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True Influence Comes from Deep Within, Not Just Surface Changes

“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”
– Carl Jung

Beyond Surface-Level Changes

Every day, articles and new releases fill social media and bookshelves, promising to reveal the secrets of great leadership. They tell us that by adopting certain habits, traits, behaviors, and even changing our thinking, we can become the leaders we aspire to be. While the intention behind this advice is good, such efforts often fall short and fail to last.

I would argue that true leadership goes beyond these surface-level changes; it requires a deeper transformation in our way of being and a connection to our inner truth. Do we become better leaders simply by changing our thinking or through inspiring words, or is there a more profound shift needed in our consciousness?

Despite the growing focus on leadership, we are not creating better leaders. Or at least not the ones we need. The abundance of leadership advice and resources available to us should lead us to question our approach. If the current methods were truly effective, we would see a significant improvement in the quality of leadership. The fact that we don’t suggests that we need to reevaluate our understanding of what it takes to be a great leader.

This article was inspired by a post and article on LinkedIn. The article has a lot of great insight and focus on the issue of psychological safety. I’ve done a lot of inner work over the past 13 years and had my own shift in consciousness. But, it’s still the elephant in the room. You can’t discuss it in most social media and business contexts.

Until we undergo this inner transformation ourselves, the issue remains unseen and invisible. It’s going to take those of us who have experienced this shift to speak out. The solutions we seek and the challenges we face require nothing less. I encourage anyone with a perspective on this to share their insights.

Today’s world changes fast. It’s easy to fall for advice that tells you adopting certain traits and habits will make you a successful leader. It tells you to copy the traits and habits of successful leaders. I know because I followed this advice for many years.

So why doesn’t this approach work, and what should we do instead? In this article, I share my insights on why it doesn’t work and what to do instead.

Why New Habits and Ideal Traits Don’t Work

Carl Jung’s quote highlights a deep truth. Superficial changes don’t lead to true enlightenment or good leadership. When we only focus on adopting new habits, behaviors, or traits, we often make only surface-level changes. We don’t deal with the root causes of our behaviors. This surface-level approach doesn’t lead to deep change. It ignores the root issues.

Striving to emulate an ideal leader sets an unrealistic standard. Each person is unique, and trying to fit into a predefined mold can stifle our authenticity. This can lead to frustration and a sense of inadequacy when we inevitably fall short of these ideals.

True leadership comes from a place of presence and authenticity. When we focus on adopting specific traits or habits, we lose touch with our inner voice. This disconnect can create a sense of inauthenticity that others easily see through.

New habits often fail to stick when they are imposed from outside. Without a big change in our self-awareness, these changes are unlikely to last.

What We Need to Do Instead

The foundation of true and lasting change is cultivating our inner awareness. This means being aware and engaged in the present. Self-awareness isn’t drowned out by our overthinking mind. It allows us to connect with our true selves. It lets us respond to situations authentically, not reactively.

Rather than adopting external traits, focus on deepening your self-awareness. Understand your strengths, weaknesses, and the unconscious patterns that drive your behavior. This awareness creates a solid foundation for genuine growth.

Authentic leaders are those who lead from their true selves, not from a set of ideal traits. Embrace your uniqueness and let your leadership style naturally emerge from who you are. This authenticity will resonate more with others and foster genuine connections.

True transformation arises from within. We should not try to impose new behaviors on ourselves. Instead, we must turn inward and cultivate inner awareness. By focusing on inner practices, we start to reveal the unconscious patterns. We realize we’ve been running on autopilot.

As we bring awareness to these patterns, they naturally begin to dissolve. We are not our thoughts, emotions, or past experiences. We are the vast, unchanging consciousness that witnesses them. From this place of inner stillness and clarity, authentic change effortlessly unfolds.

External actions and habits then become a natural expression of our inner state of being. We find ourselves acting more wisely and compassionately. We are also more aligned with the true perspective on our current reality. This is the key to lasting change. It’s not a forceful change of our outer lives, but a deep shift in how we relate to life. As we awaken to our true nature, we become a living embodiment of change. Our presence becomes a catalyst for change in the world around us.

Navigating the Journey from External Habits to Inner Transformation

Speaking up is vital today. It means expressing ideas, asking questions, and admitting mistakes without fear. Research shows that safe workplaces foster creativity and innovation. They also lead to stronger collaboration and higher employee satisfaction. But achieving this requires more than training and a cultural shift. This means everyone needs to do inner work. Leaders especially need to develop their inner awareness.

The problem with new habits and ideal leadership traits is their superficiality. They are disconnected from our true selves. To create lasting change, we must shift focus from external traits. We must focus on building presence, self-awareness, and inner authenticity. We inspire others by being who we truly are. We lead from that place. This can create lasting change.

So, let go of the pressure to conform to ideal standards. Instead, embark on a journey of self-discovery and inner transformation. The best leaders are authentic and aware. This is the path to making a lasting impact.

This approach focuses on inner change, not external habits. It fosters authentic leadership and lasting transformation from within. Are we ready to make a workplace where true psychological safety can thrive? This safety is rooted in self-awareness.

Embrace this journey and lead with your true self. The world is waiting for your transformation.

— Bill 

Bill Fox, Founder, LeaderONE

Email: bill@billfox.co
Connect with me: LinkedIn | billfox.co
Pioneering Leadership from Within | Unlocking Human & Organizational Potential