I’d always thought I had many of the characteristics of a good leader, but until I read Building the Bridge as You Walk on It, I had no idea how far away I actually was from the fundamental state of leadership. I, like so many other times in my life, was not actively working on filling my gaps in integrity, thus never allowing myself to achieve excellence.
My biggest gaps in integrity, the things really keeping me in the normal state, is that for too long I have been comfort-centered and self-focused. Rather than working towards finding my purpose, I tend to take the easier path while only keeping myself in mind. For me, that has meant going to work and doing my daily routine rather than thinking about how I can drive our mission. Going to school and thinking only about getting the best grade, rather than what I can really learn.
I begin my path towards the fundamental state of leadership with appreciative inquiry. For quite some time, I have been asking myself “How can I find more purpose in what I am doing?” In asking this, I’m approaching it as a problem that I can solve, and thus I’ve been in the normal state. I’ve only just begun to move away from this thinking by finally asking myself a new question, “Why I am trying to find more purpose?” The truth is, I am starting to realize that if I keep on this path, entropy will prevail and my energy will slowly dissipate. I have to start listening to the signals, and I need to a make change.
I’ve decided to bring energy to the system, and to begin focusing on what I believe is unique about me. While not many would know it because it’s something I try and hide from others, I’m a storyteller. I love writing stories and capturing them visually through photography. I always have.
In an effort to begin focusing on adaptive confidence, I have begun writing again. And unlike many times before when I didn’t want to face uncertainty, I’m sharing it with others. When I first told my wife I was writing and even told her about the details of the story, something happened. She actually began telling me about a story she wanted to write herself, something I never knew she was interested in. It didn’t stop there either. The next day, at a dinner with friends, I opened up and told them about my story, something I didn’t think I would ever do. To my surprise, I wasn’t met with the criticism or speculation I thought I would have been.
Instead, it led to the many stories they were interested in, and even ones they wanted to write about. Again, something I would have never known otherwise. I was watching change occur in front of me, however small it may have been. Seeing this small change was inspiring, and the next day I almost finished an entire chapter of the book. In doing so, I realized the importance of reflective action.
When it came to writing I had always been reflective, but had never taken action. I had finally begun creating the positive tension I needed to and facing my own hypocrisy. I realize reflective action can’t stop here. To keep filling my integrity gaps, I must focus everyday on what I believe my purpose is, and this means I must continue to write and create my story.
Detached interdependence will be incredibly important if I am to keep writing and pursuing a more purposeful path. No one will hold me to writing. I will have no one to blame if don’t do it. I will have to focus on taking responsibility and remaining disciplined if I ever want to reach the last chapter of my book. I will undoubtedly have to lean on others for help, inspiration, and motivation to keep writing, but I will be the one who is ultimately responsible for what is written.
There are many steps in the process of self-change and these are part of it. I have begun telling others I am writing a novel. I have made it a priority and am scheduling time every day to focus on it. I am aware that there will be failures along the way. By no means is any of this declaration that I am now a leader, but rather an acknowledgement that I have begun the process of self-change. Perhaps in doing so, I might inspire and lead others to do the same. Whether it’s writing a novel or any other endeavor, we all have to start somewhere. For me, that’s picking up the pen.
Are you working through self-change or trying to fill your gaps in integrity? Please share in the comments below!