My Obituary Photo and Leadership Growth

Posted by on Jul 11, 2014 in Change, Competence, Self-awareness, Uncategorized | 0 comments

I’ve noticed that my local paper often contains obituary photos of young people… who have died in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Why use a photo so separate from today’s reality?  That got me thinking about who I am today versus the person I was in my twenties, when I first became a leader. Please don’t put her photo on my obituary. She is not me, anymore.

Not me, anymore

Coincidentally, this week I ran into a person I knew some years ago, when I owned my real estate brokerage business called The Property Shop, and a land development business called Sterling Tern Realty Trust. She asked me if I am still with the builders association. I have remained that person to her, for my changes are more visible to me and not, perhaps, so visible to others.  And yet, that is not me, anymore, though she is still a part of me.

I have saved my old business cards over the years.  The ones from my real estate days all

Not me, anymore

have photos.  Over the course of a decade, I started out working for others and then for myself.  These cards and their photos provide me a physical representation of my growth in competency and maturity.  I treasure them for that.  But I am not those people anymore, though they are a part of me.

The learning came with bumps and bruises – both my own and others.  I was not a good leader at first, although certainly I tried. Last week someone said to me that leadership cannot be taught.  The situation did not allow for a rebuttal but oh how I disagreed, and how well I articulated why in my head.   I know clearly what I have learned, and how hard won those learnings were.

I finished a coaching engagement with a C-suite executive client this week and during our closing assessment together when I asked him what he wished I had done differently.  He said “I wish you had come into my career twenty years ago.”  He had learned an enormous amount about himself as a leader and about leadership in general in the time we worked together.  Will his bosses be open to seeing that growth?  Or are the changes more visible to him and in spite of how he interacts with the organization and his staff will his bosses have a fixed view and see him as he was?  Does he need to tell them?  He is not that man, anymore.

Not me, anymore

In another instance this week, a client who has been in her role less than a year was frustrated with her lack of clarity about the large organization she had joined, part of an industry that was new for her.  But after she shared the reactions of others to her vision and her plan for the future, I was certain she had great clarity.  She could articulate her vision clearly, and everyone with whom she had communicated had agreed with it.  She had clarity, but hadn’t recognized her own growth.  She was still seeing herself as she was when she joined the organization.  Yet, she wasn’t that person anymore.

We grow, hopefully.  We change.  We mature.  We learn.  We are not static rocks upon the soil, and yet even they change, albeit far slower, in response to the wind, and the rain.   I am not who I was.  I recognize that.  I work hard to recognize that in others as well, especially my children – who are now leaders themselves.  Do not put a picture of my twenty-year old self on my obituary.  I am not that woman, anymore, though she is a part of me.

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