[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.
- 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