You live with yourself every second of every day, and yet, truly knowing oneself seems to always be just a bit out of our reach. You can visit ancient temples in Egypt and Greece inciting you to “know thyself”, which will confirm that thousands of years ago the human race seemed to be quite in the same predicament. The bard himself told us “to thine own self be true”. Why then do we keep not complying?
Introspection, the examination of our own thoughts and feelings, has in many instances translated into the fictional expression of unexpressed thoughts and the breaking of the fourth wall in entertainment. That’s precisely what lies behind the success of classics like Annie Hall and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, or more recent hits like The Office and Fleabag. Taking a peek behind a character’s reasons for acting a certain way, or behind their fake reactions to everyday situations gives the viewer a distinct pleasure. Because we absolutely know that as we go about our day we constantly conceal from the world what we are truly feeling and honestly thinking.
Confronting one’s true self is not always pretty, but it can become painless and, dare I say, enjoyable if enough time is spent working on it. The key, I find, is to always speak kindly to yourself, even when you know you could have done better.
One of the perks is that, the more you learn about yourself, the better a leader you become. Knowing yourself means you understand what your values truly are, and with that compass as a guide you can finally figure out what matters to you, what you want to achieve, and what you are willing to sacrifice along the way.
Once you accept that self-discovery is a never ending process, you can be a better leader in your own life, and it won’t matter if your journey positions you to be disruptive or transformative or visionary or whatever other kind of leader textbooks have told you to be – because at the end of the day, leadership is a state of mind, and it cannot be defined by people that still try to put ideas in boxes.
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