Our growth journey from being individual contributors to eventually leading others almost always starts with acquiring new knowledge and developing new skills. For some, indeed, these are the only areas in which they are interested in pursuing growth and development. They take pride in what they know and in the results they deliver, confident in their ability to do the work themselves or direct others to do so effectively.
There may be a handful of business situations where this kind of thinking is sufficient to carry the day, where all we need from a team member is their hard-earned technical expertise, and we don’t particularly care about their ability to learn, teach, or lead. However, for the most part, this is far from ideal. In the great majority of circumstances, by far, the type of thinking that encourages developing technical expertise at the expense of all other skills gives us exactly the opposite of what is needed: a “brilliant jerk” who is a superstar but makes a lousy team member and an even lousier boss.
Those of us who get clear that there is, in fact, more to leadership than just being a functional expert who can get the job done, focus on developing what are called the “soft skills.” They are the people you will see studying or attending sessions on their interpersonal skills, and developing a better understanding of their dominant traits and those of others around them. They may indulge in self-help literature and workshops so that they can become more effective in their communication and interactions with others. These are the people who are functional experts, but work hard to build on their functional expertise to also become effective team members and team leaders.
When it comes to moving even beyond ordinary leadership development, however, there is an entirely different realm that truly unlocks the potential of your existing knowledge and skills and transforms you from a functional expert with leadership ability into a Transformative Leader. This other realm has nothing to do with learning anything new, and everything to do with accessing what it is you already possess and naturally utilize every single day. It is not so much about self-help, but rather self-discovery. It is not about trying and toiling to shape yourself into an extraordinary leader, but about revealing, recognizing, accessing, and manifesting the Transformative Leader that you already are and have always been. It is not about doing different things, but about who you’re being and how you’re showing up while you are doing what you normally do. It is about getting re-acquainted with the all-powerful being that you are deep down—something which you share with everyone else—and understanding what is preventing you from showing up that way all the time. (And then it is about getting whatever that is out of the way!). It is about discovering the causes and conditions that allow your inner Transformative Leader to manifest effortlessly on command—not just randomly—and then setting up those causes and conditions in all areas of your work and life, such that you always show up as your best self by default, in every situation. It is about become the most effective version of yourself that you can be, and mastering the skill of creating the designed future of your choosing, starting right where you are, no matter where you are.
That all sounds pretty ambitious, doesn’t it? You may ask, “What exactly does this voyage of self-discovery entail?” Once again, it has much less to do with learning new things than it does with unlearning old things, because they are what keeps you from putting into practice what you already know. In my book, The Transformative Leader, I write about an abundance of hidden saboteurs that keep us from doing what we already know we should be doing. I have also published a blog post, titled “The Truth About Why We Don't Do What We Know We Should,” further expounding on this topic. The key to effectively discovering and manifesting the Transformative Leader within involves an experiential journey focused on placing yourself in the designed future you desire to create in whatever area of life is important to you, looking back and identifying the most effective actions you can take right now to produce the greatest progress toward that designed future…and then getting in action on them! I guide the participants of our private and public workshops through this very process of taking such steps—as well as the many pitfalls to avoid in doing so—to deliver massive breakthroughs in their personal and professional lives.
One of the many powerful distinctions that has received rave reviews from participants of our workshops is the concept of “100% commitment vs. partial and conditional commitments.” I write about this in the blog post titled “The Profound Power of Unconditional Commitments.” Acknowledging that we are, at best, partially committed to most of what we say we are fully committed to is what liberates us to powerfully choose to either unconditionally commit ourselves and move on productively, or declare that we are not committed, unburden ourselves and accept the short term consequences of doing so, and move on productively. Among the several testimonies I have received on the power of this concept is the one that was posted on my website about one of the participants of a 4-hour session that I held several months ago. He went on to use this one simple concept to cause a profound and immediate shift in the state of his health, mental well-being, relationships, and professional development.
Brent didn’t learn anything new in the session. He simply re-discovered something about himself that had always been present and he chose to act on it. He already knew what he needed to do to lose the 60 lbs. that he lost. He knew exactly what he was doing—accidentally on purpose—to sabotage his relationship with his fiancé. He knew what had to be done to get back to graduate school. What he discovered in the session was what was holding him back: himself! In his case, it was the fact that his commitment to achieving to all that he achieved in the months following the session had heretofore been partial and conditional. He got this, not as an abstract idea, but as a deeply personal realization that he was simply not committed to all of those results in his life that he had publicly pretended—as we all do—to be committed to. That was the compelling trigger that set the wheels in motion for Brent to make several decisions and follow through on his commitments and deliver extraordinary results and experiences for himself and the communities that counted on him, results which have only built on each other since then.
This type of discovery, which is also referred to as “transformative learning,” as opposed to “informative learning,” is what I am after whenever I write a post, publish a book, give a talk, or hold a workshop. While I strategically work with clients to bring the appropriate “informative learning” experience to their team, by far the greatest breakthroughs are generated through this process of self-discovery and self-revelation, and the powerful decisions that follow.
I would like to invite you to join us, and a small group of like-minded professionals, at the next Transformative Leader Workshop Retreat on Sep. 14-15 in Atlanta. We look forward to guiding you in your own journey of self-discovery that will compel and energize you to go beyond mere functional expertise or regular leadership, to access the Transformative Leader within and finally deliver the breakthrough results that you know you are capable of and are tired of waiting on to just happen.
Have a great week! May you Boldly Declare, Courageously Pursue, and Abundantly Achieve the Extraordinary! I would love to hear about your victories and/or challenges. Please leave your comments below or send me an email at email@example.com.
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