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How Our Kids Make Us Great Leaders

When I came into the kitchen this morning, after my typical early morning surf session, I was surprised to see both my kids, toast in hand, running out the door.

“Have a good day!” I called behind them.

“Where are they going so fast?” I asked my wife.

It seems like it wasn't that long ago, I was starting my own morning running into a meeting with my former boss, Aaron, tired, and showing it. I’d been up all night taking care of my kids, one was sick and the other navigating some internal strife at school. I expected Aaron to give me grief, I clearly wasn’t bringing my best self to work that morning.

Instead he gave me a piece of advice I’ll never forget. He explained that having kids, and being a parent is the best practice for becoming a great leader. When you have kids they need you, first to provide, then to guide and finally to consult. All you need to do is show up for them no matter what. You need to show up even if you’re tired, or up against a deadline.

Speaking of showing up – your kids will likely pick up on your energy and reflect back the same way you are showing up to them, so be mindful of how you show up.

This bit of advice and compassion, in place of a reprimand, has stuck with me all these years. It shifted how I began to show up both at work and at home with my own kids. The results I was able to achieve with this simple action were transformative.

Shifting How We Show Up - Making Good Leaders Great

Shifting the way you show up at work is the most important skill I can help any of my executive coaching clients with.

Regardless of the room that you walk into, the energy you bring with you is just as important as the suit you’re wearing and the seat you have at the table.

How a leader shows up is everything. Most leaders do a good job of showing up when things are going well. You’ve probably already mastered this one since you are now in a leadership position. Showing up when things get hard, stressful or impossible, that’s what differentiates a good leader from a great leader.

How Do We Show Up As a Great Leader At Work?

I bet you remember how every boss you ever had has made you feel about yourself. Did they make you feel limited or expansive?

You see, as individuals, we view the world through a set of lenses. Those lenses will either limit what we see (like tunnel vision) or expand what we see (like a prism) and, thus, impact how we perceive and what we think about our circumstances. This, in turn, impacts how we show up in different situations.

We all have our own pair of lenses and filters to go with them. The concept behind these filters is that you've unconsciously developed them throughout your life's experiences, allowing you to see certain events in a particular way. These filters can give you resilience and optimism. On the flip side, they may be limiting your beliefs, or holding you back from seeing the full potential of yourself and what your life and career have to offer. By shining a light on these filters and moving forward purposefully to shift your perspectives you get to reshape your filters to become the best version of yourself at work and at home.

So How Do We Reshape Our Filters?

We start the process “inside,” where we find the root of most challenges and blocks to success.These include limiting perspectives about the world, defeating thoughts, and outdated beliefs unconsciously picked up from family, society, and the media. These might be “I’m not good enough'', or the imposter syndrome where we think others will discover we are in over our head and not qualified for the position we are in.

Many of these thoughts and feelings live under the surface, hidden from awareness, and are huge drivers of unproductive choices and behaviors.

A great place to start is to hone in on your values. Values are what make us tick and drive us. Being conscious of one’s values, allows people to take positive action. If a value is being honored, you experience joy and calm. When there is misalignment, then you may experience dissonance or unhappiness.

Start by asking yourself the following question:

Think about a time when life was really good. What value was being expressed or honored?

Think about a time you were upset. What value was being challenged?

So What Do Your Values Have To Do With Your Filters?

When you align with your values, and begin living by them, your filters begin to reshape to match all on their own. No support groups. No anger management. No magic pills, or silent retreats.

You just begin to shift.

Don’t believe me? Give it a try. And if you want someone to talk through your values and the shifts you know you need to make in your life, let’s connect.


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