Leaders: Accept Who You Are

By | November 6, 2018

[November 6, 2018]  As incoming Freshman in college, everyone was required to take a contemporary English class.  One of the required books in the class was by Thomas A. Harris, MD, I’m Okay You’re Okay.1  It focused on the transactions among people.  Ultimately it was about accepting who we are.  Yet the idea that leaders should accept themselves is not new and remains an essential point.

A highly successful leader has little to do with one’s physical appearance or level of intelligence, social network, or economic status.  Leadership transcends these attributes because it is about how the individual is able to conduct themselves around others and as a leader, complete the mission while simultaneously taking care of the leader’s people.2  That can only be done if leaders are able to accept themselves as they are.

This does not mean that when leaders accept who they are, they have no motivation to make improvements in themselves.  Contrary to conventional thinking on this topic, a leader who is “okay” with themselves means that they accept how they are and that there will be many things they will never be able to do.

For example, a woman who is less than five feet tall will not be a professional basketball player and a man with an IQ of less than 100 will not be a great politician.  We may wish it to be so but reality says otherwise; at least today.  If this woman and man accept their limitations, they begin a path that takes them to other goals in life where they can concentrate their time and resources, and therefore be hugely successful.

There is little to gain by putting great effort and treasure into something that is not achievable.   Leaders still must still have the motivation to make continuous improvements in their own lives as well as others.  That is what makes them a leader.  Remember that Napoléon Bonaparte was short.


  1. The complete 1969 book can be read here in PDF format: http://www.mindguruindia.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/MP062_Parenting-Im-OK-Youre-OK.pdf
  2. https://www.theleadermaker.com/its-not-how-you-look/
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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

20 thoughts on “Leaders: Accept Who You Are

  1. Dale Paul Fox

    I agree with the premise of this blog post. What all leaders (and everyone for that matter) should be careful about is being complacent. Lack of motivation, intellectual laziness, bad attitudes; all stem from the lack of personal introspection. Too many folks today are both narcissistic and tribal in their behavior. I think it’s our politicians who are pushing this but our lack of accepting who we are allows it to happen.

    1. Albert Ayer

      All thumbs up on this. I also agree Dale. Thanks for the analysis.

  2. Tracey Brockman

    The radio and tv are lit up with commercials telling us who to vote for. If you don’t know the corrupt from the good, then don’t vote.

  3. Joe the Aussie

    Hanoi Jane is back in the news stumping for the American elections. We don’t like her here in Australia and we don’t like her looks either. This person is a traitor so it tells alot for who she is pulling for.

    1. Dennis Mathes

      Traitor Jane Fonda should be taken to North Korea and left there for the rest of her life. At least she will be taller than Kim Jong Un. Maybe he needs another concubine. Oh, that is a terrible visual.

  4. Willie Shrumburger

    Something people often overlook when they hear this is the idea of motivation. Accepting yourself means accepting your limitations and advantages for what they are. Making improvements is something else altogether.

  5. Darryl Sitterly

    The first step in being a good leader is to accept yourself as a person who must be centered on goodness. Otherwise, you may want to change yourself. If you don’t know what ‘goodness’ is, the you are part of the problem.

  6. Len Jakosky

    Get out and vote today if you live in America. Unless you’re stupid and then you should vote tomorrow (ha ha ha ha).

    1. Dale Paul Fox

      Good one, Len. Nearly snarfed my coffee thru my nose.

  7. Albert Ayer

    I think the biggest problem here is not that leaders need to accept themselves but that they “love” themselves too much. We are simply too narcissistic.

  8. Jerome Smith

    I read the same book decades ago and really didn’t know what to think about it. Last year I came across the book at a garage sale and put it on my bookshelf to read later; which I did. Okay book (pun intended). But taken out of context, the book really doesn’t strike me as very good.

  9. Ed Berkmeister

    I’ve been listening to the radio this morning (in US) and all I hear are political ads. How boring. Fortunately, I do accept myself and these ads have no impact on me whatsoever.

  10. Janna Faulkner

    Today is election day in the USA but the problem is not politicians accepting themselves but accepting election results.

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