Feeling the pain and doing it anyway


A leader considers the risks of asking for feedback even as he suspects it might make him look weak. Another ponders the dangers of increasing their collaboration skills when the company culture he works in is very hierarchical. Many other leaders struggle with the pain of delegating and their concern with the personal vulnerability it creates.

These are the things that great leaders think about. They are hard things to reflect on, even harder to actually change. I love every leader who muses about them and I love them more when they actually do them because when they stick with it, they are heading for great things.

It can be emotionally painful to realize that you have some developmental opportunities and even more painful to try to change them. It takes courage to change, to realize that what you are doing no longer works to your advantage and doesn’t serve your organization well.

You demonstrate your courage when you step into personal/professional change because:

You accept your imperfection. You haven’t let your position or power go to your head, and you know that no matter how good you think you are, there is always room for improvement. When you learn of your developmental opportunities, you might be a little defensive or you might not immediately see that you can do something about them. Your first reaction might be to blame others but you let what you’ve discovered simmer and you learn that there is some truth in your imperfection.

You are determined to make a difference. You are driven to take action, and you recognize that the action you take includes working on yourself. Making a difference requires you to be the best human being and leader you can possibly be. You’ve gained the wisdom to recognize that when you change yourself, you change everything. You’re eager to start.

You take the first step. The hardest part is taking actions needed to change yourself. But you know that the first step is the hardest, and you are driven. You find others to support you by letting them know what you are working on and asking them to tell you know when you go back to old habits. Now you are truly on your way!

You will see it through to the end. And then you’ll start over. You see the positive results of changing your behavior and you continue on until the changes are ingrained; they become automatic, like breathing. You stay steady and are able to sustain the changes you’ve made over time. At some point, you notice there are some new personal developmental opportunities cropping up, and you tackle them, knowing that they help you to become the great leader you want to be.

Personal/professional change can be painful. The best leaders are on a mission to change themselves for the better, and even though they feel the pain, they do it anyway.




I am a former executive in a Fortune 100 company. I have owned and operated an executive coaching firm since 2003 called Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. We partner with great leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving, and sustaining relationships with the people who are essential to their success. This blog is for leaders and those who help them to be more intentional about relationships at work. My top personal values include respect for others, kindness, compassion, collaboration and gratitude. I work very hard at practicing my values daily and when I don’t succeed, I practice some more. I am married with two wonderful daughters and two spoiled pugs.