Leaders Are Made, Not Born
For most of the 20th century, people believed that leaders had to be tough, strict, demanding and accountability-driven.
Results were the most critical element and people were tools to get the jobs done.
However, the more academics, writers and social scientists studied leadership, they realized that there was no “one size fits all” for leaders.
In fact, people considered the most unlikely leaders could indeed grow into meaningful leaders if they continued to do one thing: practice leadership with an open mind, realizing that they are on a journey with no specific finish line.
I experienced this leadership journey in a very unlikely manner. You could say that I was made, not born, as a leader.
I retired after 32 years as Assistant Dean for Academic Conferences and Continuing Legal Education at Georgetown University Law Center, in 2017.
By the time I retired, I was running a multi-million-dollar enterprise. However, if you had told me when I was in my 20’s that I would end up overseeing a business, doing public speaking for a living, and serving as volunteer president of two national associations, I would have laughed and told you that you were crazy, dreaming or both.
I suffered from an inferiority complex growing up without even realizing it,
I suffered from physical limitations that limited any athletic prowess.
I was picked last in every team sport.
I was consistently teased by the boys I considered my friends.
I was given negative nicknames that accompanied me to school every day.
My mistake was I toted that story with me into my adulthood, never questioning or examining it.
Only when I unpacked my story and acknowledged it, then rejected it and adopted a new interpretation was I able to embrace my true leadership potential.
Instead of relying on a story of unworthiness and acceptance-craving, I used my same history to enhance four skills:
This allowed me to create a new story for myself and to really step into my own leadership shoes.
So ask yourself: What stories are you carrying around from your youth that no longer serve you?
How can you examine those stories and shift your paradigms?
How can you adopt new perspectives that help bring out the best leader within you?
I know in a very personal way that leaders are made not born. So work every day on making yourself a leader – the best leader you can be.