For 22 years, I have signed off Read 2 Lead with the line, “lead with your best self.” It implies the obvious: often we lead with something other than our best! This closer implies, quite intentionally, that in some sense we have multiple selves. My friend and coach Cathy Raines introduced me to Shirzad Chamine, a thinker who has developed a very useful method to help identify and unleash the best self. He’s reduced much of my thinking on the central need to “lead the leader,” i.e., to lead yourself, to this basic premise:
Your mind can be your best friend. And your mind can be your worst enemy.
Chamine taught at Stanford and founded the Coach Training Institute (the largest coach training and certification program in the world). He offers a great introduction to his work in this TedX Stanford talk and in his book Positive Intelligence. At his website, Positive Intelligence, two simple tools – that take five minutes max – will immediately take his Ted and book ideas and personalize them, and make them quite vivid for you.
In ten years of teaching at Cal Berkeley, one line has become my go-to as I invite students to “lead the leader.” That is: “Awareness creates options.” I am finding Chamine’s work to be the best I have read to create awareness about how I can – and when and why I don’t –
lead with my best self.
P.S. Everything old is new again. In a poem attributed to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow he wrote:
There was a little girl,
who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.
(I love that the “little curl” is in the middle of her forehead. It splits the brain – as if between her best friend and her worst enemy. And a curl – not a straight lock – that portends a great mystery.)