In my recent paper, I reflected on our multiple selves and that the best leaders nurture the better selves with whom they live and work. While recognizing both positive and negative human behavior, exceptional leaders create an environment that fosters positive relationships.
But, as I’ve written many times, if experiences that make up the past are especially powerful or repetitious, there is a strong likelihood that the past tenaciously remains part of our present. It does not diminish in time but remains present like a persistent itch that some people suffer without relief.
The rare, true leader never gives up on providing nurturing relationships and a supportive environment. Although they may be the salve that contributes to eliminating the itch, the battle to be a better self is always one’s own. Being open to growth and change is never easy. Erasing the past is impossible but understanding it and setting it aside is not.
Still, even the best leaders are unable to change another directly. They can only build relationships and provide the necessary environment whose power is such that it is seen as safe enough so the other can make the decision for change. Never easy, but it happens, given the right circumstances.
There is a beauty to all this. We CAN make ourselves into better humans. Yet, we may not be able to do this all by ourselves. History can be as tenacious as an octopus, wrapping its tentacles so tightly around us that escape looks and feels impossible. Nevertheless, there is a path to growth and change. Help is there in the behavior of the quality leader.
My past tenacious—I am this person—Assist me to growth.