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Leading by Unpacking (2 of 4) | Thinking About What You’re Thinking About

The last time you joined me, I introduced the evolution of my new leadership development concept about the guided self-discovery process of “leading by unpacking”.

Let’s think a bit more about the concept and process of unpacking – particularly old “stuff” that we may have put in boxes or bins years ago – or we may have had in our minds for years, but never really taken it out to look more closely at how it is either serving me today or not. I’m sure we all have boxes or bins or suitcases, in our closets, our attics, our basements or our garages, filled with stuff from our past that we may not even realize we still have! We may only find it again when we move, or someone says, “Hey – what’s in here?” And opening one or more of them will reveal what we thought was important “back then” or what we thought was important to “hang on to for future use at some point.” (Cuz we all know we’ll use that ball of twine in the basement at some point!) And yet, when we re-discover those things, we may realize that that pair of pants will never fit again, or I’d never wear that style again even if they DO fit, or I used to think that looked cool but now realize it doesn’t go with who I am now! So, then we get to decide what and who we are NOW that these old things will go with or not.

The same holds true for what we think we know and what we think we believe. How often do we engage in meta-cognition – the process of thinking about how we think? We often, unconsciously or unintentionally just easily adopt beliefs, attitudes and perceptions of others that we learned from our parents, our schools, the media, etc. If we really consciously unpack those unconscious thoughts and attitudes, as with our boxes and bins, we can now take the opportunity to really examine them – Do I REALLY believe that about __________(group of people or organization)? How and why do I KNOW that to be true? Is it based on my own experience or have I taken someone else’s word about that issue/person/group? How are my beliefs, attitudes and perceptions supporting who I am NOW in my life and in my role – or are there some I need to put in the garbage can, or at least recycle into something new and more useful to me now?

These kinds of reflections can help us ground ourselves in who we are TODAY and how we want to lead others in our role to build the kind of diverse, inclusive and welcoming organization that will succeed.

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