Let's LEAD - February 2021

Well, it's like soup...

A couple weekends ago I attended an online retreat, and the topics were so thought-provoking that I decided to share my experience with you.

To prepare for the retreat, we were given five questions to consider. I reviewed the questions but didn't do much beyond that...I like the idea of thinking on my feet when discussing in the group.

When we got to question #4, it threw me a bit; there was so much going through my mind that I had trouble moving on with the group to the last question. 

As others were sharing their thoughts, I did what many of us do...I found a friend on the call and started to 'direct message' her in the chat. I felt the need to reason out my thinking...

Here's the question: How do you come to a place of accepting another person's actions (or non-actions) as 'what is,' and not a definition of who they are?

Here's where I landed: YES, I can accept someone's behavior as 'what is,' AND it may or may not show me some part of who they are, as I perceive them

Huh? Stay with me here...

The question of 'who am I?' IS subjective. How I define who I am and how others perceive me don't always align.  

One participant on the call said something along the lines of 'I don't think I'll ever know who I really am.' If we're open and willing, opportunities to learn more about ourselves are often revealed, and they can be missed if we're not paying attention.

As for how I'm perceived by others, this is also going to depend on who THEY are, and on this I have no control. We observe and judge others through our filters: our values, beliefs, past experiences, etc. But does it (or should it) stop there? 

When I'm judging another's behavior, am I willing to question that judgement? Am I willing to take the next step and acknowledge that I don't know the reason you chose that behavior? Maybe I don't have the full story, and odds are I don't. Depending on my relationship with that person, am I willing to check in? Something like:

'I noticed that you were getting pretty frustrated on that call. What's going on?'

Now, let's flip that. As a leader, understanding how I am perceived by others is good information to have! Requesting feedback provides us with insights into those perceptions, and creates opportunities to learn more about ourselves and how we can become better leaders.

3 Tips - Getting to Know YOU!

Defining who we are is like a soup recipe...there are lots of ingredients, and we can add or subtract ingredients we like and don't like! If it doesn't work out, we can try something different next time.

Building our self-knowledge is an ongoing process, because we are constantly evolving as human beings. We're never really 'done'...new insights are revealed to us through our life experiences, again, if we're paying attention.

Self-Knowledge is the second of six (6) building blocks of our Self-Leadership model:

The two personal practices of Self-Knowledge include Curiosity and Clarity; as we become more curious about ourselves, we gain clarity about who we are and what we want. It is at that point that we come to a place of CHOICE; is this who I want to be? What changes do I need to make to be the leader I want to be?

Here are a few tips to building your self-knowledge:

  1. Notice. Developing our self-knowledge requires self-awareness, the 1st building block of Self-Leadership (see my August 2020 newsletter for more about developing Self-Awareness). This means being present to your emotional triggers and resulting feelings (am I happy? sad? afraid? surprised?), identifying what energizes and drains you, and being willing to explore those triggers, energy builders and energy zappers. 

    Additionally, notice your reactions to other's behavior. Notice when you're sitting in judgement; when another's behavior either draws you toward them or away from them. Your reaction to that behavior can act like a mirror; what is it telling you about YOU?

  2. Be open. Are you someone who is resistant to asking for feedback for fear of learning what others think or feel about you? I get it...feedback that you perceive as critical can be hard to hear, AND there are ways to get feedback that isn't too hard to take in:

    • Do you participate in regular one-on-one meetings with your boss or your own team members? Use time at the end of the meeting to ask for feedback using 'Start-Stop-Continue.' Just ask, and then listen: What should I start doing? What should I stop doing? What should I continue doing?

      NOTE: Start-Stop-Continue can be used in project or other team meetings, etc. Just swap out 'I' for 'we.'

    • I learned about this '3 Words' exercise a few years ago - reach out individually to 10 'loving critics'...people in your personal and professional life who care about you AND you know will tell you the truth, and ask them 'what 3 adjectives would you use to describe me?' 

      Bonus tip: Resist the temptation to question the words you receive. A word or two may come as a surprise, so just sit with it and ask yourself: 'How might this be true?' Remember...these words reflect how others perceive you, and our perceptions of ourselves don't always align with another's perception of you. 

  3. Take inventory. Tips 1 + 2 = 3. Use your self-awareness and openness to learn more about yourself. If you want to identify your core values, here's an exercise to get you started. Other inventories include identifying your strengths and weaknesses, limiting beliefs, etc. 

    Then, consider how you can HONOR your values, strengths, etc. by finding ways to express them in everything you do!

Again, developing our self-knowledge is an ongoing process. Pay attention to what is revealed to you over time. Then CHOOSE. Are there any changes you want to make to your recipe? What ingredients would you add? Omit? 

Sounds yummy!

Cool Resources

What I'm reading (articles, books*):

How can each of us leverage our strengths in everything we do? Writing this newsletter prompted me to go back to what I believe, IMO, is the best (and simplest) resource for identifying your strengths: StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath and the Gallup organization. 

*I use Amazon links (no affiliate relationship); please check with your book retailer of choice


"When someone shows you who they are, believe them..." -- Maya Angelou 

...and something more:  

When I began studying Emotional Intelligence, I started by reading Daniel Goleman's Emotional Intelligence and several of his books that followed. He recently started a podcast that you can subscribe to via LinkedIn.

Check it out!

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I look forward to connecting!

Camille McKinney
Leveraged Leaders