Lead? Who….me?

Miles Davis

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In The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner, one of the initial calls made to a reader is to first lead yourself. What I have learned so far as I delve into this area of study and experience is how critical it is to discover who you are.  No, seriously….

I really do get how “new-agey” or “self-helpy” that sounds.  If I had been presented with that exhortation earlier in my life, it would have elicited a derisive snort and that would have been the end of it.  However, in the more serious context of the course I’ve been taking and the books we’re been reading (see my earlier post here for background), the skeptic fog has dissipated some.  I have spent quite a bit more time writing out my personal story, rereading it and stepping back to see the touchstone experiences/people/movements that brought me to where I am today.

I hadn’t realized to what degree all my years of being a musician have created a deep foundation of desire for collaboration and enablement for the creation of something bigger than myself. Whether I was playing, fronting a band, composing or conducting, I never felt that it was about what I wanted.  It was (and IS) about the music.  I’ve even got a new “DO NOT ERASE” block on my whiteboard at work as a leadership reminder for me:

It’s not about you.

It’s not about me.

It’s about the music.

You have to start there, reflecting on who you are and what/who brought you to this point in your life.

I have discovered foundational values that have re-energized me in what I do.

Take some time. Look inside. Write and then read your story. It’s pretty cool.

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