Build a Foundation for Your Success
"Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power." -- Tao Te Ching
“To know your limits is a state of self-delusion.” Bill Purdin
I was never short of confidence nor missed an opportunity to advance my career. I had an implicit faith in my insight and instinct. But an anomalous incident exposed a powerful context I was unaware of, it transformed my understanding of who I was, and it undermined my basic precepts of how I looked at the world. This was the day I became present to my true potential.
I was attending a strategic planning session for the management team at a company I worked for in Germany. The meeting was to finalize planning for an ambitious expansion into America. I was surprised to be invited to the meeting because although I would be a key employee of the new company, I could not see what value I could contribute and I was preoccupied with making a critical delivery later that same day. I sat unobtrusively through the meeting with a small part of my mind listening for any cues related to my future activity, while I focused on solutions to my scheduling problem.
I suddenly became aware that the tension in the room had reached a critical mass when the Managing Director of the company stood to speak. “This is a major investment for our company, our international reputation will be at stake, and we need the strongest possible team, under the most effective leadership to ensure success.” After a pause for effect, he turned, held out his hand to me and said: “Kevin, congratulations, you are now the President of our US company!” I do not have a clear recollection what happened after that. I was aware of barely participating in a brief discussion, receiving the congratulations of everyone at the meeting and then I was mercifully rescued to manage the delivery crisis.
The next morning, in my new position I led a team meeting as we developed a more detailed plan of action to establish the new organization. I was dealing with everything from finance to immigration, from marketing to logistics, and from personnel to projections, and while not completely comfortable, I knew I was the right person, in the right place, at the right time.
Know thyself. —Socrates
So what had happened? Did I really know myself? What possibilities had I previously overlooked? As someone who had climbed the ladder from the shop floor, how could I be so out of step with my own capability and not sensed this opportunity? What did they see in me I had not seen in myself? How could I go from technician to company president overnight?
Do you remember a time in your life, no matter how brief, when everything you did seemed to go perfectly, your touch was unerring, your decisions were flawless, and you felt unstoppable, confident and accomplished?
While this elevated level of performance is often described, as being “in-the-zone,” the experience is really a period of time when your talents, your confidence, your being, and your energy were all perfectly aligned and optimally attuned with your intentions. It is called your Essence.
To be pleased with one's limits is a wretched state. -- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Your Essence is your generally unrealized and underutilized potential for greatness we are born with. While we all periodically stumble into our Essence, most of us do not consciously recognize or deliberately access this inherent power. As a result, and compounded by ingrained assumptions and repeated negative reinforcement, we are rarely present to our essence. In this transformation my colleagues were not inhibited by my belief system, but were conscious of my power, my potential … my Essence.
After this exposure to a more powerful form of leadership I never looked back. In fact this lesson provided an effective template as we built successful technology companies in several countries over the next decade. I had discovered that leadership is less about leading and is more about recognizing nascent talent. Leadership is about creating a vision and an environment in which talented people can discover themselves through their accomplishments. Leadership is about stimulating people to release their inherent greatness and it is about being in your Essence.
Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. -- Tao Te Ching
The lessons I learned were that preparation; enthusiasm and determination were insufficient if you are not fully self-aware. I learned the power of connection in breaking through self-imposed barriers and limiting beliefs. I learned that transitioning into a new field of possibility is easier with a push from friends and colleagues. I learned that an adaptive flexibility is an essential development tool and that being in my Essence is the key to my success.
By comparison … if you sense you are missing opportunity, you are probably right. If you feel you have yet to show your best, you are probably right. If you see a different future with a different outcome, you are probably right and if you sense you are not using your talent, you are probably right.
Have you notice that people around you often have a great deal more confidence in your abilities than you? They are certainly right. What these friends and colleagues are present to is your untapped potential and your underutilized capability.
If you are determined to achieve life and business success, create your Essence as your foundation.
Learn more about the author, Kevin Carey.
Comment on this article
Posted by Terra Paley, Los Angeles, California |
Nov 05, 2009
Posted by Michael Abrahamson, Bellevue, Washington |
Nov 05, 2009
You have hit a home run with this article. this is exactly what i teach in my workshops. People ALWAYS see us better than we see ourselves. Great job Kevin...
Posted by josh davis, Kansas City, Missouri |
Nov 05, 2009
Thank you Kevin, very well said.
Posted by Ute Medley, Mercer Island, Washington |
Nov 05, 2009
Great article. And here is another thought to jazz up.
"Human nature will not flourish, any more than a potato, if it be planted and replanted, for too long a series of generations, in the same worn-out soil. My children have had other birthplaces, and, so far as their fortunes may be within my control, shall strike their roots into unaccustomed earth." --Nathaniel Hawthorne
Posted by Tannya Bernadette, Seattle, Washington |
Nov 05, 2009
This is very true, you can be intelligent, business savvy, whatever you like, but you must believe in yourself to attract others.
Posted by Susan Straub-Martin, Bellevue, Washington |
Nov 06, 2009
Kevin-Thank you for the wonderful insight.
I had not seen a friend for awhile as I had been busy building my lines, in speaking with her she had said to me that i was living my Essence. I now know what that is.
To dream is one thing, to make reality is the best thing.
Posted by Olabode Oruku, Ikeja, Lagos Nigeria |
Nov 06, 2009
Great article. I really enjoyed it.
Posted by Jason Brett, Los Angeles, California |
Dec 09, 2009
Thank you so much for humbly sharing your experiences, I have learned so much about myself. Such an amazing story about living at you edge. Thank you.
- self awareness
- situational awareness
- self esteem