I am conscious I have not written a personal blog in some time. #NZLEAD takes up much of my free time and tends to take priority over other blog writing. I’ve been meaning to re-start writing a personal blog for some time now, but what to write about when much of my professional opinions are already covered in #NZLEAD?
I’m inspired by other awesome bloggers, in particular: Tash Pieterse (my #NZLEAD co-hostess) who shares her personal growth; Richard Westney, who presents unique, sometimes controversial and thought provoking opinions; and, Zoe Mounsey, who speaks to her experience moving to a new country. I’m inspired by their strength of conviction and warm honesty. So thank you, for inspiring me to start writing again.
So where to start? Authenticity has been on my mind for a while now. I’ve always been interested in it from a leadership perspective but recently it has slammed to the forefront. I started in a new job 9 months ago and have been working on my transition from a technical specialist role to one where I need to build strong relationships and influence. I have really struggled with this as relationship building is not a strong suit and I’ve been hampered by some confidence damaging situations.
When I struggle with stuff, I clam up. I get freaked out in large social situations, particularly when I don’t know people really well. I’m uncomfortable with extroverts; I’m more likely to say nothing at all than fight to make myself heard. I call it “going turtle”, as in I stick my head in my shell and stay there until the scary stuff goes away.
In Bikram yoga, the teachers talk about looking in the mirror and accepting yourself – your lumps, bumps, cellulite, bad skin etc. and still loving yourself for it. Philosophically I’ve always got that. It’s a great metaphor for authenticity. You put yourself out there, defects and all. However, for me, overcoming my ‘turtle’ instinct to the extent that I can show my good stuff, let alone the bad stuff is the biggest leadership challenge I face.
I recently did an EQ test. I was surprised how high my EQ actually is. However, the overall score was bought down by my result for Empathy. This was the point where a lot of the feedback I have been getting over the past 9 months was bought home – quite profoundly actually. When I see on paper: “has a lot of acquaintances”, “few meaningful relationships”, “transactional approach” I question how people can open up to me if I cannot do the same?
I am reminded of something Bill George talks about in True North; leadership is a continual journey of self-discovery. This part of my journey concerns my ability to build genuine connections with people. I am at a cross roads right now. I am working through whether my current situation gives me the resources, support and confidence I need to do this and, if not, what are my other options.
Throughout my short little life so far, I’ve always treated stuff like this as a personal challenge. So, my refreshed Learning to Fly blog will be about my leadership journey. Essentially, this will be about my development – you can still read my opinions over on the #NZLEAD blog, but I will enrich this with books I am learning from, musings about leadership, personal reflections and lots of pictures of, well, just me being me.