Monday, April 20, 2009
Who you really are, and why you've been so hard to find...
Part 2 of a continuing series on CEOing.
In just about every leadership or management book, course or seminar you’ve ever taken, somewhere within the first few chapters of the book or hours in the seminar, you will see or hear the familiar phrase: “know thyself!” And then the book, course or seminar will quickly move on to management tips and techniques on how to manipulate and control things.
Now don’t get me wrong, knowing how to manipulate and control the right things is of immense importance, but attempting to manipulate and control the people who are controlling the right things is a monumental waste of your time and energy. There is a more powerful way. And it begins with you.
If you’re reading this you probably think of yourself as an entrepreneur. Maybe not.. Being an entrepreneur is a role you play, no different than being a friend, a parent or an financial planner. That you are playing one role in particular has more to do with your ability to play the role, which has to do with certain aspects of your personality, which we will talk about in another post.
Who you really are is what you bring to the roles you play in your life.
You are a complex being, yet, if you stand back far enough, you are still very predictable. I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way. The truth is you just don’t know what you don’t know. And why would you when your entire life you have been told to be like someone else – and so has (almost) everyone else.
As you succeed in building a successful business, your first task will be to lead and manage people – staff and clients – who are trying to be somebody else! No wonder leading people has been describes as herding cats! The fact is you and just about everyone you know has been brought up in a culture that says for you to be valuable - for you to be happy, rich, thin you name it – you have to be like someone else. Think about it. Every book you’ve ever read (except mine of course) has told you that to be successful in life you need to be like someone else. Still don’t believe me: think In Search of Excellence, think Good to Great, think The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. Each ends up with a list of things that you absolutely must do to be like the people or the organizations featured in the stories. The fact is while you may be able to do or be like some of these people or companies for a time, it’s not sustainable. It will just totally exhaust you. To give you a concrete example: You will never, ever, no matter how hard you try, be Bill Gates. There is only one Bill Gates. And again, this is also good news, because no matter how much money and power Bill Gates amasses, he will never, ever be able to BE YOU!
So what I am saying is this: If you want to be powerful in your life, you must first understand and master yourself. Yet the majority of people define who they are by the roles they play and the expectaions of others and that has been the natural order of things for millions of years.
Who you really are, is what you bring to life simply by being in it! You may have been hard to find because you’ve been hiding behind the mask of other people’s expectations. To create a growing, sustainable company, you’re going to have to come out from behind that mask and be authentically you.
Let me say more about this last point. Who you really are is what you bring to the roles you are playing in life. Who you are is what you bring to being a parent during those moments when you find yourself being a great parent. Who you are is what you bring to being a CEO when you find yourself being a great CEO. Who you are is what you bring to being a friend when you find yourself being a great friend. Are you beginning to see a pattern here?
It’s easy to be you. It’s very natural. It’s only hard when you try to be someone else! It’s only hard when you constantly struggle to live into the expectations of others. Yet we spend our lives doing this. What I am saying here is be your SELF and help others do the same. There will be less stress, less struggle and less violence in your life.
Now before you think that’s selfish, nothing could be further from the truth. Who you really are is a contribution – a magnificent contribution! You have always known it – why do you think you want to lead others? We are about to find that part of you that has been lost for a long time.
There may have been times in your life, if you were very lucky, when you felt like time stood still, when what you were doing was effortless, and you actually felt joy. You may have been sailing a boat, looking into someone’s eyes, or being on a team or project. This may have been with the family, at work or in the military. Can you find a moment or time in your life when you were actually joyous? If you can I want to tell you something that no one else will tell you: This is how you were meant to live. You were, during those moments of joy, being authentically YOU! And when you are being authentically YOU, you light up the room. People find you irresistible! They want more of you and your ideas and your friendship. Wouldn’t you want to tap into more of that?
The reason you have been so hard to find is that you have been buried in all the reaction of life and have not had access to the creation in life. Now pay attention here, because this is all about to change for you. I am going to help you see the invisible forces that have, for your entire life, been running you and everyone you know. Now I want you to get this, because if you get this then you will know what all Powerful Leaders know - if you truly understand yourself, you will profoundly understand humanity – because we are all run by the exact same forces.
Next month: Our Reactive Identity.
Entrepreneur, speaker, author and CEO Coach, Tom Voccola is the CEO of CEO2, a Chief Executive Consulting Firm specializing in the rapid transformation of corporate and organizational cultures. Tom the author of The Accidental CEO – A Leader’s Journey from Ego to Purpose. His life’s work is to inspire a new generation of leaders who transcend ego and its fear based agenda. His work gives executives immediate and authentic access to new levels of power, influence and freedom within their organizations.