Where on your path have you demonstrated wisdom, and when have you experienced setbacks?
I ask because these are defining moments that show you who you are. Whether you experienced incredible acts of vulnerability or authenticity, of great sacrifice or bursts of heroism, these defining moments create your heroic journey and support you in becoming your best self.
We journey not toward a destination but through a series of defining moments. It’s up to you to meet those moments with openness and an honest acknowledgment of your fears and faults so that when it’s time to face a struggle or trial, you triumph.
The Journey to Self
I like the approach outlined in the recent publication by Doug Conant and Amy Federman, The Blueprint: 6 Practical Steps to Lift Your Leadership to New Heights (Wiley, 2020). Doug Conant turned around the once struggling Campbell Soup Company and successfully led Nabisco Foods. What’s remarkable is how he overcame being fired without warning and considered this to be “the best thing that ever happened to him.” Why? It allowed him the time for self-reflection and discovery.
The journey to become your best self requires work and active intention. To get started, Conant suggests three steps:
Step 1: Write your entire life story.
- Write by hand, rather than type.
- If needed, start with a chronological outline, and add in the minutiae: all the intricate details you can recall.
- Provide context. For example, what is your birth order, where were you born, what major events—near or far—were taking place, etc.
Step 2: Identify your points of light– people who influenced you in your life.
- What were/are their standards for you?
- How did they demonstrate care and affection for you?
- How do you practice or model this for others?
Step 3: Reflect and connect.
- Explore your life story. Consider who and where you are right now.
- Then, ask yourself: Are you living your story, or the story someone else expects?
- Inhabit your story heroically. Be a part of the story, and not just a footnote.
Writing out your life story allows you to reflect and lay the groundwork for your next steps: intentionally envision, plan, and practice your heroic journey.