You spend the first two decades of your life in a structured environment. You learn how to walk, talk, eat, and other basic survival skills in the first few years. Then you head to school where you are taught to follow directions, complete tasks, take tests, and master different subjects.
Your life is organized into semesters. Even though that term doesn’t get introduced until college, there is a defined beginning, middle, and end. The curriculum plan is set out, the syllabus is distributed, and it becomes the road map from August to December and then January to May.
Perhaps the most unsettling thing about graduating and finishing school is that life is no longer neatly divided into semesters. There is no longer a teacher, instructor, or professor who stands at the front of the class, distributes a plan, and gives you a clear list of checkpoints between the start and finish of the experience. That is a tough transition to make and can leave you feeling unsettled, anxious, and frustrated.
Life is not measured in semesters but seasons of growth and change.
Life is a never-ending personal growth experience. It’s ongoing and perpetual until the day you die. Whether you choose to embrace it as a learning experience is up to you. Nevertheless, life is not neatly divided up into semesters, courses, and learning plans.
The older I get, the more aware I am that life is about becoming my best self rather than achieving the highest heights. It’s much more important that I live into the fullness of my divine design than it is to achieve or acquire certain things. I’m not suggesting that I don’t strive for success, growth, and to maximize the opportunities I have been given. But it means that the highest value of that pursuit is what I can learn about myself and how it will change me over time.
Who you become is more important than the breakthrough you’ll experience along the way.
To achieve organizational breakthrough will require you to grow, change, and develop in some very specific ways. Those are different and will change over time given the circumstances and conditions surrounding the breakthrough you want to experience. Nevertheless, you won’t experience breakthrough without also being transformed in a specific way.
A mentor explained it to me like this: Every experience in life is like depositing money in an investment account over time. All you see is small, consistent deposits. Then one day you realize that decades of compounded interest have taken a really small amount of money and turned it into something magnificent, substantial, and meaningful. Breakthrough will result in personal transformation just like personal transformation will result in breakthrough. It will happen slowly but will compound in value and significance over time.
I’ve seen too many people come to the brink of breakthrough only to back away because they feared the transformation that had to take place in their life. Sometimes its habits that need to be broken, addictions that need to be resolved, and self-discovery that needs to take place. Sometimes it’s painful parts of our history that need to be dealt with, toxicity from negative experiences that needs to be neutralized, and a general willingness to accept that you are not in control. Whatever breakthrough you want to experience is likely being delayed because of a transformation that has yet to take place in your life.
Let me suggest five reasons why this is true:
1. Transformation is about what happens within while breakthrough is typically external. The strength of your leadership is sourced from within.
2. Transformation has lasting effects while breakthrough is often limited to a moment in time. Who you become is way more important than what you achieve.
3. Transformation prepares you for the leadership breakthrough that will take place. If you’re not ready for the breakthrough, you’ll get in your own way.
4. Transformation ensures you can sustain the conditions that will become a reality until after the breakthrough has been experienced. No one wants a temporary breakthrough; everyone wants a lasting one.
5. Transformation provides the clarity, confidence, and conviction necessary to reach for the next breakthrough. When you are living from your divine design, breakthrough will take place again and again.
If you truly want to experience a breakthrough, you need to anticipate that you’ll need to change and transform as a leader. They go hand in hand. So how can you identify the ways you need to transform yourself and your leadership?
Start by Asking yourself these questions:
· What type of leader do I need to be for the breakthrough to take place?
· In what ways do I need to be prepared to support, encourage, and grow the people around me who will also be affected by the breakthrough?
· What’s holding me back from being that type of leader?
If you take the time to answer those questions, you’ll recognize clues that will help you understand what changes need to take place within you before the breakthrough you want to see take place can become true. It’s not always easy to look within, especially for leaders. There are decisions to make, meetings to attend, and strategy to be set. I promise you that if you’ll do the work above, it will elevate your ability to lead and will pave the way for you and your team to experience breakthrough results in your personal and professional lives.
Sometimes working harder, longer, and with greater force isn’t the answer. Sometimes you need to get out of your own way and lead from your best self. The only way to do that is to make time for the personal reflection required for growth and development.
You’ll never experience breakthrough without also transformation, and you’ll never experience transformation without it also resulting in a breakthrough.
CHALLENGE: List the ways you need to change and adapt to become the leader you need to be to achieve the breakthrough you want to experience. Define the interstitial steps necessary to achieve that transformation and breakthrough. Add dates to each step and make it true.