Tag 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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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.

Process Arrows

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

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.

Legacy

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