The journey to authentic leadership begins with understanding the story of your life. Your life story provides the context for your experiences, and through it, you can find the inspiration to make an impact in the world. As the novelist John Barth once wrote, “The story of your life is not your life. It is your story.” In other words, it is your personal narrative that matters, not the mere facts of your life. Your life narrative is like a permanent recording playing in your head. Over and over, you re- play the events and personal interactions that are important to your life, attempting to make sense of them to find your place in the world.
While the life stories of authentic leaders cover the full spectrum of experiences— including the positive impact of parents, athletic coaches, teachers, and mentors—many leaders reported that their motivation came from a difficult experience in their lives. They described the transformative effects of the loss of a job; personal illness; the untimely death of a close friend or relative; and feelings of being excluded, discriminated against, and rejected by peers. Rather than seeing themselves as victims, though, authentic leaders used these formative experiences to give meaning to their lives. They reframed these events to rise above their challenges and to discover their passion to lead.
– Bill George, Peter Sims, Andrew N. McLean, and Diana Mayer from HBR article ‘Discovering Your Authentic Leadership’