“In organizations around the world, I have met people who are waiting for a leader to come and turn on the lights — to fix things for them, inspire them, make work more meaningful and fulfilling. Great leaders, teachers, mentors, or role models can point the way but they cannot transform your work for you. You are the leader you’ve been waiting for. In the end it is your own choices and actions that will improve your work life. You have the capacity to lead yourself to a work life of purpose and meaning. You do this by awakening the authentic leader inside you.”
I believe that generally, people are looking for good leaders to follow. Whether it be a boss, coach, or the leader of a nation, people want someone who can and will do what it takes to move things forward. It can really make your head spin when you realize that leader could be you! This book by Eric Klein provides a formula for authentic leadership, and then explains how to find YOUR authentic work.
“There is something deep within you that knows what you are here to do and the direction you must move in to find your authentic work. To follow this path is to be an authentic leader. It is your birthright. You were born with unique gifts and with a sense of excitement about contributing to the world. Although somewhere along the way you may have forgotten this, you can lead yourself back to a path that will bring more passion, purpose, and meaning to your work.”
In the book, you’ll find exercises to help identify your unique gifts and values – in other words, your calling. Eric believes in meditation as a means of learning how to shift your focus, separating yourself from the daily grind, and creating a sense of “graciousness.” While we are brought up to believe ambition is a good trait, Eric sees it as “the shadow side of calling” based on extrinisic motivation.
“Ambition is pursuing achievements because attaining them will be impressive. Ambition seeks to attract the attention and admiration of others. Ambition is the shadow side of calling. When pursuing ambition you are driven to look good on paper, to make it, to gain prestige or fame. These are substitute states of fulfillment that pale beside the bone-deep contentment that comes from following one’s calling. Following your calling does not always dictate a change in the role you perform, but it often requires that you transform the way you inhabit your role.”
When we focus on extrinsic motivation, like ambition, we live our lives pursuing fame, wealth, and power. And while we may think attaining these things will make us successful, we will never be as happy as if we followed our calling, our intrinsic motivations. Eric explains that by integrating our core values, true gifts, and calling, we create our own authentic leadership.
“Most people want authenticity, high performance, and high fulfillment. They want to create what matters most to them and experience joy and integrity in the process. But wanting is not the same as choosing. You can want to improve your work while still remaining passive. If you say, “I want more teamwork with other departments,” “I want this conflict to be resolved,” or “I want to be more creative at work” without acting then you have not moved across your learning edge from passive wanting to active choosing.”
In the end, by developing your authentic self you will accomplish more and be more fulfilled in your career. What’s great is that when you are more fulfilled, the people around you benefit, too, and start to look to you for advice, solutions, and guidance. THEN, you not only lead yourself, you lead others.
“The authentic response to being gifted is to give. You realize that you renew and enhance your gifts by giving what you have been given.”