Not everyone gets to have a book written about them, and in fact, many of us probably wouldn’t want people to know all about our lives. That doesn’t mean we’re not all writing our own stories.
Every action communicates something about who we are…from how we greet a person, to where we spend our time, to what we do when things get tough. So, what exactly is the story that we’re telling?
Who we perceive ourselves to be isn’t necessarily the same as who we’re coming across as to those around us. Our internal reality—what’s in our head—doesn’t always match up with the external reality of what others see. I’ve worked with individuals who firmly consider themselves to be people-oriented. They believe they’re straightforward, clear, and maybe even on a good day, inspiring leaders. What they don’t realize is they’re steamrollers, and in an effort to effectively get things done, they leave a few people in their tracks. The truth is that what they thought in their head wasn’t being transferred through their actions.
Maybe this describes you, or you’re wondering, “Oh man, is this me and I just don’t realize it?” Most of us aren’t really steamrollers, but we generally have some idea of the kind of leader we want to be. It’s likely you aren’t quite that leader yet. Don’t worry, you’re in good company. The process of developing never really ends, but here are three suggestions to help get you moving in the right direction.
1. Assess the disconnect.
What do you want to be true about yourself that isn’t true today? What values do you believe in or aspire to? Can you trace them back to your daily or weekly actions?
2. Make the small things count.
What are good habits you need to develop? Is there a book you should be reading or a podcast you would benefit from listening to? What are little adjustments that can bring a big impact? Maybe you should smile when you greet your co-workers, think about the tone of your emails and texts, or put down your mobile phone during meetings and conversations. Everything communicates.
3. Engage in transformative experiences.
Positive change is uncomfortable, and writing a great story causes a little occasional discomfort. Challenge yourself to step out and do things that align with the person you envision yourself being. Stretch yourself with a new adventure, personally or professionally. Do whatever will help give you a broader vantage point, both literally and metaphorically.
Here’s the thing about so many good stories: they’re redemptive. They rise and fall, turn one way and then the other, and there’s frequently a place for changing what needs to be changed before it’s all said and done—a chance for resolution. If your story hasn’t quite been what you’ve wanted up to this point, rewrite it going forward. Every action is a pen stroke, every word a part of a narrative.
What story are you telling with your life and leadership?
Written by: Connor Phillips, former Milestone Leadership Graduate Assistant