I love to read. As a life-long learner I learn from others’ writings and I believe integrous writers should always give generous attribution to authors whose ideas they embrace or write about. That’s why I often reference my ideas as I do here. Some time back I read Do More Great Work by Michael Stanier. It’s a short but good read. Stanier takes the reader through simple exercises that helps him clarify when he is at his best. In my case, I read the book with an eye to discover when I lead at my best. One exercise helps leaders discover their leadership vibe.
Stander suggests that leaders spend some time to choose words that best describe themselves when they are at their best. I did the exercise and found it very helpful. For example, some of those words for me included poised, reflective, and focused.
The next step, however, made this exercise stand out. After I picked about 20 words and narrowed them to a dozen or so I then wrote opposite each word a contrasting word that would describe me when I’m not quite myself. I didn’t necessarily choose words opposite in meaning but ones more anemic in contrast to the others. Opposed to the three words above I chose diplomatic, distant, and intense.
When I chose the contrasting words it helped clarify even better my leadership vibe, that state of leadership toward which I need to aim.
Here’s the list that contrasts when I’m at my best (on the left) and when I’m just ok (to the right).
- Non-anxious—self controlled
- Clear minded—distracted
- Present—just there
- Self-aware—self focused
I put this list in my file where I keep my personal mission statement and almost weekly I review it. These contrasting words remind me to seek to live them out as I lead and relate to others.
Take 10 minutes yourself and see if this exercise does for you what it did for me.