Salt and Light

salt-mounds“You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world.” – Matthew Ch. 5

Salt adds flavor, depth, dimension, perspective, enhancement, improvement, and preservation. No recipe has salt as its primary ingredient. It always acts in service of the other components, bringing them together into something otherwise unattainable. It is essential but not exclusive. It’s never just about the salt. When it is, it’s a mistake and the dish is ruined.

What does it mean for me to be “salt”?

Maybe it means that I have to let go of ego-driven, me-first, right/wrong dichotomies. Maybe it means I am to be of service rather than to be served. Maybe it means I choose to make contributions that complement the whole rather than standing out as an individual. Maybe it means humility, restraint, listening, noticing.

I’ve been having trouble being salt. Have you?

Light provides visibility, illumination, clarity, exposure, transparency, inclusion, honesty and awareness. Light is beautiful and inviting, welcoming us to a new day, showing the way in the dark. It is also revealing, sometimes exposing stark realities which must be acknowledged, if not dealt with, because they are now seen. Light can be manipulated to shade and shadow, giving us the chance to avoid the truth.

What does it mean for me to be “light”?

Maybe it means that I ask how I must change before asking others to change. Maybe it means that I shine an inviting light on others needs, shifting it away from my own. Maybe it means that I show someone the way, guiding them to a safer place. Maybe it means that I invite others into tough conversations and meet them there with empathy, restraint and a commitment to learn.

I’ve been having trouble being light. Have you?

Too much salt leaves us parched and too little leaves us longing for something more.

Too much light leaves us blinded and too little prevents us from finding our way.

There is a space between – there is always a space between. I am trying to find it. Will you meet me there?

DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world.

The Story of Now

“You do not need to know precisely what is happening or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and the challenges offered by the present moment and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.”

— Thomas Merton —

The Story of Now is the story of what we do with our learning and how we continue to develop it. It is the story of turning insight into action, of turning our internal awareness toward our external reality. In other words, it is the story of how we change.

My daughter attends a school that is primarily made up of Hispanic students. Yesterday they were concerned about the election. Today, many are scared that they will be forced to “return” to a country they have never visited. This is not unique to her school or our community. This is our new national reality and it doesn’t much feel like the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Today, I am thinking of our great country as a small child who has crawled into its mother’s lap seeking reassurance that bad things won’t happen. That mother, like all mothers do, lies to her child. She says, “everything will be ok” and “nothing bad is going to happen.” She delays the child’s experience of reality because she knows that the child needs reassurance right now, in this moment. Sixty million Americans crawled onto mom’s lap yesterday because they preferred to be seduced by the lie of simplistic reassurance rather than challenged to wrestle with the complexity of truth.

The truth is that the America of the 1950’s – homogenous and predictable – no longer exists. It hasn’t for some time. That change has been hard for lots and lots of people, in real ways that I have no intention of denigrating or belittling. Globalization is real. The world is smaller and more connected than ever before. Jobs have been lost. The definition of marriage has changed. The make-up of our citizenry has changed. Racism (and so many other “-isms”) remains pervasive. A black man was elected president…twice! And, sadly our government has proven itself to be an ineffective monolith of self-serving behavior. In the face of all of that, with the option of choosing either a deeply flawed woman who was prepared for the job or a detestable narcissist who is grotesquely unqualified, well…60 million people spit in the face of common decency, picked up their ball and walked home.

It’s an immature, shallow response to a new level of complexity. The greatest nation on earth just announced that it is not prepared for change. The “right” guy came along at the right time to fan the flames of uncertainty and send half of the electorate to act on the regressed belief that machismo, polarization and isolation are not only viable but preferable responses. This is stark evidence that when imagination is lacking human beings do the simplest thing they can think of, even when it’s horribly wrong.

We have to, perhaps now we will, reconcile ourselves to the depth of our country’s division. We need leaders who are equipped for that and we need them at all levels of public and private service. In part, that “equipment” is the ability to tell three distinctly and inextricably linked stories: one of personal understanding, one of deep connection, and one of continuous learning. That last one? That’s the Story of Now.

