(reprint from my weekly newsletter, Authentic Success)
Success today requires the agility and drive to constantly rethink, reinvigorate, react and reinvent.” –Bill Gates
2020 is the year for individuals and organizations to become more flexible, agile and adaptive. These same qualities are the #1 priority CEOs look for when evaluating new team members, according to the 2018 IBM Institute for Business Value Global Survey.
It’s been a tumultuous year. The health and economic impact of the virus, coupled with the spotlight on brutality and law enforcement has turned our world upside-down. At the same time, the pandemic lockdown created a pause button that we may not have wanted but in the end, sorely needed. We’ve had a chance to reflect on what matters most in the busy stream of our daily lives.
In this era of disruption and unknowns, we could use a new kind of leadership. Whether it is how we lead others or how we lead ourselves, we need to lead the way forward from a stable core. Authenticity is the courageous choice to trust and live by your core values while being humbly aware of your weaknesses. With awareness of your flaws, you can outsmart them and the potential setbacks they can cause. With a focus on expressing your core values in your choices and behaviors, you have a roadmap forward that is truest for you. With authenticity as your stability, you are free to respond to changing conditions in a more flexible, agile and adaptable way.
Authenticity is like being a Google Doodle. Have you ever seen these inspiring and sometimes surprising changes made to the Google logo to celebrate holidays, anniversaries and the lives of famous artists, pioneers and scientists? Google has over 3.5 billion searches a day. Google knows its value. Although there have been almost 4000 Google Doodles created for Google homepages worldwide, the core truth of Google remains. It is an incredibly powerful search engine. That fact doesn’t change, no matter how many Google Doodles or logo variations there are. Google can maintain a stable identity while being responsive to the needs of its customers and followers.
Most people say they want authenticity but tend to seek out cookie-cutter solutions to business problems and individual issues. If you are going to be genuinely present with the challenges of this moment, of this day and of current conditions, then you must forget a blueprint. There are none. Being adaptive means being ready to move as quickly and as eloquently as you can. As legendary UCLA Bruins coach John Wooden said, “Be quick, but don’t hurry.”
There are examples of agility and adaptability all around you. Business services are moving online. People are turning to social media for networking. Restaurants are shifting to take out. Uber is delivering more pizza than people with Uber Eats. Companies are strategizing what it will take to get customers out of their homes to engage once again. As a society, we are rethinking how we treat each other. We are realizing we must balance intellectual understanding with the heightened emotions of volatile issues.
You can bend as needed without giving up your authenticity. The more flexible you are, the more strength you have. If Google can Doodle without losing its core identity and values, then so can you. Authenticity is knowing who you are and how you add value to others, which allows you to see who others are and how they add value to you. Authenticity is more than being real; it’s also about relating in a way that’s relevant and purposeful.
Embrace.2020 as the year to rethink, reinvigorate, react and reinvent everything. Own your success by being authentic enough to be flexible, adaptable and agile with whatever lands on your desk or your doorstep.
Enhance your effectiveness and engagement while helping others do the same. Reset your authenticity in the following ways:
- Practice saying, “tell me more,” when you feel defensive in a conversation. Defensiveness is a sign of fragility. You are not fragile. You can handle whatever it is that you think you can’t.
- When others speak, ask them to define what they mean. People often parrot what they have heard without explicit knowledge of the issues. Create awareness, clarity and understanding for you and them. All three must be present for effective communication.
- Expect and accept mistakes on all sides as part of the learning and maturing process of life and career. Mistakes are a mis-take on what you wanted. Think of yourself as the director of a movie. If Take 1 of a scene didn’t work out, then be willing to shoot Take 2, 3 and 4 to get it right.
- Commit to action even when you are unsure of the outcome. If we’ve learned anything from these unbridled times, it’s that there is no certainty. So why wait to act?
Thanks for reading. Until next week,
Jo-Aynne von Born, Certified Professional Coach
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