I recently rewatched Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talk on “The danger of a single story”, and found it to still ring true and relevant. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.
Here is a brief summary of Adichie's talk: We tell one story of a person or people repeatedly until “that is what they become”. The issue with this is that we “rob people of their dignity” and ignore the several other facets of this person or group of people so that it becomes impossible to think of them as anything else. It’s a clear expression of power used to “dispossess and malign” rather than to “empower and humanize”.
It occurred to me that there are four specific roles we play in a single story - storyteller, lead character, bystander and audience.
At any point, we may occupy one of these roles, whether in a story about ourselves or in a story about others. Each of these roles come with responsibilities that I highlight below. I use a single story about a person to illustrate this, however, these roles and responsibilities also apply to single stories about groups of people.
Regardless of the role we are in, we have a responsibility to act consciously as it relates to the dignity of ourselves and others! Start by reflecting on what role(s) you play in single stories, what actions (or inactions) you take, and what the impact of those actions are. In your reflection, observe without judgement, then act consciously towards your goal. I'll be rooting for you as I embark on the same journey!
A few weeks ago, I had lunch with Ryan, a VP of Design in Tech, and we chatted about leadership over a nice bowl of pho soup. Ryan asked for my thoughts on modulating between coaching and other leadership tools. Here is what we discussed:
The basic toolkit of leadership includes coaching, mentoring, giving/receiving feedback, setting a vision, holding accountability with self/others.
Coaching, as a core tool of leadership is a reflective inquiry method that allows others to unfold in their own creativity. It can be a very powerful tool when used by leaders in developing and growing other leaders. However, it is not always the right tool to use.
How do you know when to use coaching versus a different tool?
Here are a couple tips on when to modulate your coaching as a leader:
Happy New Year!
For many, the new year represents a marker or milestone that brings about self-reflection. We often lead such busy lives, that it is important to pause, breathe and reflect on who we have become and who we are becoming. Here is a tip: You don't have to wait for an annual marker like the new year or a birthday to do this. In fact, you stand a better chance of reaching your goals if you check-in with yourself more regularly - quarterly, monthly, weekly or even daily!
Whatever interval you pick, here are some questions you may use to kickstart your self-reflection:
Confidence and Awareness are two ingredients I’ve identified as necessary to any personal transformation journey. More on awareness later ...
A tip on confidence I’ve learned from my coaching clients is to displace that self limiting belief, whatever it is for you, filled with doubt and judgment, with this empowering one
I am capable and I am enough
A few months ago, I had to employ this tip when I took on an expanded role at work. I found myself in a fog, I had to quickly learn new functional areas, build a team of leaders, while balancing critical strategic initiatives. I recalled this statement from my clients which helped me replace doubt with assurance. Assurance that I was capable and enough allowed me to act!
Confidence doesn’t mean knowing. It means trusting that everything will work out as it should so give life a chance and take action now.
You know the saying, breakfast is the most important meal of the day? Well, it's not just about meals but how you start your day really does define your day. This goes back to perspectives. You setup the theme of your day with whatever you start it with and that shapes how the rest of your day flows.
For a long time, I started my day by grabbing my phone - to catch up on emails. Let's face it, I still do this on some days. But you know what? It really doesn't matter whether that 10pm email gets answered at 6am. However, what has been rather rewarding, is starting my day with gratitude. For me, it is mostly gratitude to my Creator for what I have been granted to experience.
What does gratitude look like for you? Whatever you are grateful for, I urge you to start your day with gratitude. Just 3 minutes once you get up - dedicated to just you, your experiences and your expression of gratitude. This may take the form of a prayer, a yoga sun salutation or an unexpected appreciation to a friend. Try this out for a week and experience the difference it makes!
Spoiler alert: What you put your energy in is what comes to you. You'll see more gratitude flowing your way!
This blog represents my experiences and convictions as at when I wrote them. As I grow, my perspectives may expand. Take and share only what resonates with you, and leave the rest. Happy reading!