An honest and ongoing self-examination reveals us to ourselves and creates the opportunity to do something with and about what we discover. That experience creates openness to others and the ability to enter into and build relationships of powerful empathy and mutual reliance. With that foundation in place it becomes possible to wrestle – productively, positively, imaginatively – with the realities of complexity and change.

Know yourself. Commit to others. Learn together to create change. That’s the recipe mature adults – mature leaders – follow to navigate toward and meet the challenges of our shared existence. Yes, there are many days we long for mother’s lap and her false promises of security. But we don’t succumb to that temptation because we have earned the ability and made the commitment to stand on our own two feet, holding each other up when the going is difficult. We have earned the ability to see simplistic lies, false promises, fear mongering and hatred for exactly what they are.

The changing face of our country and the interconnectedness of our world will only continue, regardless of what happens these next few years. More acceptance is coming. More openness is coming. More structural dependency is coming. More integrated, holistic and systemic thinking is coming. And it will be created, sustained and led by people who understand how to speak the stories of understanding, connection and learning.

The Story of Now is happening…now. If ever there was a time to write your part, this is it.

DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world.

Productive Disruption

I’m rereading one of my favorite books right now: Gordon MacKenzie’s, Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace. As Mackenzie describes it:

Orbiting is responsible creativity: vigorously exploring and operating beyond the Hairball of the corporate mind set, beyond “accepted models, patterns, or standards” – all the while remaining connected to the spirit of the corporate mission.

 To find orbit around a corporate Hairball is to find a place of balance where you benefit from the physical, intellectual and philosophical resources of the organization without becoming entombed in the bureaucracy of the organization.

 Orbiting is nothing short of a manifesto for how to save our organizations from themselves by inspiring individuals to “counteract the pull of Corporate Gravity.” It is a call for the productive disruption of the status quo.

When I led the leadership development initiatives for TaylorMade Golf Company the centerpiece of our program was professional coaching. We established and trained a cadre of internal coaches to support the continuing development – the continuous learning – of the company’s leadership team.

Our focus was on offering highly personalized leadership development in the context of the system in which we were all operating but in such a way that we – coaches and clients alike – could learn to orbit the status quo of the TaylorMade hairball and productively challenge it from falling too much in love with it’s past successes.

We rationalized that through powerful coaching relationships our leaders would discover the ways in which they were stuck in the hairball and devise strategies for how to escape it. We wanted to help them confront the tendency to fit in when what the organization most needed was a leadership group also capable of effectively standing out.

The organization was winning in the marketplace. It had devised a formula that overwhelmed the industry and was able to replicate it through some impressive consistency and a better than average portion of good luck. And as the whispers in the hallways began to increase it was increasingly evident that fewer and fewer people believed it would last. The hairball grew bigger, making it more and more obvious – and less and less likely – that we needed to rally ourselves to some new thinking to counteract the inevitable decline of a once vaunted approach.

Coaching existed to help unlock all of that nascent thinking. But the organization – despite many outward expressions to the contrary – was neither ready nor willing to cultivate it into future capability. As a result, coaching became less about supporting leaders in getting out of the hairball and into productive orbit and more about helping leaders deal with the realities of the hairball as well as they could. It served a useful purpose but not the one it was designed to serve and certainly not the one necessary to ensure it’s future viability.

At a minimum this is a cautionary tale. Organizational leaders need to open their eyes to the limiting realities of the status quo and make sure that the efforts they make to counteract it are born out of an authentic commitment to change rather than the false pretense of feel-good initiatives.

At a maximum we need leaders who will wake up to the truth that the world is changing faster than ever and that desperate attempts to hang onto the past will only exacerbate the pain of the present. We need leaders who believe and proclaim, once and for all, that their very existence is predicated on their personal responsibility to preserve, protect and defend the productive disruption necessary for real and responsible change.

DAVID BERRY is the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world, especially the parts where he doesn’t handle it very well. If you enjoyed this post someone else might, too. Please pass it along.

First, Turn the Soil

Soil HealthEveryone wants to talk about harvesting. A few want to talk about planting. Even fewer want to talk about preparing the soil.

I came across an article yesterday called What Amazing Bosses Do Differently. Like so many books and articles out there right now it says all the right things. None of it is new. Here’s the last paragraph:

The common denominator is attentiveness. Pay close attention to your employees as individuals. Take that extra bit of time to build their confidence and articulate a vision; to provide constant, ongoing, high quality feedback; and to listen to their ideas. And ensure that your own messages are consistent.  Is it hard work? Yes. But it’s worth it.

