To be aware of your unique qualities and develop them is your gift to the world. You don’t need a character transplant to be comfortable, connected or successful. What you need is to take advantage of who you already are and express your truth in your own way.
Martha Graham says, “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action. And because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it.”
The release of human possibility starts with revealing your true self. Revealing your spark is the foundation for developing leadership qualities. Your biggest fear might be public speaking or death. An even more compelling fear is never having lived, or living a life that doesn’t really matter.
As a way to escape from aloneness, you might seek conformity, mistaking it for unity. But the only real escape from aloneness is through connection. Yearning for true unity leads to connection to all things – self, people, nature, spirit. Living fully is loving fully. That means loving what you do and who you do it with.
Not everyone feels compelled to reveal their inner spark. Maybe you like yourself just the way you are. Perhaps you’re thinking spark is just one more thing you don’t have and don’t need. Or it may look like developing authenticity is way too much work since it seems to come so easily for others.
Actually, uncovering spark, charisma and leadership qualities are a lot easier than it looks. One of the first steps is to stop trying to imitate someone else and become the real you. Developing a completely natural persona that reveals your unique spark is what makes you so attractive.
Notice your strengths and come from that place of inner knowing. Use your inner gifts and powers to have an impact, whether your impact is with your family, your community, your country or the world. Some of you do this in a stormy eye-opening way. Others take a quiet centered approach that can be gentle, loving and powerful.
Seize the chance to shine fully and take your place, to refine your vision and engage others. Part of taking the risk to be open, to come out of hiding, is to touch the longing in yourself and in others. If this were an easy thing to do, you wouldn’t see so many people reluctant to step into leadership, or shuffling apologetically about taking on a powerful role.
Focus on what you have, not what you don’t. Use your personal power as the starting place for your personal development. Expect to find resistance in yourself. Pay attention to your dreams and gifts – and do not give up on yourself as unworthy.
At Leadership that Works, we think personal spark is a positive, powerful force. We believe that everyone is born with a spark. Over time, most of us learn to cover up our spark out of fear. Fear of failure. For people who continuously discover new ways to reveal their spark, the difference is a willingness to take risks. Risk taking can lead to great losses or great successes.
Our unpredictable, changing world is crying out for strong leaders. Television and movies make great entertainment, but we seek real-life heroes and heroines as well. How tragic that many of our great leaders boost their heroic status with their death. Princess Diana’s call to eliminate landmines made more headlines the week of her death than all during her short life. When someone heroic dies, many people step up to carry the flame, but few know how to step into the shoes of a true leader.
With advanced technology emphasizing the visual, charisma plays an important role in effectiveness. Television, with so much footage on the cutting room floor, gives us reason to doubt anyone who stumbles, stutters or lacks spontaneity. We want leaders who have it all. Most of us don’t have to dig too deeply to suspect that we will never have it all. And yet, getting one piece at a time can bring great comfort and joy, both to ourselves and others.
So who needs spark? You may enjoy working behind the scenes, greasing the wheel, and have no desire to bask in the limelight. Whether you bag groceries at the supermarket or are a motivational speaker with an audience of thousands, your spark affects your realm of influence. Your aliveness helps you in everyday life, from convincing a youngster to look both ways before crossing the street, to getting an elderly neighbor to join the gym.
Your ability to positively influence others can be huge. With a little help, you can develop the skills to motivate others to follow your lead. More importantly, you know that people want to be led, and led well. In the book Leaders, Bennis and Nanus say, “The truth is that leadership opportunities are plentiful and within reach of most people.”
Sometimes the things you do that influence others may surprise you. A friend made the statement, “I enjoy going to football games because I like the snap in the air.” He seemed genuinely startled when a group of his friends talked about how his use of language inspires them.
Like everyone else, you are both a leader and a follower. Even self-proclaimed wallflowers influence tens of thousands of people during a lifetime. They may be asked for an opinion on where to go on vacation, which book to read, or what car to buy. When you think of the many different people who have influenced you in big and small ways, you begin to get a sense of your own influence. Being aware of your personal impact, and developing your desired impact is at the heart of leadership.
Written by Martha Lasley