Category Archives: Self-actualization

An Age-Old Truth!

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Last week, I started on a journey to offer insight on Leadership as Process.  I suggested that whether you are a born leader or were born to lead, all leaders experience transformation on some level.  Thus, I maintained leaders are “formed for success” from the inside  out.

As I set down this week to deliver on my promise to further discuss Leadership as Process, I recalled the words of my friend – “all of life is a process.”  In turn, I thought perhaps it would be beneficial to begin by delving a bit deeper into what Process – in this context – really means.  Process, I contend, is a series of specific actions that produce or lead to a particular outcome.  The same can be said of leadership; how far you are able to go and what you are able to accomplish depends largely on knowing your desired outcome, charting the course to reach your ultimate goal, and taking the necessary steps to get there. Process is action oriented and outcomes driven.  In other words, Process has an end in mind. At the same, time, it is characteristically dynamic – suggesting that Process in Leadership is not static but nimble enough to withstand corrective measures when necessary.

In preparing this week’s post, I thought about what this all means in real life application and immediately remembered my many years of experience as a litigator.  Whenever I started with a new case, I would sit with my case, study it inside and out, develop a litigation strategy, and outline specific steps to follow with one – and only one – goal in mind – winning.  To win as a leader, I propose, requires a System or Process by which you choose to live and operate.  That system or process is essential in the lives of leaders, as it becomes formation in action.

In that way, Leadership is a Process of formation.  It is individual, inside out work that develops, shapes, changes, refines, reforms, transforms, molds, and prepares. Unlike external work, which is temporal, true formation work lasts, as the internal is infinite.  That is – true formation is transforming and transformative.  It is an outgrowth of a continual and critical model of self and life reflection that will provide you an opportunity to learn as well as grow. In short, the greatest leaders understand they are shaped for the better by life’s experiences—something I term experiential formation.

Experiential formation teaches experience is life’s greatest instructor. But experience can be the best teacher only when we learn the lesson an experience was designed to teach. Nothing happens in life apart from experience. Often whether young or more mature we become our expe­rience—good, bad, or indifferent, as experience shapes, forms, and reforms, and life is made up of a series of experiences.

One of the many experiences you may encounter as a leader in the formation process involves what may feel like moments of exile. Resist the temptation to define yourself by your exile.  Understand your response while in exile will character­ize you. Be assured that wilderness moments are temporary.  Wisely use your time to traverse the rough places in ways that foster and encourage listening, learning, and growing.  Understand the power, meaning, and depth of transformation that is often commu­nicated in the whispers of the quiet, and avoid the temptation to run, sprint, jog, or dart from the very idea of spending time alone. Rather, comprehend the value that is gained for your journey during the quiet and time of reflection.

Evaluate life expe­riences as well as how you respond to them as a means of better understanding behaviors, patterns, growth (or lack thereof), and opportunities for further development in your walk as a leader. The result, I hope, will be that you come to appreciate that wise leaders use their experience as a catalyst for growth and development. They understand the value in lessons learned and turn tragedies into triumphs and testimonies to encourage others on their own roads of life.  This I would offer is the dynamic aspect of “Process” mentioned earlier.

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In truth, wise leaders leverage experience for a greater good and view the setback as a setup allowing them the opportunity to operate in an even greater space and pave the way for exponential impact. Unfortunately, absent close assessment, experiences are often repeated because the intended lesson has gone un-interpreted. The value of expe­rience can often be gained only through close and critical examination, and the greatest leaders allow their experiences to aid them on the inside out journey of becoming even greater contributors in the lives of others.

Thus, Leadership as Process requires we each take steps similar to those I took for years preparing to win a case… Sit with life, study and understand who you are and your specific goals for your life as leader. Develop a strategy for where you want to go along with the specific steps you will follow to get there.  Take the twists and turns of experience as a teacher in the refining process, and never be afraid to begin again.  As I suggested last week – Everything Begins With a Start…

Until Next Week, Best Wishes On the Journey… Dr. G

williams_geneace09_v3  Dr. Geneace Williams, Esq.

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

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

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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

Be a Bridge

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This past week while on campus at Benedictine University to teach my usual Business Law course, I noticed a huge gray wall constructed in the middle of the hallway in the Kindlon building where class is being held. It caught my attention because it is a recent addition to the décor: one not there even the week before. While many words were inscribed on this wall, four in particular stood out – Build Bridges not Walls. The wall and those four little words, prominently displayed, nearly stopped me in my tracks leaving me to ponder – how could I possibly share the significance of the imagery now embedded in my mind. Here I was minding my own business on my way to teach a class when I glanced at this wall and found inspiration staring back. With so much racing around in my head, I could hardly make it home from class fast enough to jot down the thoughts that had been occupying my mind the entire evening. I knew then as I know now this topic is ripe for discussion.

