Everybody be yo’self

Although I have personalized this, I have give credit to Dan Rockwell for this post. Dan’s leadership blog sets a high standard for me, but it is very much what I would like my blog to be. You can find a link to his original post at the end of this post.


Jim Parker, former CEO of Southwest Airlines, was once asked for his favorite advice. He said, “Be yourself.”

This may not seem like very exciting advice, but when a leader with experience leading during difficult times gives advice, you should pay attention.

There is great power in “Be yourself.” The song “I Am A Child of God” describes the core of my identity, both as an individual and as a leader. Everything else, I hope, builds on that.

Dan Rockwell, in his Leadership Freak Blog, discussed being yourself. I have added my own thoughts to his.

#1. “Be yourself,” is self-affirming nonsense unless you give yourself in service.

Sammy Davis Jr. made, “I’ve Gotta be Me,” a hit song in 1968.  If you embrace the message of this song, do it in service to others. And Frank Sinatra did it his way, which always seemed pretty selfish to me.

I think Keb’ Mo’s message is better than Sammy’s. See “Everybody Be Yourself” from Sesame Street, or the original album version (sorry, no video).

In the bridge, he sings;

Everybody’s got a will, everybody’s got a way.
Everybody got to listen to what everybody say.
Everybody got a nighttime, everybody got a day.
Everybody’s got to give a little love away.
Everybody’s got to stand up if you’re gonna be free.
Everybody got to know how to live in harmony.

A life lived in service to itself is a colossal waste; a life given in service to others is a life well-lived.

“I’m just being myself” is never a good excuse for poor behavior or failure to lead.

#2. “Be yourself,” stabilizes your leadership in turbulent times.

If you don’t know who you are, you end up tossed in the wind. You lose yourself to the expectations of others. Everyone’s advice seems good.

Being yourself is making forward-facing choices that align with your aspirations, affirm your values and leverage your strengths. And in difficult times, you don’t have to try to remember who you said you were.

#3. Don’t simply, “Be yourself.” Be your aspirational self.

Leadership demands personal growth. A leader who is not growing cannot lead effectively.

Aspiration adds dignity and direction to self-discovery.

Get a picture of who you aspire to become and live up to your aspiration.

Your aspirational story is important. Begin with formative aspects of your story.

  1. What stories do you frequently share about yourself? What do those stories say about you?
  2. How are you like your parents or relatives?
  3. How has adversity shaped you?

Use your story as a beginning, not an end. And don’t be afraid to share your story.

Tip: Include others in the process of self-discovery. What do others see in you? You never know yourself in isolation.

What does Jim Parker’s advice – Be Yourself – mean to you?

What prevents leaders from being themselves?


Read the original blog post here.

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Your Leadership Compass

I am of the opinion that the presidential election process goes on far too long. But that is not the topic of these posts.

As I listened to the discussions about the “debates,” it occurred to me that there are two questions I would like to ask each candidate. First: “Who are you?” “Do you have a sense of identity?” “What is it that makes you tick?” “Who is the real you?” And second, “Do you understand and intend to support and live by the bylaws of the organization (i.e. the Constitution of the United States of America)?” “How have you demonstrated that support up to this moment?”

Since these are two very distinct topics, I propose to address them separately. This will deal with first questions. The second, To Form a More Perfect Union?, will follow in the next few days.

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A good leader has a sense of identity. That identity is a rock-solid foundation for the leader’s thoughts and actions.

Skilled mariners, both in sea and in sky, learn to chart a course using map and compass and other important instruments. They learn to find true north to guide them in their journey, and they learn to rely on other landmarks as well.

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In a similar fashion, a leader should know how to find his way, even in the midst of storms and chaos. If a leader has no sense of his true direction, he will be unable to chart a course that will lead his organization to safety. Without that sense of direction, he will simply be at the mercy of the winds and currents, driven by external forces.

In a ship, this loss of direction usually leads to disaster. It is no different in an organization that has lost its way.

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If a leader wants to be able to guide his team through the storms that organizations and businesses will inevitably encounter, he must have a true north, an undeviating set of principles and values to direct him. When times are tough, the leader’s internal compass or GPS must be able to detect that true north consistently.

This holds true for all leaders, whether they are leading a small business, a large corporation, a volunteer organization, family, or a nation. It is impossible to stand firm if one does not know where he stands. True leadership must begin with a firm, reliable foundation.

So I would ask each of the presidential candidates to give me a straight answer. What are the undeviating principles that you have built your life on? Can you define them? Are you true to them? Will you continue to be true to them?

My guess is that few of them can give a direct answer to such questions. If that is the case, they are unfit to lead on any level. If one cannot provide a straight answer to questions about character, it would be unrealistic to expect straight leadership.

A good leader has a fixed, constant guiding star, and knows how to navigate by it.

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