Three men walked down the road,
As down the road walked he
-The man they saw
-The man he was, and
-The man he wanted to be
In 1982 (wow) I was a ninth grader at a school with a Junior ROTC program. Our teacher was a former drill instructor, a lifelong Marine, and an all-around interesting man. I did not impress him nearly as much as he impressed me. He dropped these words of wisdom on us in class once, and though I do not remember the context of the sharing, I have carried those words since.
The meaning that I’ve found in them has shifted over these many years, and continues to shift. Early on, it was about how we masked our true selves from others and how we aspired for a different future self. At this point in my life, I see it more about self-awareness, about authenticity, about growing. Who knows what it will mean to me in another 25 years.
So Tim, what’s your point? Well, I’m glad you asked.
In leadership, authenticity shines. It gives those you lead a beacon to follow through cloudy and uncertain times. Authentic leaders build trust, model integrity by aligning their words and actions, take ownership of wins and losses, show the appropriate blend of positive and realistic views. Big boots, aren’t they?
Think about this with me for a minute. Imagine a Venn diagram with a circle each for: who they saw, who he was, and who he wanted to be. If I recall my algebra terminology correctly, intersection is the space where the circles overlap. Thus, we become more authentic as we increase the area of intersection that these circles have with each other.
Self-awareness creates this area of intersection. Self-awareness provides a key to authentic leadership. Self-awareness is a journey, not a destination. I don’t really believe that many of us ever get these circles to fully overlap; I do believe that persistent effort and focus on becoming better will increase this are of intersection.
Tell me what you think.