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For certain the inscription got me to thinking not only about how I live my life, but also about the real impact of those four little words on how we all choose to live our lives. Do walls of indifference and separation surround us, or are we drawn together by a bridge built to overcome difference and divide? Quite frankly, this prompted me to recall a line from my first book on leadership – “you must get out of the boat in order to walk on water and move from the side of the road to build a bridge.” It was a line I had penned to encourage and inspire others toward the value in leadership as sacrifice. What I meant was in order to achieve something of significant proportion we must contribute something of import to the lives of others.

This momentary experience had taken me to a contemplative place connected to the transformational significance of bridge building to overcome the divide between people, places and things. Indeed this four-word phrase, captured on a wall for the general consumption of college students – and apparently all who visit campus, – had and has the power to bring about change in the world in which we live transforming it for the better and for all. But words alone are powerless to transform. It takes people to drive transformation. And I was left with this one pregnant question that perhaps you too are inspired to raise with self – what am I doing to build a bridge or better “be a bridge?” What am I doing to be a bridge to people who do not think like me, look like me, act like me, respond like me, or even have the privilege of living like me, but who are people nonetheless? What good have I sown into the lives of others causing me to reap a harvest in kind? What will I do tomorrow on behalf of an-other different than what I did today?

As I turn the page to close this blog, I am reminded of a physical bridge of significant US history located in Selma, Alabama. This weekend thousands of Americans from across the country have gathered to commemorate “Bloody Sunday,” a 1965 march for voting rights, wherein marchers attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge and were beaten and tear gassed at the foot of the bridge never to make it across that day. It is no coincidence that just at the time I am writing this blog people are gathering at this bridge once again, as we still have a ways to go as a nation and for that matter as a world. The importance of a bridge is tied to its symbolism as a structure that overcomes barriers and facilitates safe passage over an obstacle. Thus, one important factor for real transformation is that more of us become bridge builders to help others not only survive, but more importantly thrive. What good have you done today? For whom have you built or become a bridge? If you find you are dissatisfied with your current answer, tomorrow is yet another day!

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

Book Quotes taken from Leadership DASH: Breaking Through the Finish Line with permision.

Copyright © 2015 Geneace Williams

Just Say No!

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The popular three-line statement after which this Blog is named was born out of former first lady Nancy Reagan’s passion for discouraging children from experimenting with drugs. Since then, however, “Just Say No” has taken on considerable popularity in an untold number of venues. From credit cards to relationships to the foods we eat, “Just Say No” is a household term that has gained and maintained significant notoriety around the power and importance of saying no. Just googling this simple phrase led me to a website of the same name that is self-described as the “No Community across social platforms.” In short, wherever you find strung together these three one syllable words they are meant to encourage you to say no – where and when appropriate for you.

In reality, however, it is not as easy as it sounds. As I look around the world, I am constantly baffled at how difficult it is for some (including me at times) to say no while others find NO something they deliver with ease. I was reminded of this fact during a conversation with a friend this week wherein she said, “I am amazed at how it is so easy for me to say No to me and yet so difficult to say No to others.” Of course, her statement got me to thinking about the reality of how difficult it is for many to say no – even when it is in their best interest to do so. Whether it is saying no to a family member, friend, employer or client; an organization whose cause we love, or a solicitor who sends an email promising the world in exchange for little or nothing, saying no is a healthy essential in life that allows us to maintain balance and boundaries. It is often said – saying no is easier for men than women; but I dare not tackle that subject in this short blog. My goal is to encourage ALL of us around the growth that is achieved when we learn to give and receive the necessary – No.

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This thought provoking conversation with my friend prompted me to think about how the inability to say no is often associated with an “addiction.” And here I use the term loosely as I am aware the word addicted has its own set of issues and can trigger all types of responses. But hear me out before you hit close and stop reading. I suggest it is possible many have trouble saying no because perhaps we have become a world that is addicted to saying yes. While addicted often points to substance abuse, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary and other sources I referenced, addiction is “to devote or surrender to something habitually,” or as another source recorded – “enthusiastically devoted to a particular thing or activity.” The truth is, we find it difficult to say no for a variety of reasons including guilt, pressure from others, co-dependency (a term used by my psychologist friends), threats both perceived and real, and of course our habitual “friend” – fear. And fear, I argue is what keeps us addicted to saying yes. That is, we are often afraid of the outcome if we do not say yes.

But consider the following: In life, we must find balance where we are able to say no to some things so that we can partake in self-care, self-development, and yes self-actualization. If you always say yes to everyone else and what everyone else needs, it is almost a surety you are saying no to yourself on matters that really matter and particularly matters that make you better for achieving what you were born to accomplish. So today, I encourage you to learn the art of saying No, as it is often in the best interest of not only you, but also the person to which you are struggling to say no. If it is a “thing” to which you cannot say no like too much stress or eating too much of the wrong things, you would be surprised the sense of freedom you feel after just the first time of saying No.

So I offer you this “Call to Action.” In the upcoming week, take courage to confront fear by saying No to something you have struggled to say No to and experience a new sense of freedom. Take that newly found freedom and allow it to help you begin to establish healthy boundaries for when you say yes and when it is absolutely OK (in your best interest) to “Just Say No.”

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

Copyright © 2015 Geneace Williams