“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.”
Really love the words presented by Audre Lorde. The concept of creating your own definition of self is vitality important to truly progress in life. There are people who look in the mirror and automatically see bad examples staring back at them. Please know, the mirror can lie and the bad examples from the past do not have to hinder the present and/or future.
Bad examples can manifest in multiple locations. I will focus on two specific areas to help highlight how bad examples can and should be used to fuel a positive Walk into the Future. The two areas I focus on are leadership and personal development. I’m sure everyone has a story on bad examples in these areas as well. My attempt will be to show how these bad experiences can be leveraged for a positive tomorrow.
Would like to say everyone I’ve worked for has been an outstanding leader but that would not be true. It may not even be realistic to expect EVERY leader to possess the capability to be outstanding. Turns out the leaders who were not the best provided me with enough tough lessons to sharpen my leadership skills. Please note, I’ve had some great leaders/mentors in my life who I lean on even today. Their lessons are with me daily, but the few bad leaders impact my leadership style and methods as well.
I gravitated towards the Authentic Leadership style because I’ve seen organizations destroyed because the so-called leader wasn’t authentic. They profess being a genuine and transparent leader but then their true self comes out and it is the opposite of authentic. Seeing these type leaders in action reinforces why the concepts of authenticity, self-awareness, having a moral compass and relational transparency are so important in my leadership style.
I’ve seen leaders who walk by their direct reports’ multiple times in a day and never say hello. Seems like a small thing but how can you say you care about your people and can’t acknowledge them? Not saying a leader must stop and talk every time they see someone but it’s a lot easier leading people when you are relatable and engaged. Also, only talking with direct reports when something is needed or due signals the leader only cares about the bottom line. Staff will do more within a positive and nurturing work environment.
These are two leadership examples I leverage to help build my authentic leadership platform. I proactively do the opposite of these leadership examples because I’ve seen them in action and how they deflate staff and organizational morale.
That’s my approach, things I don’t like or disagree with from a bad leader, I simply don’t repeat—not rocket science but it works. No need to subject others to these habits—create positive energy and blaze your leadership trail to enhance the work environment.
There are instances where environment can hinder personal development but many more where great outcomes occur almost against all odds. Life is impacted by choices (good or bad) and we have the capability to choose not to mirror bad examples but learn from them.
I love working with college students from South Florida. They routinely tell me they’re the first person in their family to attend college and they want a different outcome for themselves. They don’t want to forget the struggles from home but use them to continue to grow. They also strive not to repeat some of the bad neighborhood examples others succumbed to.
They tell me of proactive actions they took to avoid running with the wrong neighborhood friends. These people may have been well intentioned but set bad examples of how to truly progress in life. They experienced family and community situations that potentially could hinder growth, but they didn’t let these things stop them. These things were used as inspiration to overcome obstacles.
Environment is an important element in personal development but can be overcome—I’ve seen it done. Mentors and positive examples can help with personal development. Self-awareness and learning from bad examples can increase the ability to blaze a personal development trail.
“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be”.
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)
How do you define yourself for you? What does your personal or professional mirror reflect? How can you leverage bad examples to enhance your Walk into the Future?