3 Suggestions for Cultivating Your Leadership Potential
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"Hii-yaaah!" I smiled as she laughed at her attempt to poke fun at my martial art uniform. Yes, my pants were tight fitting, but as a leader within a community of people who practice a martial art called capoeira, I am required to wear white pants, a white t-shirt and a belt around my waist to class and for events.
Capoeira has origins among enslaved Africans in Brazil and combines components of dance, music, acrobatics, rituals, and self-defense movements. The uniform reflects my years of experience and leadership commitments within the community of schools with which my business maintains affiliation.
The pants I wear for capoeira are not comfortable, but through my training and life experiences, I have learned that leadership skills strengthen during the moments we get uncomfortable.Leaders find comfort in their discomfort.
Capoeira training is among the most physically demanding activities that any person can engage as a form of exercise. It consists of uncomfortable, strenuous, and intense calisthenics’ movements that transition between the ground and air. There are easier ways to stay in shape, but because of my dedication to capoeira and responsibilities to share it with others, I continue to push myself to train harder every day.
Moving away from home.
My ability to continue with training in spite of challenges has prepared me to make other difficult choices. After three years of working as a university professor, my wife and I decided to move from the United States to Mexico. The challenges with downsizing a 3200sq foot home to ten suitcases, learning a new language, and adjusting to Mexican culture have enabled me to identify with Ruisi’s praise of leaders who can get comfortable in uncomfortable situations.
With three small children in addition to the reality of leaving family and friends who lived in the United States, it was not an easy decision to relocate out of the country. However, my wife and I believed it was necessary to offer our children an opportunity to learn Spanish and to pursue our entrepreneurial ventures full-time.
As a single member manager of a limited liability company, I am ultimately responsible for every facet of my business. I work with web designers, photographers, accountants, independent contractors and others who look to me for leadership decisions. When I lived in the United States, I taught adults and children multiple times a week as their capoeira instructor. In addition to my business, my work as a college professor with students and research responsibilities informed my approach to leadership.
Through my experiences in martial arts and entrepreneurialism, and as a US citizen who has moved abroad, I offer the following three suggestions for leaders seeking to reach their full potential.
1. Get OK with being uncomfortable.
You don’t have to wear tight pants to get uncomfortable! However, I do believe that you need to place yourself in a position that forces you to stretch beyond your current level to improve and develop new skills. Through my training that involves physical and mental exercises, Capoeira has taught me to extend beyond my limiting beliefs to acquire new skills, knowledge and approaches to leadership. Leaders should get comfortable with being uncomfortable because through personal and professional challenges exists a plethora of opportunities for growth.
2. Delegate tasks with confidence.
You have to be willing to share the responsibility of the company with someone else. Leaders must loosen their control and trust others to complete tasks effectively. Leaders who dare to delegate can inspire others to levels of leadership. As a single member limited liability company, I consistently seek the assistance of others for projects I am unable to complete by myself. In working with others, I have found that leaders must be willing to empower others to reach their full potential through trusting them to assist in a way that can move the company forward. A confident leader knows and accepts that they cannot do everything by themselves.
3. Commit to the process to uncover the best you.
Serving as the CEO of a company can be challenging at times, but you must commit to the company and to the process of becoming the best leader you can be. It is beneficial to demonstrate a level of commitment to the company for employees to replicate and to inspire leadership potential. In moving abroad, I had to commit to the process of meeting the challenges that accompany learning a new language and making other cultural adjustments. After a year and three months, my children are speaking Spanish and Mexico is feeling like home.
Leaders dedicate themselves to their work and contributions regardless of the hurdles that inevitably arise in route to success. The roles we occupy require discomfort, shared responsibility, and commitment. We have the choice whether to empower obstacles to build or destroy our character en route to reaching our leadership potential.