You are not your job!
How knowing who you are expands
your opportunities and your confidence
Years ago, a CEO we knew was looking for her next challenge because she joined her current company when it was floundering and did such a good job in righting the ship that there were no major challenges left for her.
A funny thing happened on the way to her next CEO role. She started to doubt her ability. She knew she could lead her current company with both hands tied behind her back because it was familiar. In the past, she had successfully run other companies and divisions within companies. And prior to that, she learned the value of intelligence and hard work from a mother who had also been a successful CEO in a time when there were precious few women in that role.
As she looked to the outside world for a new company to run, her familiarity with her current position acted like an emotional anchor on her confidence. She knew that to doubt herself was irrational but she couldn’t silence the dialogue in her mind that she might not be good enough, that she was a pretender waiting to be exposed. It didn’t matter that every personal and professional quality in herself she was questioning she had proven to be extremely competent at many times over.
In her time as the CEO of this company, she had come to define herself as her position. Her entire being had come to be defined by her leadership of this company. This, of course, is the tail wagging the dog. Who you are should be defined independently of your career and then your career should be an extension of your personality. In reality, it’s not quite that black-and-white but you get the drift. So she embarked on a Personal Blueprint to regain independent control over how she defines who she is.
In the course of the conversations in her Blueprint, it became very apparent that she needed to clean up a mess in order to be inspired and fulfilled in a leadership role. She loved having to rebuild the collaboration and focus of a leadership team. She loved really digging into the business drivers to figure out which strategic levers to pull. And she loved motivating a company culture to work together towards a common purpose.
That conversation made us think of the expression “leading safely through the minefield”. She joins a company that has lost its way, she points the way out of the mess and then proceeds to lead the company safely through the mine field to the other side. This resonated with her as her Core Proposition (her 7 words or less) because it was something she always knew about herself but could never articulate.
Now that she could put it into words, it gave her a clear filter to assist in all of her important decision-making. She just had to ask herself is this decision I am making or this direction I am taking consistent with “leading safely through the minefield”? If it is, there is a higher probability of a successful outcome because it will be aligned with who she is and what inspires her. And if something doesn’t pass the minefield sniff test, it should probably be avoided because it is more likely it will be unsuccessful.
It takes a constellation of personal and interpersonal skills to “lead safely through the minefield”. She has to be able to manage incredible pressure. She has to have a clear focus. And she has be able to convince people to join her because they can only succeed together. All of these qualities and more are triggered intuitively in the minds of listeners because they already know they are the types of skills necessary to “lead safely through the minefield”.
“Leading safely through the minefield” immediately started to silence the voice of self-doubt in her mind. She was able to articulate, to herself and others, her full value in a clear, concise and compelling way. She was able to look out at all of the troubled companies in the marketplace and know with confidence that they were leadership opportunities that would make full use of her skills, and that would both fulfill and inspire her.
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