This weekend I watched the Brene Brown’s Netflix special A Call to Courage TWICE! I found it inspirational and very much aligned with what I try and live as a leader. So many things from the special resonated with me!

“Be brave with your life. Choose courage over comfort”

“Have the courage to show up when you do not know the outcome.”

This for me sums up my decision to move to China and to start over as an international educator. I had no idea what I was getting into I just knew that I could not stay where I was. At the time many of my friends and family said I was brave but I did not think so. I thought I was taking control of my life, getting our of a bad situation and choosing to grow as a leader in a different context. Looking back I do see the courage it took to step outside of my comfort zone and to risk losing my family and my career.

“Brave leaders are NEVER silent about hard things.”.

Leaders need to have the courage to have hard conversations even if it means they do not come out unscathed. Courageous conversations are always difficult as a leader. You never want to hurt a person’s feelings or make them feel bad about themselves but if you are not willing to stand up for what you believe, push people out of their comfort zones or confront what is not right then you are not doing your job. Giving people praise, positive feedback and accolades is the easy part of the job. Setting the bar high and holding them accountable is the challenge.

Leaders need to show vulnerability with their followers if they want innovation, change, risk taking and growth. Cultures or organizations with leaders that have a zero tolerance for mistakes, demand perfectionism and reward employees that put on their suit or armor will not grow or succeed. Vulnerability is what allows people to have the courage to take risks and to propel the organization forward.

It has taken me a long time as a leader not to be hurt by the comments, behaviour or feedback from others because of the position of leadership not who I am as a person. In her special Brene makes a powerful statement “If you’re not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.” She talks about stepping over feedback from those who refuse to show their vulnerability and focusing on those individuals that are right there with you and call you on your shit and make sure you are staying true to your values and beliefs. I am getting better at this. If I want true and honest feedback I will ask a few very close friends who I know will give it to me and hold me accountable. These are my people, my tribe and the rest of what others say is just noise and I refuse to let if define me as a person or a leader.

How does all this connect to Drew Dudley and his book “This is Day One: A Practical Guide to Leadership that Matters?” I have been doing several of the exercises that Drew has in his book. I decided this weekend to tackle the following questions: “What three values does this individual (Meaning me) stand for above all others? What three values would you say play the biggest role in influencing their decisions and determining their behaviour?”

Drew provides a sample list of many values and then asks “Imagine if you had to explain your three identified values, simply and thoroughly. Write down the definitions you would create and start with a commitment too….

I started with the following values: Transparency, relationships, collaboration, vulnerability, trust, empowerment and growth. I left them for a bit and rolled them around in my head trying to narrow them down to three. Then I watched the Brene Brown special, ruminated on her words and identified my three.

A commitment to relationships based on honesty, trust, respect, transparency, kindness and love.

A commitment to growth by empowering, enhancing and improving my life and the lives of others.

A commitment to the vulnerability to embrace and model uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure in both my leadership and personal life.

These are the the three I am going to live with for now.

What would you choose and why?

Do the values you have chosen help you to speak your truth?

What would others say?