A while ago I was very fortunate to walk the Camino Frances (or the Way of St. James). An old pilgrimage route from St.Jean Pierre de Port in France, across the Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostella in Western Spain. Some 800kms.
A highlight for me was my pre-dawn walk to Cruz de Ferro, outside Astorga in Spain. This is a special place for those walking the Camino. The tradition goes that you carry a small pebble from your home on your walk. On that pebble are written some words. When you get to Cruz de Ferro you leave the stone at the foot of the cross. Alongside many thousands of other treasured stones left by previous pilgrims.
The words on the stone reflect challenges, thoughts, problems that you wish to let go of and move on from. They also represent hopes, wishes, and wants for the rest of your journey and life. Many therapists use similar techniques in their own practices today. The words on my pebble and the placing of it was hugely poignant as the sun rose at the cross. There was something powerful in reflecting, thinking, and recognising those areas we need and want to change, emotionally and mentally.
As I carried on with my walk, this time at Cruz de Ferro got me thinking about us as leaders. What personal leadership challenges, fears, problems and experiences do we hold onto. What thoughts and inner dialogue do we have that hold us back from being the leaders we want to be? How does holding onto these things impact on our leadership thoughts and behaviours, which manifest in our words and actions? Which then impacts others. How much stress do we cause ourselves? I would suggest if we are honest with ourselves, we all have things to some degree. But we don’t know how to understand them, how to be different or how to let go of them, or replace them with different thinking and actions.
What is the cost to us, our teams, and organisations if we don’t attend to, let go of or, at least explore them more fully and make more informed choices. What time do we give ourselves to think and process our leadership hopes, wishes, and wants in how we lead. How often do we create space, and conversations and invest in ourselves to allow ourselves to dare to dream and take planning steps to change our realities? I would suggest not very much. How do we measure the impact on us if we don’t reach that leadership potential we desire? Where does it leave our fulfillment levels?
Being on my walk enabled me to have very open honest conversations with complete strangers, young and old, who I would never see again in my life. In those often raw conversations, openness, clarity, and increased awareness abounded. There was complete freedom to talk and not be judged. Knowing what was shared with them, and they with me, would go with us, never to be repeated or shared.
So it is with coaching. That created space and time to examine areas holding us back, explore potential opportunities, and process thoughts and experiences that enter our leadership spheres. Discuss those thoughts and feelings that influence our leadership behaviours and decisions. Conversations in a non-judgmental, supportive and developmental environment, working with a coach whose focus is upon your leadership and personal growth transforms leadership performance.
So what are you doing to transform your leadership? What is written on your leadership stone that you carry with you every day on your leadership walk that needs to be faced up to?