Embody Your Message
Back in late 2022, when I announced I was taking a ‘delivery sabbatical’, I explained that I wasn’t burned out, and I wasn’t bored. In retrospect, I reckon that one of those statements wasn’t wholly true!
Looking back, I was a bit bored. By ‘bored’, I actually mean ‘disconnected’. Disconnected from my own sense of purpose. Yes, I could say what I stood for (creating a connected world of leaders and change-makers ) but I’d lost some of the fire in my belly. I couldn’t feel it like I used to. Yes, I was still doing good work. But the drive wasn’t there like before. If I was going to stay motivated, and ultimately credible, something needed to change.
Cue the sabbatical. Fast forward to the outcome: the fire is back! Taking the time to stop and listen helped me reconnect with my sense of purpose. The sabbatical wasn’t so much of a process of reinvention as it was a process of reconnection.
The brilliant author Parker J Palmer sums it up this way:
“Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.”
It’s like shaking up a snow globe and allowing the flakes to settle. You can see what’s there more clearly. What’s there for me is a conviction for shaping leadership with depth. More than ever.
It’s likely that you’ve sat through a presentation from a senior leader whose message remains unconvincing. They’re saying the words, but their body tells a different story. Nothing really changes but the hands on the clock.
I’m hoping that you’ve also experienced a different form of leadership. Leadership that embodies the message. You don’t just hear it, you feel it. You leave with your body tingling and your mind buzzing. You feel more empowered, more engaged, more alive.
People who lead like this don’t need a script. They don’t need PowerPoint. They embody their message, and you feel it. That’s what matters. It matters because we need leadership that inspires us to contribute to a bigger purpose.
Some examples from the global stage, and the messages they embody:
Malala Yousafzai: education, empowerment, and courage.
Nelson Mandela: equality, justice, and forgiveness.
Oprah Winfrey: empathy, compassion, and philanthropy.
Mahatma Gandhi: nonviolence, self-reliance, and peaceful resistance.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg: fairness, equality, and justice.
In my work over the years helping leaders develop their authentic leadership style, I’ve noticed that the ones who grow the most are the ones who prioritise reflection time and use it well. Take New Zealand’s Deputy Chief of Army, Rose King, who in this short clip shares the value of reflection in her own leadership development journey.
When we slow down, we create the conditions to hear the voice that tells us what we’re really about. It’s from this place that true leadership comes from.
People feel purpose. They can feel it when you’re living it. And they can feel it when you’re not.
If you want to ignite the collective brilliance of others, you first need to do the work to connect with what you stand for, and embody your message.
What do you stand for? How do others experience it?
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