Finding Your Inner Leader by “Embracing the Shake”
How do we become leaders? How do we find the ability within ourselves to reach this goal of being considered good enough to lead? If we do know the answers to these questions, where can we find a place that will welcome us and put our leadership skills to use?So often we look to others who seemed to have figured it out, the path to recognizable leadership positions. We read books, have mentors and sponsors. We dress the part and we use our intellect, our education and our savvy to get there. We play the politics, use our poker faces and navigate the corporate waters because those are the rules of the game.I begin to wonder the point, however, when following the rules, playing the game and dressing the part doesn’t tap into the most powerful and influential leadership elements within us. When we are required to curb our opinions rooted in experience and expertise so we don’t cause a ripple in the waters. When we are silenced and put in our box.And then I see someone like Megan Washington muster the courage to step on the modest TED stage and show the world her speech impediment. Megan is a popular Australian singer and songwriter who recently revealed her secret: she has had a stutter since she was a child. It is not so much the stutter that makes her so intriguing to me. It is how she embraces her impediment as a woman whose profession and passion requires her to be on the world’s stage. Singing her words bypasses the stutter. When she is interviewed or has to introduce her band mates, she creates a melodic tone to her voice that tricks her brain to allow the words to flow, instead of stutter. Megan Washington didn’t reject her love for singing because of her speech impediment. She embraced the impediment because of her passion, her raw talent. The mark of a leader.Let’s look at Phil Hansen, an artist whose signature style was to create images by drawing a series of tiny dots, was stricken with an uncontrollable shake in his hand. He was no longer able to draw straight lines or simple dots. This life moment caused Phil to pause and, as a result, he left art school. After seeing a neurologist he learned he had permanent nerve damage. The doctor simply told him to embrace the shake. He followed that advice and the results are nothing short of phenomenal. Phil’s shake allowed him to change the way he thought about his art and draw a different path for himself. Similar to Megan Washington, Phil Hansen courageously modified his course. The mark of a leader.How many of us look at our barriers, our impediments, or our shakes and are able to perceive them as recommendations for change? How many of us are able to hear those recommendations as messages to choose different paths because our skills and talents are better served by singing through our stutters. Our talents will expand and illuminate if we can embrace the shake.There is no clean paved road to leadership. Leadership is not a medal of honor we earn. It is a characteristic we have within us. Find your talent. Recognize and nurture your unique skills to lead by learning How the World Sees You. When you face barriers and impediments, pause, reevaluate your existing path. Embrace the opportunity to shift your perspective. Sing through your stutter and embrace your shake.