Category Archives: Authenticity

Created to Create

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Recently while teaching a class of eager college students, one young person stated unapologetically and in no uncertain terms his belief that, “We were created to create.” His rather emphatic statement sparked a great discussion, including the question about purpose. While it is not so surprising that a group of college students in a World Religions course would erupt into serious discussion around purpose or why any of us are here in the first place, it is very interesting that more and more corporate executives are landing on this precise question – “What is My Purpose?”

The fact is many executives are not only seriously considering the question, but also understanding the connection between purpose and superior results. Even more interesting, a recent article in the Harvard Business Review suggested that clarity of purpose fueled by courageous pursuit tops the list of the most important priorities in leadership development. Truthfully, this helps me breathe a sigh of relief, as I have been helping others find purpose professionally and personally for as long as I can remember – long before I myself embraced true purpose and took courage to make a career change after two decades in the practice of law. That said, it seems only fitting that today I address the issue of purpose since I am preparing in a few short weeks to lead a group of University professionals down the path of answering this very question.

Have you ever found yourself asking the question, “Am I fulfilling the purpose for which I was called and created?” Don’t make the mistake of thinking you are in this world by accident or that you were not uniquely designed to fulfill a particular purpose. There is a reason for your existence, and it is the privilege of each of us to find our road to purpose.

Perhaps you have asked yourself the question over and over again with few answers. Like my students, I suggest it is a question greater than you and best left to the Creator. But there are a few things you might consider. Have you slowed down long enough to hear your life’s call? Sometimes the key is in quietly shutting out the noise of life so that you might hear what life is saying. Don’t be afraid to look back over your life. Life really does speak. Look at the places you frequent, the things outside of you that bring you joy, the kind of people and things that draw you as well as the people and things to which you are drawn. Volunteer your time giving back; get involved in a project about which you have great passion or concern. Listen, listen, listen, and listen even more. Get in the habit of listening for life at all times. Listen to conversations you have with others; listen to the conversations you have with yourself; and listen to the conversations between others. Life’s goal is not to hide your purpose. Rather, it is to call you and then usher you into purpose. Your responsibility is to get into a place where you can absolutely hear the call.

Ask, seek, knock, listen, and when life speaks be prepared to take up the challenge life places before you. Become a more critical thinker, and give your best to each day life gives you. Expand your dialogue with others, and do not be afraid to ask (of those you trust) what they see in you understanding you were Created to Create.

williams_geneace09_v3  Until Next Time, Best Wishes on the Journey, Dr. G

copyright © 2015 Geneace Williams

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Leadership – “InSide Out”

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For those who regularly read my blog posts about leadership and life, you know I am often inspired around life’s deepest ‘matters’ by the energy and power derived through engagement and dialogue with others. And this week is no different, as I was inspired while having my annual birthday lunch with a friend. She gave me a simple reminder that sent me on a “thought binge” about leadership and growth. You should also know that I highly value the strength in living and “leading” a fully integrated life. Here is what my friend said to me: “all of life is a process.” Immediately, I thought about Leadership and the value in viewing Leadership as “Process.” As such, my wish for you is that over these next two Weekly Wisdom Blog posts you will be able to further glean how you can apply this teaching to your life while connecting leadership to core values and actions that create great leaders.

In full disclosure, the conversation with my friend reminded me of a piece I wrote not so long ago on leadership and formation and the critical connection through a process often termed trans-formation. Not so ironically, I was also reminded of last week’s post entitled Living Your Legacy, which highlighted Five Living Essentials for creating a life-transforming legacy to impact the lives of others.  Indeed, the components of The Five Essentials are a part of the theory of formation I discuss this week.  Here I share portions of the former writing on formation, which views leadership as an important Inside-Out “Process.” I invite you to continue to analyze the many facets of leadership as we grow together.

Here is Part I:

The question was once asked – are leaders born, or can one learn to lead?  I contend there is truth in both camps.  But whether you are a born leader or born to lead, you must experience transformation on some level in order to be an effective leader.  In my work with leaders from many walks of life, I always suggest the best leaders are formed to meet success.

Formation is a kind of re-formation that leads to trans-formation.  In other words, formation is serious business that requires you to abandon comfort for tough internal work that promises to challenge your thinking and prepare you to operate at a different level. You will know you are ready for formation work when you are equipped to confront the possibilities that exist beyond your level of comfort and are willing to embrace the fact that positive change presup­poses confronting your growing edges. Likewise the leader who desires authentic and transforming growth is primed to resist the temptation to remain or become anesthetized by life’s challenges and/or its successes. Instead they are motivated to move as if life itself is depending on their will­ingness to pursue the journey of growth called formation.

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Formation is a moral imperative both in life and leader­ship. As such, true formation work is a prompter inviting you down the path of setting values and ethical boundaries by which you will live and lead. It is a dynamic, continual process fueled by receipt of input and feedback, both inter­nal and external, and it requires responding in an active manner.  In essence, it is a journey that occurs over time.

