I finally finished moving out of my parents’ place.
Granted, I haven’t actually lived with them for almost twenty years…but some of my boxes from high school and college were still there. When Luke and I visited during 4th of July weekend, we finally went through the last few items.
It was hard not to stop and glance at things there were important in my life at one time and hadn’t seen for almost twenty years. I found some old letters from friends and one in particular caught my attention. It started out:
“We all have three persons to contend with in our lives: The person that we were, the person that we are, and the person that we wish to become.”
I’m not sure if this was my friend’s own wisdom or borrowed from somewhere else, but it got me thinking about the importance of contending with these three people before trying to change others.
The Person That We Were
When I look back on some of the mistakes I made early in my career, they seem ridiculously obvious now. Likely five years from now, some of the mistakes I’m making today will seem obvious too.
I’ve made more progress over the years forgiving myself for my past mistakes than feeling guilt for them. What’s a mistake you made in the past that you can forgive yourself for today?
The Person That We Are
I took an assessment years ago that said I was an extrovert and I believed it for a long time. It took about a decade, but once I got clarity that it was wrong, I started making some different choices in how I design my work environment to tap into my best strengths. Today, I’ve built more of my work around deeper, personal relationships than around large numbers of daily interactions.
I’ve come to realize that getting to know ourselves well is some of the best work we can do in order to influence others. If you haven’t spent much time on this, getting clarity on your values is one way to get started. Here’s a link to an exercise that will help. What have you learned about yourself recently?
The Person That We Wish To Become
Many (if not most) of us can easily fall into the pattern of simply following where life takes us. It’s easy to have a goal for the next rung on the career ladder, or degree, or larger house, etc. Those things are nice, but can be meaningless without a larger vision.
The first step in leadership is leading ourselves to where we want to go. That means having a clear vision of what the future looks like.
During his incarceration in the concentration camps of World War II, Viktor Frankl famously discovered that of the people who had the opportunity to survive in the camps (many didn’t have that opportunity, of course) the ones that did were much more likely to have a clear vision of something yet left undone in their lives. What is still left undone in your life and work?
If you are willing to have courageous dialogue with these three people, your ability to influence the world may grow in proportion.
Leave a comment below with your answer to one of the questions above.