knowledge, and experience?”
The peer coach reminded me, we cannot go back, but only forward and the fact is we don’t always have the skills and know how we need in the moment. It is not about perfection, but rather growth and growth cannot occur without pressure, a challenge, and new experiences that stress us beyond our current capacity or capabilities.
Todays leadership lesson, that to be honest was a bit painful for me to reminisce about, was a why behind my business and why I believe so strongly in people leading their life and knowing and being the leader of their life, business, career, and health. You see, the person I was before that needed the leader I am today, lost years of her life and the biggest regret of her life because she didn’t have a voice, she was stuck in fear, and she let circumstances control her life. That young woman in her early twenties did not know there was a leader within her nor did she have the skills, experiences or awareness that she could and was leading her life.
“Power was all around her, but not within her.”
One of the most important lessons we must learn to be happy in life is…
One of the most important lessons we must learn to be happy in life is that life is not leading us and circumstances are not outside of our power not even if our fear tries to convince us otherwise. Rather, we are the leader of every area of our life, even our fear, and we have the power of choice to lead it as we want to live it so we can love the life we live. Now, this is not shared for us to blame ourselves or be defeatists of where we have lead it or where we are currently; if you are not where you want to be, you can lead starting today forward.
I was reminded of this earlier today as I was questioning, ‘why did I have to go through all I did and why didn’t I know what I do now back when I needed it most?’ We lead better when we grow better through lessons. The great coach I was working with, Kim Hamblin-Hart, so profoundly and clearly pointed out to me, that these hard, painful lessons in life have brought me to the work I do today, my purpose so that others will own their power sooner, lead their life, and become the leader of impact that has always been within them.
Leading Authentically in an Extroverted World
Another leadership lesson I had the privilege of learning this week was how we are still living in an extroverted favored world. As I train and hone my women’s leadership skills and learn from other great mentors, i heard recently from a mentor that the first few people to speak in a meeting are the ones seen as the most confident, influential, and having leadership capabilities. As I found myself in a group meeting this week, I was challenged with this perception from an extroverted leader.
You see, my nature is to listen more than I speak, perhaps you could say that is also my comfort zone, but as someone who was in the meeting in a leadership role, I felt it was important to let all the other people speak first. Some were speaking more because of their expertise on the topic while others spoke a lot because they are more comfortable talking. The irony was that I really tried to interject and not be the last to talk, but it was hard to get a word in edge wise for the first half of the meeting.
What this lead to was the perception by the extroverted leader wondering if I knew anything at all on the subject matter we were discussing. His question made me realize that being a listener left him not knowing my level or depth of experience in this area of which I had a lot. Luckily I redeemed myself in the second half of the meeting where I was able to speak more and step into my leadership role speaking confidently to what I knew the team needed to hear and know. However, I left the meeting taking responsibility for not speaking sooner, but also questioning myself for why I was not one of the first to speak and the impact that may have.
Here’s what followed in the reflection, introspection, and feedback I received from a peer: somehow I need to strike a balance between being authentically me which is a listener, coach, and leader and living in an extroverted world that sees those who speak first as the strongest leaders. Luckily, a peer gave me feedback when she heard the full scenario and said, actually I see what you did giving space for the team to speak and ensure the less dominant speakers also had air time is the sign of a leader. That was so reassuring to hear, but it also surprised me due to the strong leadership presence and assumptions of the extroverted top leader of the meeting.
What I learned from this is, that I cannot abandon the authentic leader in me completely to comply with or be accepted by an extroverted leader or working culture; however, I absolutely do need to stretch myself to jump in, speak sooner, not let everyone else go first, and speak to the knowledge and experience I do have before it is questioned. I cannot lead from silence or from sitting back, but listening still is a leadership superpower.
Be Patient with Your Progress. Put Yourself and Your Passion Out There and doors will open.
My last exciting leadership lesson not just this week, but since the start of year, has been realizing the things I did 2 or 3 years ago to grow my business are bearing fruit now! However, in the moment you do them or the time frame that you market them, there may be no or little fruit, yet you plant and harvest and carry on anyways because one day the flood gates open. When opportunity does knock, it will seem like miracles are happening out of the blue that may appear not linked to recent efforts and that is because they are due to your consistent efforts over time even years ago. If you are an entrepreneur at the start of your business or in the beginning stages of growing your business, keep taking action on marketing what you do and your offer even if the reward does not appear right away.
Just recently, I realized the steps I took over the past few years that I thought had done nothing, have brought me very exciting opportunities, one of which is becoming a co-author of a book on the winning mindset for peak performance. Two other exciting projects came to me and I did not do anything different recently, but I had consistently, persistently committed to creating and marketing my business. If you set an intention, take action to progress it, and be strategic with marketing and putting yourself out there, you will get seen. Be patient, persist, and be purposeful. It will happen.
What leadership lessons did you learn this week?
If you are wanting to lead your life, elevate your leadership or own your power and would like coaching, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s to leading lifeside with grace, humor, and growth for a brighter future.