Leadership Transformation – Changing our Stories from the Inside-Out

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Leadership Transformation – Changing our Stories from the Inside-Out

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It’s hard for me to admit sometimes, but you can teach an old dog (yours truly) new tricks. But I’ve discovered that I am “teachable” at least some of the time.

I’ve been on a journey of new learning over the last few years related to— 

  • Developing my Certified Agile Leadership (CAL-I) class;

  • Developing myself as a Leadership Circle Profile coach;

  • Receiving training in ORSC – Organization Relationship and Systems Coaching.

Not only have I been learning, but I’ve been reflecting A LOT. Much of the learning has been changing me from an inside-out perspective. And some of that reflection has led to this article.

Specifically, it’s been inspired by my LCP instructor and coach, Shahmeen Sadiq. In a very short period of time, she had a profound effect on my thinking.

I’ve been writing and presenting quite a bit of storytelling. It’s something that I’ve made tremendous use of in my leadership journey. It’s also something that I’ve come to rely on when presenting or training.

At least I try to “lean into” stories as much as possible.

But this post isn’t about external storytelling. It’s about the internal stories we tell ourselves or that we believe for ourselves. These are the stories that frame our lens of ourselves and the world. And often, these might not be the best of stories.

But there’s good news. These stories can potentially be retold, reframed, and reborn. The truth can be shifted as can our lens.

Here are three examples for leaders. Shifting from common old stories to potentially game-changing new stories in our leadership journey— 

  • Old Story: I’m not sure if they can do it. And if they can, will it be good enough?

  • Old Story: If I want something done right, I have to do it myself.

  • New Story: When I do it for them, I’m robbing them of learning and growth.

  • New Story: What’s the worst that can happen, they fail and learn. Just like I did.

  • Old Story: If I don’t get it perfect, bad things will happen.

  • Old Story: I must do it perfectly right out of the gate.

  • New Story: My authentic voice, no matter how messy, connects me to other humans.

  • New Story: Some of the greatest discoveries surface from mistakes.

 

  • Old Story: My value is equal to how much they love/need me.

  • Old Story: I need to have people positively acknowledge me on a daily basis.

  • New Story: I’m enough even when we disagree.

  • New Story: Just being present, being centered, and being me is enough.

 

  • Old Story: I don’t feel trusted, so I don’t trust others. Why should I?

  • Old Story: There is no trust without full and auditable verification.

  • New Story: I’ve hired and work with trustworthy people and will extend them trust.

  • New Story: I feel trusted by my leaders and will walk in and extend trust in equal measures.

And my wording of these stories, new and old, isn’t perfect. They are intended as examples of before/after story-telling. I hope they resonate with you to illustrate the point.

I want to challenge everyone reading this to reexamine your “old stories”. Really look at them critically and challenge the validity of what we’re telling ourselves. 

And, if you find them no longer representing an accurate story of who you are or what you want to be…

Then, find new stories to replace them. And begin to repeat them to yourself daily.

Fairly soon, you might start seeing that the new stories becoming the new story of your life.

Thank you, Shahmeen for your wisdom!

Stay agile my friends,

Bob.

After I wrote this article, I came across a wonderful article in HBR by Monique Valcour and John McNulty. It’s entitled – To Make a Change at Work, Tell Yourself a Different Story. I feel that it compliments what I’m saying here incredibly nicely. They have some wonderful stories to share and really focus on reframing our stories. There’s also an emphasis on shifting our internal stories outward that I failed to amplify, but that’s really important. Please take the time to read it.

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