Attentiveness? Check. Vision? Check. Feedback? Check. Consistency? Check.

Hard work? Check. Just not the right kind.

Do we really think another researched-based study that comes to the same conclusion as the last one is going to get our leaders to change their behaviors? That will only happen when organizations realize they don’t get to have it both ways.

Telling our leaders what they already know without getting them ready to apply it is a recipe for cynicism. It promises to deepen the resistance to change that is fed by corporate pronouncements about “employee engagement” that fail to come with any substantive cultural change to support them. Our leaders continue to default to fear-based, controlling behaviors for two reasons:

  1. It’s what their organizations are compensating them to do.
  2. It’s the easiest way to ensure performance in the short term.

The best way to appreciate the danger of the reality we’ve created – yes, we are all complicit – is to go back to the farm.

If you’ve worked on a farm of any size or even carefully tended a garden you know that planting and harvesting can be good, hard work. You also know that those activities are nothing compared to what it takes to properly prepare the soil. Turning just a few spades of dirt, especially in compacted and root-bound soil, is enough to remind you what physical labor really is. And it is our willingness to stick with it – to turn it, amend it and smooth it out – that makes the difference in the quality of what it will produce.

One of the first principles of planting crops of any kind – assuming you want to avoid chemically “enhancing” the soil – is that from one year to the next you rotate them into different sections of the field. (This applies to small garden planters as well.) Since different varieties absorb different nutrients from the soil this prevents any one crop from taking more than it’s share.

The corporate bias, in a thoroughly unimaginative response to the speed of complexity and change, is to simply take all it can while it can. This failure to tend their own soil makes them slaves to the present instead of caretakers of the future. In the same way that crop yields diminish in depleted soil so too do organizational results wither from the lack of attention to the first principles of long term growth.

 

Defining “Hard Work” 

What we need to talk about – what so few want to talk about – is the kind of “hard work” that our organizations and our leaders must engage in if we are to see real change. In my experience, a person who is both willing and able to do the “hard work” of practicing great leadership behaviors does so because first – first – they have tended their own soil.

Organizations must create the conditions where this is not only possible but also expected. To be a “leader” must come with clearly articulated, high expectations of self-knowledge that precedes behavioral training. Advancement to leadership positions must be contingent upon an individual’s ability to display a detailed understanding of their values, strengths, aspirations and limitations. They must be able to define themselves both at their best and at their worst, demonstrating an awareness of the conditions in which they thrive and those most likely to send them off the rails.

My bias would be to send a prospective leader to therapy or counseling for a year before he or she took the role. Since I live in the real world I will relinquish that fantasy in favor of developmental initiatives that allow for a deep understanding of each individual’s “soil composition” and just what is needed to amend it for them to grow – and support others growth – as well as they can. These programs already exist. We just need organizations to have the courage to put them into play.

We must also stop confusing positional competence with leadership capability. It’s a shortcut, knowingly taken far too often, that utterly fails to serve men and women who would otherwise thrive with the influence of a qualified leader. Organizations will further impoverish themselves if they continue to teach new skills to people who have not addressed their own compacted and root-bound soil.

The articles about “brilliant bosses” and the lists of “best leadership behaviors” are sure to keep coming. They will be dressed up differently but made of the same stuff. We need to do better than this.

We need to collectively reject the temptation to plant in poor soil, the bias for short term thinking that limits the quality and quantity of our yield.

We need to get our hands in the dirt, face up to the reality of what we find there and make it ready to support the growth for which those we lead are so hungrily waiting.

DAVID BERRY is the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world, especially the parts where he doesn’t handle it very well. If you enjoyed this post someone else might, too. Please pass it along.

When Memory Serves

Thanksgiving day, 1976, has a faithful hold on my memory. In what would turn out to be our last Thanksgiving in northern California for quite some time (we moved to southern California less than a year later) my family traveled east of San Francisco to spend the day with my aunt and uncle and our extended family.

The most conspicuous element of my remembrance of that day is the welcoming face of my Uncle John Davis. In my vivid recollection it is his generous and heartfelt kindness that 39 years later still feels like it was reserved just for me.

