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The fire in you

September 21, 2010

On Saturday I facilitated a workshop on Leadership and Personality for a diverse group of emerging leaders. The essence of it was my deep belief that by letting our unique personalities shine, we will be stronger and more effective leaders. I spent too many years of my leadership career trying to fit into a box that wasn’t my size, so now I’m trying to help other people bust out of those boxes into new ways of being.

I started the session with a series of questions.

  • What are the stories you’ve been lead to believe about your personality? What did/do your parents/siblings/teachers/friends tell you – verbally or non-verbally – about who you are and who you are supposed to be?
  • Setting aside the stories others have told you, what do YOU believe to be true about your personality and your place in the world?
  • Which story are you allowing to shape who you are today? And what do you do with the disconnect?

After that introduction, all of the participants in the workshop spent some time exploring their personalities through a True Colors analysis. In True Colors, aspects of your personality are revealed through a rainbow of colours, some of which are stronger than others. (Side note: I am not a strong believer that personality type tests tell the WHOLE story or that we should read them as gospel truth, but I do believe they help us understand ourselves better, especially if we’re early on the journey to self-discovery.)

An aboriginal woman in the group identified herself as most strongly Orange, the colour that represents spontaneity, action, and a love of adventure.

“I see it as the fire in me,” she said. “An orange fire. A fire that others tried to put out. When I was growing up in residential schools, they were always trying to stamp out my energy, my creativity, and my spontaneity. They wanted me to conform to their model of what a ‘good girl’ was. But they couldn’t put the fire out. It will always burn in me and now that I’m grown, I’m learning to trust it and let it shine brighter and brighter.”

Her words were so powerful. I know I will remember them for a long, long time. 

Most of us haven’t gone through the hell of residential schools, nor do we know the deep injuries that have been done to our Aboriginal people in the name of “making them more like us”.  But almost all of us have stories of how people – most of them well-meaning but wrong-headed – tried to stamp out our fire.

What is it in you that is trying to emerge despite the stories you’ve been lead to believe about yourself?

Maybe it’s burning brightly, or maybe it’s just a tiny spark that needs some air to help it burst into a roaring flame. 

I welcome you to answer the questions above to help you rekindle your flame.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. September 21, 2010 2:13 pm

    This really hit home — I do believe, and have seen myself, that all too often we become who we’re ‘supposed’ to be or ‘told’ (like you said, verbally or non-verbally) what we should or should not be or become.

    And I think this is especially true for women (though of course also true for men), as we often spend our time trying to please our parents/siblings/friends/teachers/bosses, etc.

    And that’s not being true to who we really are. In many ways it feels like being in a prison or dying a slow death. At least that what it was for me….

    For many years I tried to fit the mold of who others thought I should be. But it didn’t make me happy…so I got out of THEIR comfort zone and became more of who I really am. Thank goodness.

    But it’s not always easy. I sometimes get pulled back from time-to-time, so it’s always good to have reminders or exercises that get me back in touch with the real me.

    Because the real me is who I’m supposed to be…with faults and all 🙂

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