Karen and Henry Kimsey-House start their new book, Co-Active Leadership, with a chapter on "the leader within," in my opinion, the most important and possibly uncomfortable element of their leadership model. It’s a refreshing text because we’re finally freed from the common belief that leaders need to be certain people with particular traits and qualities. What a relief to know that there is a leader in all of us and this does not have to be manifested on a podium or pedestal.
If someone had told me five years ago when I sat in a CTI training room and crafted a life purpose statement that it really would still be resonant for me today, I am not sure I’d have believed them. However, I have come to realize that 10 simple words never fail to offer me direction and inspiration as life moves on.
I attended a very different course recently and was surprised to realize that my response to new learning changed depending on which side of myself I chose to learn from - manager, mother, citizen of the world. I do believe that expressions of identity are fluid and re-definable but I was reminded when reading this book that "we will find many different expressions of our life purpose" (p26). That’s something to be excited about – so many possibilities.
Nevertheless, embracing the leader within takes huge courage because "we must stop holding our imperfections as a problem in need of fixing." An easy thing to say perhaps, but doesn’t almost every professional training course suggest otherwise? We are programmed to feel that we should always be bigger and better, that we should be more accomplished and "useful"? It really is a different way of being to be confident and comfortable that all aspects of self are in service of a life purpose.
As someone who blogs on leadership for a better world, I find the values-base to this leadership model extremely powerful and absolutely critical. While self-acceptance is at its heart, Kimsey-House and Kimsey-House urge us to make a difference to the world "from a place of generosity and heart." It’s a way of being; an approach to life.
I’m reminded of something a good friend once said to me, "I may not know my true life purpose but at least I can try to live a life of purpose." Suddenly, as I look around me, everyone is a flower blooming, budding or waiting to unfurl.