Leadership Personal Challenge

Lasting leadership requires finding my authentic self… How did I start?

Leadership is like the metaphorical iceberg. What we actually see in a successful leader is only a fifth of what it really takes. The real work of being a leader occurs in the four fifths below the surface, internal work. Authenticity is essential for the long haul.

Palmer quoteIn the last few months I started running, from ‘never, ever’ to 4km. When I was a child I would win heats at athletics events, progress to finals and regionals, without any training. This small person was fairly active.

For the last year or so I have looked at runners, and thought, “I want to do that”. So I bought myself some new running shoes, had orthotics fitted and downloaded the Couch to 5k app. I got started. Three months later I’m still at it. I believed that there was a runner inside and I decided to find her.

I’ve been thinking about the idea of authenticity, being true to my real self. I had one of those ‘stumbled on’ recently moments when I found the book Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation, by Parker J Palmer. ‘Vocation’, Palmer explains is derived from the word ‘voice’, not an external distant call, but rather a voice deep within each of us.

…every journey, honestly undertaken, stands a chance of taking us toward the place where our deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.

I am idealistic enough to believe that for each of us, our work can be a place of deep gladness and that there is a unique need that we can meet. Palmer encourages readers to think about themselves as a child. He writes:

Watching my granddaughter from her earliest days… I was able to see something that eluded me as a twentysomething parent: my granddaughter arrived in the world as this kind of person rather than that, or that, or that… In those early days of my granddaughter’s life I began observing inclinations and proclivities that were planted in her at birth.

“this kind of person”

with balloonI started thinking about the experiences and passions that I had as a child those things that helped to shape who I am today and into the future?

As I thought about my childhood athleticism I remembered that each year at the annual Sunday School Picnic my only goal was to win my age race, as I seemed to do. Then I took this a step further, am I competitive? (yes) Is this a good thing? (I hope so)

(Note: I appreciate that for many, thinking deeply about childhood experiences can be painful, and for some, not necessarily recommended.)

“inclinations and proclivities”

I remembered another proclivity or two. I was that kid who was paraded from class to class with a ‘superpower’ in Grade 1, aged 6. I could pronounce really-really long words. The teacher would write “salutation” and other multi-syllabic words and the little blonde girl would read them all.

Throughout my school life I think my teachers either really liked me, or I drove them crazy. I was noisy, messy and talkative. And then I remembered the moment, I was in Grade 2, the thought occurred to me “I want to be a teacher”. Despite getting into trouble much of the time, this is what I wanted to do.

Word-focused

A teacher

Competitive.

Two out of three seem OK, but competitive. So I unpacked this one a little further. Success at competition required strategy and tactics. That works for me.

There is so much to say, I might unpack a few more ideas. Stay tuned.

@anneknock

What does it take to inspire, empower and equip leaders for world where change is the only constant? I am an educational consultant and PhD candidate with the ILETC Project at Melbourne University. I facilitate workshops and regularly speak in the areas of: People, Place and Pedagogy in the new paradigm Facilitating change Challenging current practice Learning space design Equipping leaders to navigate change International education context I am passionate about rethinking school and learning to inspire and equip young people for an exciting future. To contact Anne and find out more about the work of SCIL or make contact visit: scil.com.au

1 comment on “Lasting leadership requires finding my authentic self… How did I start?

  1. Is always nice to read about some one else that is also asking itself how to be yourself. This make me think about me and that I am not alone thinking on this

    Like

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