One of the most important qualities of a leader is resilience. Luckily for me, my “internal locus of control” and being exposed to early childhood trauma paved the way for developing a resilient personality. However, resilience balances on a scale with stressors, and you never know when that scale is going to tip you over the edge, so it is a good idea to have a toolbox of coping strategies to fall back on. George Bonanno (a clinical psychologist) found that one of the central elements of resilience is perception, i.e. seeing a traumatic experience as an opportunity to learn and grow, or as “The Artistist’s Way at Work” puts it, “riding the dragon”.
Leaders are always learning from their errors and failures. Life is the leader’s laboratory, and exemplary leaders use it to conduct as many experiments as possible.Challenge the Process – Kouzes & Posner 2017 – The Leadership Challenge
Growing up I developed mild Dissociative Disorder, which means I had a hard time with my identity, and I still find it difficult to define my interests and professional ambitions! Turning this struggle into a quality upgrade opportunity (QUO) early on, I developed a fascination with self-discovery and have spent a lot of time over the years exploring who I really am.
Before you can be a leader of others, you need to know clearly who you are and what your core values are. Once you know that, then you can give your voice to those values and feel comfortable sharing them with others.”Model The Way – Kouzes & Postner 2017 – The Leadership Challenge
In the early years I studied things like astrology and numerology and then personality and intelligence later in life. This journey of self discovery has taught me a lot about myself, my strengths and my weaknesses and how I show up in the world. For example, no matter how many times, or in what format I take the 16 type personality test (aka Meyers Briggs Type Indicator), my result is always ENTP, so I guess I can pretty much take the advise that comes along with this personality type.
Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of ’crack-pot’ than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.
THOMAS J. WATSON
As an ENTP personality type my strengths are:
- knowledgeable – rarely pass up an opportunity to learn something new.
- Quick Thinker – tremendously flexible minds.
- Original – little attachment to tradition.
- Excellent Brainstormer – analyses problems from every angle to find the best solution.
- Charismatic – have a way with words and a wit that others find intriguing.
- Energetic – no qualms in putting in long days and nights to find a solution
and my weaknesses are:
- Very Argumentative – enjoy the mental exercise of debating an idea.
- Insensitive – often misjudge others feelings and push to far.
- Intolerant – either a suggestion can stand up to rational scrutiny or it is not worth bothering with.
- Can Find it Difficult to Focus – boredom comes too easily and fresh thoughts are the solution.
- Dislike Practical Matters – lose interest easily and no follow through
These weaknesses present perfect QUO’s, for example engaging in “morning pages” helped me to address some of these weaknesses effectively. Morning pages is an activity where, first thing in the morning, you you take a notebook and write whatever comes to mind, providing a stage for those voices in your head, and you keep writing, as fast as you can for 3 pages, and then you stop and go about your day. The results are amazing, it not only allowed me argue and debate issues without hurting others feelings but also helped me to work through some issues I was finding hard to tolerate and I ultimately found myself being a lot more focused throughout the day!
Difficulty to remain focused and losing interest easily is something I would really like to improve on, particularly in my business world. Perhaps engaging a business coach will help keep things on track and continue to feed my insatiable thirst for knowledge and growth.
Never being one to pass up the opportunity of learning something new, I have possibly read a thousand books over the years with topics ranging from psychology to spirituality to personal and business development.
During this leadership challenge I found the time to read the book “How to hold a grudge” by Sophie Hannah. Normally a psychological thriller author, she tried her hand at a light hearted and to the point “self-help” book about how holding a grudge can be a good thing and challenges the ever enlightened “forgiveness is the only way forward” myth.
Now while it is not the best “self-help” book I’ve ever read, it did back up my theory that it’s ok to hang on to something that hurt you in your past, and that you can use that hurt to transform your life.
Hannah’s “Grudge-Fold Path” is similar to the AA 12 step program, but not, if you know what I mean? I have summed it up into 5 main steps :
- Recognise a grudge for what it is – a negative emotion about something someone done to you that pissed you off. It happens. It will always happen.
- Create a “Grudge Story” – writing about what upsets us acknowledges that our suffering matters and our feelings of injustice have not gone unnoticed.
- Classify and grade your grudge out of 10 and place it in your “Grudge Cabinet” – gain perspective, recognise the power of the grudge, fold-it and put it away.
- Hold the Grudge responsibly and safely – until such time as we decide to let it go, which may be never and that’s totally fine!
- Repeat the process whenever something really pisses you off – and forevermore view Grudges not as shameful, but necessary, empowering and enlightening.
Reading this book provided me inspiration to share a very personal and challenging story for my 8 minute TED like talk with my EMBA cohort “I Don’t Forgive You…..and I’m OK with that!” a personal leadership story of a child sexual abuse survivor and a powerful message about societal pressure for forgiveness and encouraging people to talk more about challenging topics such as childhood trauma.
Being a leader requires showing appreciation for people’s contributions and creating a culture of celebrating the values and victories by creating a spirit of community.Encourage the Heart – Kouzes & Posner 2017 – The Leadership Challenge
As well as having read probably 1000 books in my life, I have also completed multiple courses and qualifications, attended hundreds of workshops and am now almost completed my Executive MBA. However, no amount of learning will convince me that I have enough knowledge to truly be successful! Other wise know as Imposter Syndrome!
This is another quality upgrade opportunity. Do some work on finding my voice and delivering my message with a little more confidence!
Anyhow, while flicking through my portfolio looking for old leadership work that I have done, I stumbled across my “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” workbook from a 3 day workshop that I attended back in 2004. An integral part of the workshop was to create a personal mission statement, with a little upgrading, here it is!
Lisa’s Personal Mission Statement
- Never stop learning
- Understand the impact of my choices.
- Don’t let the fear of the challenge stop me.
- Never regret the joys, the victories and the sorrows.
- Leave a positive influence on the world by sharing what I have learnt.
In November 2018 I completed a “Distinguishing Values” exercise where I was presented with a list of 100 values and then was instructed to strike values off the list until there were 20 values left. It was an excruciating process, crossing things like ‘courage’ and ‘hard work’ off the list, but the point was to come up with a list of the values nearest and dearest to my heart. If I were to narrow my values down to my top five I they would be:
- Openness and Trust
- Continuous improvement
Grand dreams don’t become significant realities through the actions of a single person. Achieving greatness requires a team effort. It requires solid trust and enduring relationships.Enable others to act – Kouzes & Posner 2017 – The Leadership Challenge
During our November 2018 family meeting I lead the crew through a Vision, Mission & Values workshop and had them do the distinguishing values activity. Once this was done we were able to identify and list our core shared values as a family. What an enlightening exercise! Our next task (QUO) is to define each of the values, to ensure we all have a shared understanding of what they mean, and to determine if we really do live by these values, and if they should stay or if they should go!
You can’t command commitment; you have to inspire it. You have to enlist others in a common vision by appealing to shared aspirations.Inspire a Shared Vision – Kouzes & Posner 2017 – The Leadership Challenge
To finish off, the past year has been a significant year of challenge and growth. It is my natural instinct to grow through seeking out new knowledge and filling my head with information. But something that has surfaced during this leadership challenge is that my adult self has been very overactive since early childhood and that I have been neglecting the child within. Possibly the biggest QUO of my life is to find this child and take her out to play!