Guest post by Patrick Sweeney author of What You Aren’t Seeing .
As I began to write What You Aren’t Seeing, an inspiring story about how a young boy growing up in Brooklyn in the 1930s lost his sight but found a way to see the potential in himself and others, I came to realize that at the heart of this story is the need for all of us to understand and shape our own stories.
Herb Greenberg went on to become a psychologist and an entrepreneur, developing an assessment that can uncover an individuals inherent strengths. The company he founded, Caliper, has assessed the potential of more than four million applicants and employees for companies around the world. His leadership story, which centers on how he overcame many daunting challenges, can open your heart and mind to new possibilities.
Throughout his life, he heard the harsh sounds of unmistakably negative messages, alongside the encouraging guidance of positive messages. He faced prejudice because of certain peoples preconceived notions about how his blindness could limit him. But he also had mentors, including Pee Wee Reese, the shortstop for the Brooklyn Dodgers, his parents, and teachers, who believed in him.
Fortunately, he paid more attention to the positive messages.
Central to Herb’s leadership journey is a story of an individual who, because he paid more attention to the positive messages, was never willing to accept the stigma or the limitations of being blind. His unwavering, determined, positive attitude in the face of challenges, disappointments and failures is what we marvel at and find truly inspiring.
Beyond inspiring you, though, hopefully Herbs story will also help you see the significance of understanding your leadership story.
Getting at the heart of your story takes deep reflection, coupled with the ability to tell your story in a way that connects your heart with the hearts of others. You need to ask yourself some very tough questions, including: What experiences transformed you? What did you learn about yourself by facing a particular challenge? How did you handle your doubts and fears? How have your transformative experiences shaped a consistent pattern in your life? How did those experiences enable you to understand the deeper purpose of your leadership journey?
These are some of the questions you need to answer convincingly.
Realize that your leadership story is what illuminates you, making you known, understood and worth following. Your story expresses who you are, where you are from, and where you are going. What do you stand for? What will you not stand for?
To the extent that your lifes stories reflect your values, others will lean in and want to know more. The fundamental reason others will follow you is because they believe in you they believe in your story.
We want to hear your stories resulting from key events from your past, fused with a clear perspective of the present, and an inspiring view of the future. That is what will shape your leadership identity.
Ultimately, your story defines you as a leader.
Patrick Sweeney is a New York Times bestselling author and a speaker who has engaged audiences around the world on how to recognize and develop their true potential. You can reach him at Patrick@ThePatrickSweeneyGroup.com