My Uncle John was as kind a man as I knew when I was young. I can’t tell you much about his career or how he liked to spend his free time but I remember the fervent awe I felt when I learned that he served as an engineer on the USS Enterprise in the Pacific Theater during World War II.

I admired him immensely through the remaining years I knew him. From my childhood into my teenage years and young adulthood I held a profound respect for Uncle John. Though surely there were other moments of influence it is the concentrating power of memory that makes it all seem to flow from the way he treated me in what was likely only a few moments of interaction during a family celebration nearly four decades ago.

I wish I could explain it better than this. I wish I understood how something so small could grow into something of so much significance, comfort and appreciation. I don’t understand it. I only know that it’s true. And that it is a memory I treasure now and will hold onto for years to come.

The impact of our actions ripples out from us beyond our ability to know.  It is only ours to trust that those ripples, once joined to the current of another’s experience, can become the waves that help to bring them to the shore.

(My daughter Davis, our youngest, was “supposed to be a boy.” My wife was convinced of it. When “she” showed up instead of “he” we decided to stick with the name we had chosen. My Uncle John is a big part of why that was an easy decision.)

DAVID BERRY is the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world, especially the parts where he doesn’t handle it very well. If you enjoyed this post someone else might, too. Please pass it along.

Picture Day

I’m guessing 3rd Grade…

My daughters had “picture day” last week. They looked great: hair carefully styled, faces clean, teeth brushed and looking good in their chosen outfits. I’ve been working from home for almost three years now so I’m usually around for these happenings.

My work is speaking and consulting to organizations on leadership and organizational culture. I work with a number of individual leaders in coaching relationships and I also do a fair amount of writing. Typically that writing consists of a semi-regular blog post but for much of this year it has been focused on something bigger. I made the decision to put the lion’s share of my professional effort this year on getting a book written for publication in 2016 (and I’m happy to report that the writing and editing are complete!). Doing this required that I do a few less speaking engagements and take a few less consulting and coaching assignments. It also means that I am home even more than usual.

By the time picture day rolled around my kids were used to seeing me in “writing mode” most of the time: comfortable clothes, maybe workout gear, a day or two of stubble on the face, a baseball cap.

On this particular morning, however, I was getting ready to visit a client. I followed the conventional ritual of shower and shave, put on my best professional attire and exited my room to head down for breakfast. I met my oldest daughter on the landing and without skipping a beat she said: “Is it picture day for you, too, dad?”

It was both a compliment and a dig, a great line delivered in a moment of surprise. My unexpected attention to grooming, at such an early hour no less, threw a wrinkle in the system that she caught right away and handed back to me with the graceful ease of her impeccable timing.

Her question got me thinking about the necessary transition from one kind of focus to another. For so many months now I’ve been of one mind, giving my energy to the work of completing the book. And as gratifying as it is to have come this far, I am fully awake to the reality that an even bigger question looms: So, now what?

That question carries with it the sizable implication that every effort we make will eventually yield to the responsibility of the next one. There is a season for all things, as the verses of Ecclesiastes assure us. As such, you don’t write a book forever. At some point that experience ends, giving way to a new question and a powerful opportunity: what to do with it?  It is time to emerge from the cave of creative effort and organization, the cave of comfy clothes and shave-less days, into the realm of activation and application.

I have done something and it is time to share it. It is picture day, once again.

DAVID BERRY is the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world, especially the parts where he doesn’t handle it very well. If you enjoyed this post someone else might, too. Please pass it along.

The Contract

I received this poem today and it strikes me as a fine way to close the week, to aid in our recovery this weekend, and to support us in our efforts to continue the work we are here to do.  Lead well.

The Contract

A word from the led

And in the end we follow them –
not because we are paid,
not because we might see some advantage,
not because of the things they have accomplished,
not even because of the dreams they dream
but simply because of who they are:
the man, the woman, the leader, the boss
standing up there when the wave hits the rock,
passing out faith and confidence like life jackets,
knowing the currents, holding the doubts,
imagining the delights and terrors of every landfall:
captain, pirate, and parent by turns,
the bearer of our countless hopes and expectations.
We give them our trust. We give them our effort.
What we ask in return is that they stay true.

