Being Content With The Self – A Requisite to Good Leadership

Imposter syndrome is everywhere.

We have all felt it at one point or another. That distinct feeling where you think “Who am I to be the one doing the things that I do?” Perhaps it occurred when you provided someone with advice or maybe it was just a thought that arose in your day to day life.

Really, it is a good question. One that I think is fundamentally rooted in the fact that most of the decisions we make in life are heuristic rather than logic based. When we do not have a clear reason for being the person that we are it is only natural that the question of “Who am I to be the one doing the things that I do?” arises.

Yet, regardless of this question we typically just get on with it and most of the time fail to address this it. The result is that the problem grows as we sink more and more costs into continuing down a path that we do not entirely understand.

Perhaps it does not have to be this way. Maybe, we need to understand our own credibility and reasons for being so that we can be better versions of ourselves and better leaders.

People Follow Those Who Are Authentic

A lot of us are afraid of the people that we are. I know for fact that I have felt this way before. As an insecure high school kid I probably spent more time pondering who I wished I was rather than spending time embracing who I actually am.

Now, am I saying I am a great example? Definitely not, but I must say that since I began to embrace who I am I have become a much happier person and in my own highly biased view a better leader.

Let us look at broader cases, cases that we all know.

Steve Jobs was a visionary. Yet when he was alive he was a highly controversial and divisive figure. People followed him anyways. So, why was it that people would follow a figure who was so demanding and who so heavily disagreed with the status quo? I would argue that in large part it was because he was authentically himself.

Steve Jobs defied convention when it came to leadership. He did things you were not supposed to do, like asking others to meet deadlines that those who were to abide by them thought impossible. He put others down and demanded the best of them regardless of that fact. And yet, today he is viewed as a great leader. The thing about Steve is that he was never afraid of being himself. And to others around him that was clear, in fact that is why Steve’s management style has become so heavily publicized as being authentically his style. Steve was known for being Steve, not for following the tips on leadership provided in publications.

Now, did Steve become a better leader over the years? Undoubtedly he did. He understood how important constant improvement was, and ran with it in stride both for himself and Apple.

Those who are authentic can be respected, for they are independent and choose to make their own decisions that disagree with popular opinion.

Be Content, The Key to Authenticity

If you are not content with who you are, it is hard to be authentic because you will find yourself questioning your authority over everything you are doing.

As soon as you begin to question your authority it will show and others will see it too.

That is not to say that you always need to be sure of everything you do, that is far from the truth. However, you do need to always be sure that the way you act is the way you believe that you should act. The second there is disharmony here, you become hard to trust.

So, how do you be content? How do you be satisfied with who you are today when you know that you can be so much more?

The answer to this is surprisingly simple. You need to be confident that you are actively working to learn and get better, meaning that you are on the road to becoming more than you are today, meaning it would be unfair to yourself to expect more from yourself then you are capable of.

Then, you need to act with the information that you do have as best you can.

The late and great Charlie Munger, Warren Buffet’s former right-hand man said to always be a learning machine.

That is what you need to do to be content. Become a learning machine that acts in the best way it can provided the information that it does have.

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