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The first step to becoming a great leader

In Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great, he talks about the rare ability that great leaders have to “confront the brutal facts.” Michele explains why some of us have trouble doing this and how to take the first step towards profound self-leadership.

Ok, I am putting it out there; I am a chronic late bill payer. Not because I don't have the money. It is, as my brother in law so wisely pointed out, because I like to see the BIGGER number in my bank account. Have you ever noticed that when you are avoiding something it grows conspicuously bigger day by day, moment by moment? For all the university students out there, who are currently supposed to be studying for finals, you know exactly what I mean.

Think about it; remember when you were in school and had that science project deadline? The English paper? When it was assigned you didn't start it but thought about it every day. The first day you thought about it for a few minutes but you had two weeks; why think about it now when you could go to the cafeteria and play Euchre!? Yet, every day the time you spent thinking about it seemed to expand; first five minutes, then 30 minutes, then that stomachache during lunch period. Finally, four days before the project deadline you were waking up in the middle of the night! If you added up all of the time you spent worrying about and avoiding the project, you actually spent more brain power thinking about it and avoiding it than if you had worked on the project every day for three weeks.

Now, some of you are thinking, what the hell is she talking about? I handed all of my projects in early just to get bonus marks. Well, dig a little deeper you overachievers. What conversations are you avoiding with your team, with the guy in the cubicle next to you, with your spouse? Which charity are you not making time for because, well, life is busy and you will get to it when you can? What decision about your job, a long-forgotten passion, a move, are you putting off because it feels just a little uncomfortable? Some of you are so accomplished at checking things off of your list you are completely disconnected from what you are avoiding.

Don't worry, I am not asking you to take on a massive action plan for all the things you have filed away in the dark recesses of your mind. I am asking you to take one step today. Just one. Acknowledge the thing you don't want to acknowledge. That's it, just one step. Admit that it is there. In Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great, he talks about the rare ability that great leaders have to "confront the brutal facts.”

My experience has shown me that it is rare in both organizational leadership and self leadership to look at, without judgment, so-called ugly truths. My friends and clients know that one of my favourite sayings is, just because you don't acknowledge it, doesn't mean it isn't true!

So take a deep breath, look at yourself in the mirror and answer the question, what am I avoiding in my job, in my organization, in my family?

Now, take another deep breath and pat yourself on the back. You have just taken the first step toward profound self-leadership.

Well done and stay tuned.


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