– William Ayot

DAVID BERRY is the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world, especially the parts where he doesn’t handle it very well. If you enjoyed this post someone else might, too. Please pass it along.

How to Build Capability Before You Need It 

In Seth Godin’s blog today he writes:

“Often, organizations don’t realize that they’re falling down the abyss until extraordinary efforts are required to make a difference. But it’s always easier to fix it today than it will be tomorrow.”

Last year I wrote about this by sharing 10 recommendations for how to build capability before you need it. If ever there was “evergreen” subject matter, this is it.

Thanks for joining me on a trip into the archives!

Lead well.

Source: How to Build Capability Before You Need It | RULE13 Learning

Recovery

Jimmy Graham touchdown catch - September 27, 2015. Photo credit: Elaine Thompson/AP

Jimmy Graham touchdown catch – September 27, 2015. Photo credit: Elaine Thompson/AP

In September, as part of a leadership development experience that I was co-facilitating,  our group had the opportunity to learn from the leadership experience of an NFL coach. Dave Canales is the wide receivers coach for the Seattle Seahawks and a genuinely thoughtful and effective leader.

As our conversation with Dave progressed, and he shared thoughts on preparation, process, and the dynamics of working with some very big egos, a question came to mind that I have often mused on but have never had the chance to ask someone who was qualified to respond.

The question on my mind was this: What does the casual sports fan not appreciate about what it takes to excel as a professional athlete?

At the heart of this question is my deep curiosity about what separates those of us on the couch from those who are on the field. I struggle to imagine what it takes to perform at the level of an elite athlete, especially under the scrutiny they face. And so, given an opening in the conversation I asked Dave my question. He did not hesitate to respond.

“Recovery.

Both the immediacy and the content of his answer caught my attention. He went on to explain what was maddeningly obvious and so easy to overlook. Professional football players, for all of their skill, and for all of the ways they make it look easy or routine, get beat-up pretty good on a weekly basis. And they are expected to recover and do it again. And, again. Sixteen times over the seventeen weeks of the regular season. Implicit in his response was that the best ones – those who excel week in and week out – do so because of a radical commitment to the disciplines of recovery, restoration and preparation.

Since we were speaking in the context of a leadership program, the question immediately reformed in my mind this way: What does the “average” follower not appreciate about what it takes to excel as a leader?

Before I heard Dave’s response I would have immediately offered “self-awareness,” “care for people,” and “commitment to continuous learning” as my top responses. I would have only glanced at the truth that in order to seek awareness, extend care and continue to learn effective leaders have to be in great shape to do so! The exposure and expectations of leadership are tough. The weight of responsibility, day in and day out, can and will wear you down. If you don’t restore and recover well and if you don’t have a clear commitment to your well-being, you simply can’t excel. Sooner or later the wear and tear will make you susceptible to injury and your contribution will be reduced to that of a bystander.

There’s another game coming up and we need you on that field.

Will you be ready?

DAVID BERRY is the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world, especially the parts where he doesn’t handle it very well. If you enjoyed this post someone else might, too. Please pass it along.

 

To do better you’re going to have to try

“Self-knowledge is no guarantee of happiness but it is on the side of happiness and can supply the courage to fight for it.” – Simone de Beauvoir

One of the hardest things any of us will ever do is admit that we might be partly or even completely responsible for whatever is going on that frustrates the hell out of us.

My favorite coaching question of all-time is this: what would happen if you took complete responsibility – 100% of it – for what’s going on right now? Not once when I’ve asked this question has my client been willing to answer right away. Most often they try to avoid answering at all by changing the subject. Sometimes they just scoff at me insinuating, and sometimes flat-out saying, that I’m being ridiculous. I understand. I don’t want to answer it either.

For as long as I can remember I’ve struggled to authentically connect with people I’m meeting for the first time, especially in new group settings. I am not shy. It’s not that kind of discomfort. I do this thing where I protect myself from being known in an authentic way by putting up a facade of competence, especially if I perceive that I don’t quite measure up with the others in the room. It’s an old pattern of showing up with an air of sufficiency or qualification that I must have thought would make me seem special in the eyes of others. Of course, I would always find fault with “those people” for not “getting me” or connecting with me as I struggled to make sense of why I never felt like things clicked for me as easily as they did for others. I’ll give you two examples.

