If there is a defining characteristic of the human species, it is our ability to reinvent ourselves. From the Theater of Dionysus at the foot of the Acropolis in Athens to $3.99 Google virtual reality headset you can buy today on Amazon, from the Eucharist to an advanced degree at MIT, we have become expert at engaging in activities that change us from who we were to who we want to be. Leading an organization in today’s environment of pervasive disruption is no different, as my clients have taught me.

Every great leader I know dedicates significant time and energy to their own metamorphosis, driven by the knowledge that today’s results are generated from who they are today and if they want to do more, bigger, better, they need to become the kind of person who develops their ability to influence others to create more, bigger and better.

The kinds of experiences I see leaders engaging in to sustain this autopoiesis include:

  • Reading – I haven’t yet met a leader who doesn’t enjoy the newspaper, Internet media sources, and of course, books, which have been opening minds for 4,418 years
  • Mentors – A shortcut to new capabilities is to find someone who has already done what you want to do and studying their behavior as well as sitting at their feet
  • Experiences – You can’t learn to kayak from reading a book. At some point, you have to get in the water. Many leaders I know do site visits to other organizations that have accomplished what they want to achieve
  • Inner development – Meditation has been around since prehistoric times, aiding people in developing their ability to focus as well as find a stillpoint of calm in the midst of life

What will you do this week to develop yourself?

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
— George Bernard Shaw