Follow You, Follow Me

mutiple shot of same person running in sand

A simple idea — that managed to escape me as I jogged along a paved trail at the beach not far from my house these last many months — suddenly appeared: to run ON the beach…

I know many of you are saying to yourselves, why isn’t he running on the beach?  As I rounded the corner from the beachside road and entered the trail, ahead of me an older runner (to clarify: much older than me) was running on the sand next to the trail, on a beach access lane used by city vehicles, lifeguards and other beach vendors.  I stepped through a pass in the wall and began to follow him along the sand. As I caught up to him and passed him, I said good morning and thanked him for leading me to a better way to enjoy this beautiful place. He had improved my run in so many ways. He chuckled, said good morning, and then he was gone.

And then it occurred to me, did he lead me?  What I’m describing here is the perspective of leading from within.  While he was a fine example of what could be, it was I who made the decision to step into something different.  Something that’s been there for some time and not necessarily evident until that moment. Committing to something different, making it happen and bringing meaning to it.  Boom! 

Sometimes we don’t even recognize the leader inside of us, and that our thoughts, intentions and actions can create new paths for ourselves and others.  When I ask clients and prospective clients if they’re a leader, except for those who have direct reports, the answer is almost certainly “no.” And my follow up is usually some form of “Well, who leads you when you’re alone?”.  Pins can be heard dropping from faraway – they connect the dots: “Me.”

The Co-Active Training Institute has an incredible leadership model with the centerpiece being the perspective of the Leader Within.  (Read about their 3 day Co-Active Leadership Experience here) Here are the traits of your Leader Within:

  • Live with integrity and nourish self-acceptance and self-authority.
  • Take full responsibility for personal impact within a relationship, project, and organization.
  • Disregard self-limiting beliefs.
  • Understand and honor personal values and purpose.
  • Create “meaning” from all experiences — from the workplace to personal life.
  • Clarify what matters most, and commit to making it happen.

When we experience a shift from where we stand today, from where we were even just moments ago, we show up differently.  People notice it too. Examine these six traits and imagine what it’s like to step into them. Embracing each of these in even the slightest positive, intentional way must move you to a new place.  Look for that person that’s chosen a different path from the one you are on. Follow them. Then lead them. That person is actually you.

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