Years ago I attended training to become a facilitator for a collegiate leadership academy.  My brother-in-law lived in the town where the event was held, and we had dinner together the night before. I had too much to drink and was hung over the next morning. It was not an “incapacitated” hung over, but a “tired, cobwebby, please speak just a bit more quietly” hung over. At the beginning of the training we, of course, did introductions but the leader used an unconventional method for doing so. She presented us with a big box of hats and asked us to select and  wear one that represented something about us. Our introductions would be facilitated by sharing those stories.

I chose a jester’s cap and proceeded to explain that as the youngest of six kids I  developed an active and engaging sense of humor from a very early age. Now, please imagine this being explained to you by a guy who is nursing both a cup of coffee and a headache while sporting a jaunty “cap and bells.” In no way did my demeanor match my story. Words and pictures were glaringly misaligned.

It wasn’t altogether surprising, then, that during my feedback session at the end of the training the leader said that the person she had gotten to know barely matched the one she met on that first morning. We had, in fact, developed a great connection during the event and she expressed confusion at experiencing two distinctly different versions of the same guy. I was embarrassed by the feedback. I didn’t like being called out since I was sure I had done such a good job of faking it.

I wonder what would have happened if I had been straight with the group and simply said, “On most days this hat would be a great way to describe me but since I’m hung over right now you’re just going to have to take my word for it. Thanks for your patience as I ease into the day.” I’m pretty sure they would have  given me a wide berth of understanding born of personal experience. I couldn’t speak the truth for fear of being judged, of being seen as unworthy.

A few summers ago I attended a professional conference at a nearby university about the dynamics of human relationships. Instead of just talking about it theoretically for three days the conference design was both practical and experiential. We were sorted into  small groups and directed to simply observe what happened as we engaged with one another in these sessions. During our second meeting, one of the group members began to describe his past experience as the victim of bullying and how that had shaped his interactions with new people, especially men, in his adult life. The vulnerability of his expression was genuine and he proceeded to go around the group, person by person, describing how he felt in relationship with each of us. He was proceeding in these descriptions when he abruptly turned to me and said: “And you! I don’t even feel like I can talk to you. You are obviously a CEO or a Ph.D. or something and I don’t even know what I would say to somebody like that.”

I was stunned. And flattered. At the moment, I flushed with pride that someone would see me that way. That I had real gravitas. So much so that someone felt like they couldn’t even talk to me. At the time, I could only see it as an accomplishment.

That evening, on the drive home, reality set in. I had so successfully constructed the façade of uber-competence that I became precisely the person I do not want to be, a dis-invitation to connection and relationship. That I initially saw it as an accomplishment flooded me with shame.

What he didn’t know was that I was blindly playing the part I knew how to play. In that university environment, all of my insecurity had surged forward. He didn’t know that I was about to take on an adjunct faculty position there and that I wasn’t sure I was up for it. He didn’t know how inadequate I felt for my lack of a Ph.D. and that I could only reconcile that by acting like I had one. In his impressive vulnerability, he gave me exactly the recognition I wanted and, by doing so, shattered my facade.

I didn’t like it when I discovered this pattern. I’m sure I denied it for a long time because I knew there were going to be some significant implications if I decided to address it. It would mean I would have to stop seeing others as the problem. It would mean I would have to let go of being charming and smart and having it all together and begin to trust that I could just show up as me and that  would be ok. And it would be awhile before I would be anywhere near ready for that.

But it did happen. The veneer finally cracked, the facade was broken. And that’s as much about the sincere commitment of many thoughtful people to help me get honest with myself as it was about my decision to finally confront what I had constructed. I still have to work hard to stay out of the old pattern. I can rebuild that facade in no time. Some days the best I can do is close the gap just a little bit between the fiction I think I need to be and the person I most want to be. Before every new event or engagement, I give myself a healthy pep-talk, a reminder that people are more interested in what I am than in what I am not.

The simple truth is this: if you want it to change – if you want to do better –  you’re going to have to try.

DAVID BERRY is the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world, especially the parts where he doesn’t handle it very well. If you enjoyed this post someone else might, too. Please pass it along.