Tag Archives: #identity

Management, Leadership and Personal Identity in the Marketplace

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
Brené Brown



Forgive me as I’m working on some material, thoughts and personnel development for my day job in the marketplace and these are the thoughts I’m coming to.  Let me know what you think, challenge or question.

  1. Management – this is the base expectation for employees in the marketplace.  This is largely how do things ‘get done’.  Job descriptions are written and measured based upon these base expectations.  Showing up on time and fulfilling these expectations is the bare minimum of what it means to have employment.  The deeper levels of higher quality management revolve around such things as competence, controls, efficiencies and profitability.  Management is pragmatic, it’s getting things done.  Great management is doing those things more intelligently and effectively with enduring results beyond the competition.
  2. Leadership – this is not about things, but about people.  Leadership is about the empowerment process of making others greater.  Leadership is not only worried about the questions of what, but more about the questions of how and who.  Leadership is a broader process of drawing others into the game and allowing them to contribute with a kind of harmony that joins many parts into a cohesive whole.  When leadership has the trust of many and the many act and perform with this kind of unified whole within their giftedness, the results are powerfully exponential.  Great leadership is not about personal titles or offices, great leadership is about the empowerment of others towards a common goal.  It is not a science, it’s an interpersonal artform.
  3. Personal Identity – here’s the dirty little secret they didn’t teach you about in school or your college textbooks; your leadership and management skills are largely determined by how much you are aware of your personal identity that is rooted in your story.  Your story forms your core and it influences everything you do, how you act, how you are motivated and how you motivate, how you react and how you respond.  The painful parts of your story create vulnerabilities that when they are touched on, like a raw nerve, will cause you to over-react or lash out in fear.  The more grounded and mature chapters of your story allow you to anchor down in raging storms of marketplace life and act with power while others are tossed and turned by the circumstances of the day.  Out of your core you know who you are and why you are here.  Your core is formed out of your story, you can’t escape it.  We all participate in a lived story.

Our lives have to be bigger than our job descriptions.  We are more than what we manage or get done.  We are more than how others respond to our leadership.  If we get our personal worth out of efficiency numbers or what others think of us, we will live and lead largely out of a great deal of insecurity.  However, if we dive deep into our personal identity and interact with the vulnerabilities of our story, we will find the power to know who we really are that never changes regardless of the circumstances.  That’s the story I want to live and lead others into that same journey for their own discovery, freedom and empowerment.  The power that comes from knowing who we really are is not acquired like a commodity, it is learned and honed with deep introspection.  This kind of power is not contrived, it is exponential.

‘I’ll know my name as it’s called again’

 ‘So come out of your cave walking on your hands And see the world hanging upside down You can understand dependence When you know the maker’s land

So make your siren’s call And sing all you want I will not hear what you have to say

‘Cause I need freedom now And I need to know how To live my life as it’s meant to be

And I will hold on hope And I won’t let you choke On the noose around your neck

And I’ll find strength in pain And I will change my ways
I’ll know my name as it’s called again‘ – Mumford and Sons, The Cave

Was sitting on the patio last night getting all contemplative with one of the last of the great Renaissance men in Paul McGillivary and this song came on.  That last lyric just always gets me, ‘I’ll know my name as it’s called again’.  Isn’t this what we are all looking for?  Who are we?  Why are we here?  Who do we belong to?  What is my purpose?

Friends, if you’re reading this, I hope you have learned by this stage in life that getting a paycheck is not a big enough idea to sustain you.  That’s just being a cog in the wheel of a system called Consumerism that isn’t meant to fulfill you, it’s meant to enslave you is not an end for your true self.  The mythology of the American Dream creates a destitution of the heart that leads you away from your primary self.  We are all waking to the reality as William Wallace puts it, that ‘every man dies, but not every man truly lives.’

To truly live is to know your name as it’s called again.  Know who you are, why you are, what you have to offer, where you belong and what fights to pick.  If you aren’t there, I’ll hold out hope with you that your resurrection is coming.  That you can walk out of the cave of your own heart and know your life as it’s meant to be.

Just as water is meant to run downhill, so you were destined to count. -Dallas Willard

Acceptance of self

Finally I am coming to the conclusion that my highest ambition is to be what I already am. That I will never fulfill my obligation to surpass myself unless I first accept myself, and if I accept myself fully in the right way, I will already have surpassed myself.
Thomas Merton

road trip to Venatana Mountains and Tessajara Zen Center

It’s important to me that I live and seek for an examined life, one that has an anchoring within the contemplative.  For as long as I can remember about myself, I have been injected with the virus of being a leader, it’s a sickness that I carry around.  In the western world, leaders are measured externally for what they can produce, what they can ‘make happen’, their level of being dynamic and entertaining to others and their ability to achieve results for the organization.  All of that is a normal part of work and vocational life this side of the meridian.  But if leaders aren’t careful, they may believe the lie that the only qualities that are valuable about themselves are the things that can be measured as results and production.  If that is your core belief about yourself, then you are only one good and strong wave away from having the sand beneath your feet dissolved, it is not firm enough ground to build your foundation on.

Self confidence is a tricky thing.  My core identity and spirituality is as a follower of Jesus. His guiding principles involve both an ongoing commitment to deny oneself and simultaneously to radically redefine yourself as one loved by God.  Christians throughout history have created systems of religion meant to be about self-denial but ended up resulting rather in tyrannies of legalism that offer none of the freedom and joy God designed his world for us to play in and find peace in.  I’m also seeing that the ways in which I bought into the lies that I have value not because of who I am as one loved by God, but only as one who can be a productive leader and as one who goes all out in sacrificing for others/the organization.  Legalism doesn’t work, nor does a kind of self-sacrifice that leaves me used up on the scrap heap.

So even at 40 I’m seeking after a proper and healthy view of myself where i understand my value in the grander scheme of things and can anchor down in a core identity that doesn’t change, regardless of the chaos around me.  I believe the answers to this search are not found ‘without’, in the circumstances around me.  But rather I believe that they are accessible ‘within’, that a healthy acceptance of self is within my grasp and control right now, even at 4:30 a.m.

So I write these thoughts not just for myself, but I suspect that I’m not alone in this leadership and identity quandary.  So for today, I bless you to go and find that place within, that voice within that says you have value, you are loved, you are worth protecting.  As Brennan Manning would say, “radically redefine yourself as one loved by God.”  You are not what you do, that starts with a healthier acceptance of who you really are.