How do you want to lead your life?

How do you want to lead your life?

Pam Slim. February 8, 2010.

I had a very interesting coaching conversation the other day with a bright young woman. We were talking about her desire to expand her business and play bigger in the world.

(And don’t worry, I asked her permission to tell this story.)

When I asked what would happen if she started to put herself out in the world in a bigger way by offering more programs and connecting with more people, she got kind of quiet. I asked her what it would mean to her life if she grew her business.  This is what she said:

“I would have to be out there with people all the time and wouldn’t be able to spend days at home re-energizing.” (she is an introvert according to the Meyers-Briggs, which means she needs time alone to re-charge her battery)

“I would ramp up my business, then if I decided to have kids, it would be hard to give that up so I could focus on being a mom.”

“I would have to have all the answers and I am not sure I do.”

I listened to her, and realized that she had very strong ideas about what it meant to be a leader. And I wasn’t sure that this definition of leadership was one she wanted for herself, it was the model that she saw practiced by people she viewed as “successful.”

So our homework assignment was to come up with a definition of leadership that only applied to her life and situation. If she wanted to be known as a leader who worked one day a month, that was OK. If she wanted to lead by having the freedom to change her mind frequently, that was OK too.

So how about you — would you be willing to do the same assignment?

Complete this sentence with as many points as you like:

I demonstrate leadership of my own life by: (* see below for Julie’s note)

(Fill in the blank).

Here is my own list:

I demonstrate leadership of my own life by:

  • Only doing projects that energize me
  • Only working with people who energize me and who share similar core values
  • Not working more than my body can handle
  • Leaning into my market and listening for what they want
  • Actively looking for fun and joy in work
  • Not having the expectation of being perfect
  • Occasionally feeding my kids potato chips for dinner and not worrying about it
  • Contributing to the global discussion of what work means in the 21st century
  • Hugging my kids and husband every day
  • Being open to feedback and coaching in areas of weakness and fear
  • Being gentle with myself when I screw up
  • Representing myself in a way that my mother, grandmother and daughter would be proud of
  • Being proud of being a woman and a mother
  • Risking being wrong
  • Holding love and compassion in the highest priority

Do I do all of these every day? Rarely. But this vision of leadership feels right to me. I am sure your list will be very different, but I hope it feels right to you.

Thanks for pondering this question. And thanks to my client for letting me share her story.

*Note from Julie: Tweak this statement till it resonates personally for  you. “I demonstrate leadership of (in) my own life by:”
What are you looking for in your life? What happens when you substitute “leadership” with strength, command, control, initiative, power, greatness, skill, or ability for example? Another powerful exercise from Pam. Thanks Pam Slim.

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