Your Heroic Journey: Become Your Best SelfMay 26, 2021
How do you become your best self? Where are you in your heroic journey?
I posed this question in my last post, Be Your Own Hero. Let me ask: if you consider your work, life, self -- your overall life path, where did you demonstrate wisdom? What about missteps?
Over the past year, we’ve seen incredible acts of vulnerability and genuine concern (aka, authenticity). While we may never become heroes and sacrifice like so many others did, we can become more genuine and capable of heroic deeds. We can embark on our own heroic journey to our best self.
The Journey to Self
I like the approach outlined in the recent publication by Doug Conant and Amy Federman, The Blueprint: 6 Practical Steps to Lift Your Leadership to New Heights (Wiley, 2020). In case you don’t recognize the name, Doug Conant turned around the once struggling Campbell Soup Company and went on to successfully lead Nabisco Foods. What is really remarkable is how he overcame being fired without warning, and considers this to be “the best thing that ever happened to him.” Why? It allowed him the time for self-reflection and discovery.
I had a similar experience. I was not "fired" per se, but I was told, without warning, that I did not fit the organization and that I was "terminated". When I look back, there were many warnings that chipped away at my self-regard and self-actualization.
- In my first week of employment, I was "written-up" for leaving a stapler on my desk. YES, a stapler! Corporate spies had their orders to seek and report all kinds of infractions with no mercy.
- During my performance review, I was chastised for being "too diplomatic". In retrospect, perhaps this final personal attack was their "sucker punch" in their attempts to shred every fiber of my self-confidence. I remained composed (albeit in shock) and decided to "box clever".
After I was escorted from the boardroom after being terminated, I thanked my director - genuinely. A toxic weight had been lifted as I was released to reflect on who I wanted to be and who I wanted to serve in my work. To this day, three decades later, like Doug Conant, I consider this termination to be the best thing that ever happened to me in my career and my self-development. This experience launched me into becoming and valuing my best self as an entrepreneur.
I learned that the journey to best self is an intentional process. Discovering who you are and where you are at this and any particular point in life requires an honest assessment. Self-actualization is the ability to realize your potential capacities and that requires an assessment.
To get started, Conant suggests three steps:
- Write your entire life story.
Write by hand, rather than type.
If needed, start with a chronological outline, and then add in the minutiae: all the intricate details you can recall.
Provide context. For example, what is your birth order, where were you born, what major events—near or far—were taking place, etc. When I add context to my story, I can "see" exactly how my sense of self came into being. This step provides validation.
Identify your points of light. These are the people who influenced in your life.
What were/are their standards for you?
How did they demonstrate care and affection for you?
How do you practise or model this for others?
- Reflect and connect
Explore your life story. Consider who and where you are at this moment.
Then, ask yourself: "Am I living my story or a story someone else expects?"
Inhabit your story heroically. Be a part of the story and not just a footnote.
Writing out your life story allows you to reflect and lay the groundwork for your next steps: intentionally envision, plan, and practise your heroic journey. I’ll dive in to that in my next post, but in the meantime,
What do you think? Where are you in your heroic journey? I’d love to hear from you.
- Learn more about emotional intelligence, Self-Regard, Self-Awareness and Self-Actualization by subscribing for updates and downloading the EQ Worksheet.
- Check out the THRIVE in Work and LifeTM programs.
- Check out the online mini-course Your Building Blocks to Emotional Well-Being and Resilience.
- Learn more about the practice of Entourage of ExcellenceTM – How to Build Your Leadership Entourage, ConantLeadership
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