Formation happens at the point of intersection between intentionality and authen­ticity, two of the five living essentials discussed in last week’s blog. Intentional leaders concern themselves with who they are and the path they travel. An authentic leader is genuine beyond the surface and ever seeking her true self while working to live a purposed life shaped by a personal philosophy of integrity. With crucial ties to integrity, moral consciousness and ethical patterns are the rules of law in formation. Said another way, rules of law are standards and boundaries by which one chooses to live, and the work of formation suggests integrity, honesty, morality, virtue, honor, and service.

With these opening thoughts on the critical nature of formation in leadership, I will pick up next week with more in reference to Leadership as Process, but first I invite you to challenge yourself to do the following over the next few days:

  • Identify an area in your life wherein you desire to or know it would be beneficial for you to grow.
  • Focus on that one area over the next week.
  • Identify at least one thing you will do intentionally to spark growth in this area of your life.  Don’t be afraid to set your bar high. As I often say, you must abandon comfort to experience the extraordinary.
  • Once you have set your goal, begin your work, and remember – EVERYTHING BEGINS WITH A START…

williams_geneace09_v3    Until next week, Best Wishes on the Journey! Dr. G

Excerpts borrowed with permission from Leadership DASH: Breaking Through the Finish Line by: Geneace Williams.

Original Copyright © 2013 Geneace Williams.                                                   Edited Edition Copyright © 2015

Living Your Legacy

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In life, we often hear talk of legacy associated with a famous person who has passed on. For a longtime now, however, I have contemplated the question of legacy, spoken on legacy, and written about it.  In conversations with clients and those I have the privilege of mentoring, I am certain to ask – “What impact do you desire to have achieved once your work on earth is done?”  And I personally practice what I preach by asking myself the legacy question at the conclusion of my work with others. It goes something like this, “What value did I add that is certain to outlive the work I have done here?”  I ask these questions not to focus on the accomplishments of the leader.  Rather, the impetus for such questions is to turn the attention toward the people a leader has the chance to impact.  In other words, what have you done with the gift of opportunity to positively impact the lives of others – both now and into the future?

After a recent speaking engagement, I was humbled to hear one of the leaders in the room comment openly on how she had been helped when I raised the legacy question with her in preparation for her move into the role of President for the organization.   Frankly, her critique of the value of being asked the legacy question “up front” inspired this week’s discussion.

Truthfully, when I first embraced the idea of legacy leadership as a tool in my work, it was a lot like talking about legacy after a person had passed on, as it was an “after the fact” question.  Conversely, in more recent times, I have been able to help others experience the greater value of asking and answering the legacy question at the point of engagement, instead of at the end.  This path allows others a more clear opportunity to set specific goals on approaching an assignment in a manner that will yield the greatest impact in the lives of others.

Beyond simply asking the legacy question, specific action steps are necessary.  There are, I argue, five action steps or better Five Living Essentials for creating a life-transforming legacy to powerfully impact the lives of others.  I call them the Five Living Essentials because they must come alive and be lived in order to make a real difference.  You might want to jot them down for personal application.

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Intentionality – Intentionality in leadership means you approach leadership intending to achieve something great. You do nothing by accident; rather, you operate from a well thought out and written strategy and plan of action.  In other words, the best leaders live with purpose.  The intentional leader searches to find the precise reason they live on this earth and are deliberate about the journey to achieve just that.  When intention meets purpose, it sets the stage for transformation, and authentic leadership is born from life’s transformational moments.

Authenticity – Authentic leaders are true to the person they say they are and practice ‘what you see is what you get’ type leadership.   These leaders refuse to profess one lifestyle while living another.   As such, authentic leaders immerse themselves in self-awareness and self-development and emerge more mature with the ability to remove the masks that prevent them from walking in purpose and developing into the unique persons they were intended to be.  As an authentic leader, you will ably express vulnerability thus inspiring others to do the same.  In fact, authentic leaders admit wrong and embrace change.  Instead of simply imitating others, authentic leaders boldly live life as they were created to live.  In doing so, these leaders are more capable of being their true selves with others.

Transparency – Transparent leaders operate from a place that allows the light of their innermost selves to be seen by others, as they are marked by the uncanny ability to be candid and open with self and others.  In short, authenticity is about self-awareness and self-development while transparency is more about self-disclosure or self-expression that allows others to see your true person.  In other words, transparent leaders reveal self in new stratospheres.

Influence – Influence carries the power to produce results, and the most influential leaders realize they both influence and are influenced by others.  Influence is an ethical question about you as a leader knowing and understanding your power to influence or be influenced in an ethical manner.  Power is simply possessing authority, but influence is the ‘know how’ in using power to achieve good.  As such, you strive to know those who are within your sphere of influence and understand you often influence just because you hold the title leader.

Impact – Leaders of impact drive to make a difference in the lives of others.  They are driven by the very possibility of leaving behind for future leaders valuable lessons that will cause them to also become leaders of impact.  Influence is about how a leader uses power.  On the other hand, impact is the result of powerfully using influence in an ethical manner.

In whatever role you work, live, or play, it takes all of these elements to create legacy, and to be distinguished as a leader.  Which elements have you already embraced?  Which ones do you yet have to adopt?  What will be your legacy?

williams_geneace09_v3 Until Next Week, Best Wishes on the Journey, Dr. G

Copyright © 2015 Geneace Williams