I took up a challenge to post four times this week … what was I thinking?
I took this challenge as I felt it would get me back into the groove of posting again. I kind of fell out of the writing habit several months ago. When I stopped writing I decided to give myself a break over the summer, knowing the right thing would happen when the time was right.
The question floating around my head has been with how messed up we humans are making this world, what’s the point of even trying so hard. That’s what led to my post yesterday when I pondered the question “what’s the point?”
When I wrote yesterday’s post I was confident I knew where I was going next. I thought the next post (today’s) was going to talk about how I see leadership. At the time the post was crystal clear to me and I knew what I wanted to convey. This morning I started to write it and had a familiar feeling come up.
Who am I to share my view of leadership? Why do I think I have anything to say about leadership people want to hear? What if people think my work is crap? What’s the point?
This is when I asked myself a critical question:
W.W.A.D? (“What would Art do?”)
I’ve talked about Art before. Art Shirk is one of the most influential mentors of my leadership and life. Art was one of the leaders of the CTI Leadership program I participated in through 2016. Art continues to have a profound impact on my life today, even though the last time I saw Art was January 6, 2017.
When I first met Art, he was wearing an oxygen tube under his nose. He told my Leadership tribe he had idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). IPF is a progressive disease with a certain progression. Without a lung replacement, death is always the end result.
Art passed away on January 10, 2017. When I received word of his death, I had to pull over for a few moments as I was driving. I didn’t cry but I did need a moment to refocus myself on driving.
I could spend a lot of time telling you about the times I spent talking with Art. They are actually not the point to this post. What I want to share is how Art had a significant impact on my beliefs of what true leadership is.
Art taught some of my biggest lessons like:
Leadership is living a life of purpose. Believing in something so strongly, you are willing to do it even though you know your time on earth is limited.
Leadership is having an impact every single day. You will never know the true impact of your leadership, and much like the butterfly it’s knowing you will start hurricanes sometimes (see yesterday’s post).
Leadership is loving yourself always. It’s easy to love the powerful parts of who you are, but you will not be whole if that’s all you love. Powerful leaders love themselves and who they are unconditionally.
Leadership is about going higher than you could have imagined. When you think you are completely exhausted and ready to quit. Take a deep breath, look inside, and just do it.
Leadership is believing in the potential of humanity. It’s easy to become burdened by all the bad stuff humans are doing. Despite this, don’t ever stop believing in others.
Leadership is trusting the winds are taking you exactly where you’re meant to be. All you need to do is let go of the things which burden you and trust you can have an impact wherever you find yourself.
What is leadership?
I draw my definition of leadership from countless perspectives. My friend and mentor Christopher Avery taught me to take responsibility. The CTI program helped me see I have the ability to respond to whatever life throws my way. Brene Brown has taught me the power of vulnerability. This list is exhaustive, and all of these experiences have me contemplating how I define leadership.
When I distil all my beliefs about leadership down to a single sentence its:
Leaders are those who take responsibility for their world, trusting in their ability to respond to whatever life throws their way.
It’s simple, and on the surface may not sound overly difficult. You might say I’ve simplified leadership too much. However, when you commit to such a journey you learn there is nothing simple about it. In fact, it’s one of the most difficult journies you could ever take because it means confronting everything that makes you who you are.
So, I know what would Art do? I can hear him asking me a question, which I will leave with you:
“If you really could go for it… if you could free yourself of the limitations and barriers that have held you back…and you could grab that brass ring of all of your potential and who you are, who would THAT be?” — Art Shirk