This is my last post of 2016. What a year. We close with big news: Heretics to Heroes has been named the best business book of 2016 by The Globe and Mail’s Harvey Schachter. “It’s a highly inspirational book,” Schachter writes. “Let’s celebrate courage for 2016, reminding ourselves how hard and important it is.”

Read Schachter’s entire piece and review the full top 10 list here.

You have all joined me on this journey, and I couldn’t be more grateful. My chat with Dave Kirby for his 1 Simple Thing podcast offers an excellent introduction to what the All-In Movement that we’ve launched is about––listen here.

Now, to this week’s post

Any leader worth her salt will ask herself the following question on a regular basis:

“What do I stand for?”

I’m not talking about your position and job description. People don’t offer allegiance to leaders because of a title. Followers are earned by individuals who stand for something worth following.

So ask yourself:

  • Who am I?
  • What do I stand for in this world?
  • To what am I committed?
  • What it is about me that makes me worth following?

You should ponder these questions regularly. If you haven’t explored your answers before, I encourage you to take downtime during the holidays to do so.

But why?

Your answers to these questions and others like them are what ultimately define who you are to the rest of the world, as well as the movement you lead.

If you’ve read my book Heretics to Heroes, you know that as a young engineer, I experienced tragedy. In its aftermath, my plant manager pushed me to consider questions like those I’ve mentioned. Later, I realized he did it because my lack of clarity regarding who I was and what I stood for made me vulnerable to influences that led me to act in a way that was not only out of character, but that contributed to a man’s death.

When I emerged on the other side of that painful, introspective, and personal journey, I had developed a stand and commitment that have informed my being and action throughout the 40 years since:

I stand for the health, safety, and wellbeing of the men and women who design, build, operate, and maintain our world. Anyone who knows me well knows that this is nonnegotiable for me.

I am committed to seeking bliss and avoiding suffering––or unnecessary pain––in all of my life’s endeavors. Those who know me well know I avoid people and things that rob me of my bliss, such as Republicans, Democrats, and watching the nightly news. I prefer to expose myself to experiences that I find blissful instead.

I am not suggesting that my tenets should be someone else’s. Yours are likely to be very different and may even include more than one stand and/or commitment.

I am also not suggesting that who I am and what I do are always consistent with my stand and commitment. Like everyone else, I fail from time to time. But these are exceptions I immediately regret, and they become reason to reexamine my life and make necessary adjustments.

What I am suggesting is that having clarity on what you stand for and your commitments is like having a psychological sanctuary that offers refuge in times of stress and uncertainty.

When I am faced with a quandary that tests who I am to be or what I am to do or say, I visit my sanctuary in my mind. My sanctuary is sacred: a shaman’s cave where I am reminded of my stand––I picture it chiseled into a stone cave wall––and where I am showered by my commitment, which I envision as rays of light shining down through a crack in the ceiling, filling me with the courage I need to live the way I’ve chosen to live.

They say this is the time of year for giving. I encourage you to give yourself the gift of clarity this season.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year.


Lead image graphic by Jeffrey Breckenridge