I’ve owned many motorcycles. My first one was purchased in the Sixth grade with the funds earned from getting up early every morning and delivering newspapers. My favorite, however, was a 1998 Honda Valkyrie. What I liked best about this bike was that it didn’t try to look like any other motorcycle (especially a Harley Davidson). Honda, unapologetically, took their biggest engine, chromed it out, and slapped it in a cruiser frame. It was big, fast and beautiful. It was an original.
I’ve always viewed myself as an original. Not because I go out of my way to do so but because, like Honda, I am unapologetically me. Do I make mistakes? Yes! Do I worry about what other people might think? Yes, I’m human (we all do). Do I try to manage the perceptions others might have of me? Heck yes! With all of these (and more) being true, one might wonder how I can be original; worrying about so many things and so many people? Like, Honda. I don’t try to mimic an original. I won’t change who I am for anyone and, as leader, neither should you. The approach or jargon may change to fit the situation and/or person, but authenticity counts. You are an original!
After 27 years of leading people, there is one thing I know for certain: If I lead from the core of who I am, that authentic voice resonates with those around me and makes me an original. No one else can lead from my heart.
In this politically correct world, it can be easy to lose the sight of who you are. The worry about what others might think or what you “should” be doing (as assumed by another’s success) can encumber you in the harness of compromise. How do I do this?
Through the practice of three things that help me find my authentic, original center to lead from. I….
Know what you value, where you stand, and why! The “why” gives the depth to your convictions. Don’t just believe or value something because it is what another thinks. This provides me with the center with which I need to lead, make decisions, and build relationships.
Knowing is one thing, letting others know is something completely different. I’ve had times where I was afraid to speak up about where I stood on issues. When I was quiet, I was miserable. I felt as if I had left a piece of myself on the table. When I did the opposite, I was not only happier but I also gained the respect of the people around me. There will be times that circumstances dictate that you stifle your voice but, normally, that’s just fear muzzling your heart. Break free of fear’s grasp and don’t be muzzled.
If your actions are not congruent with what you think you value and what you speak to others then you don’t really believe it. Further, it will be transparent to everyone around you. Your team will do as you do and not as you say. Walk your talk.
As I stated before, I make mistakes in dealing with people as a leader(a lot of them). I will apologize for a misspoken word or action but I will not apologize for being me. No one is more aware of Chip Lutz’s faults than Chip Lutz. Those faults I want to work on, I do. The others that I don’t, I’ve come to terms with and accept. Knowing where you stand (and why) and leading from that center makes me an original (and makes you one too). Be like Honda…be unapologetically you, an original. (Well, unless you’re an ass, then be a nicer version of you.)