Ernest Hemingway

What I Learned About Leadership from Ernest Hemingway

There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.
— Ernest Hemingway

Exploring the Depths of Self-Transcendent Leadership

In several recent articles, I’ve discussed my inner leader journey and some of my personal leadership insights in greater depth. But I’ve found it challenging. How do I best write about a type of leadership that goes beyond conventional practices and expectations to present in a way that inspires action and deeper understanding?

My attempts to use words like authentic, genuine, and true leadership, for example, are not words I prefer. Given how commonly and frequently these words are thrown about, what do they actually mean? 

I’ve had trouble finding a suitable word or phrase because none of these leadership descriptions resonate. My leadership experience has been deeply introspective, reaching far beyond the conventional wisdom found in most leadership narratives. It’s a path less traveled, where insights run deeper.

I’ve found that leadership is not just about leading others. In today’s world, it’s more about developing a closer relationship and understanding of oneself and the outside world. 

Recently, my search for the ideal words to better express my perspective led me to participate in a forum where I could discuss my challenge with others. At this session, I had the opportunity to examine the core of what makes my background and style of leadership unique. I returned from the session with many new ideas that led to even more revelations. 

Authentic, genuine, and true leadership are helpful ways to talk about leadership, and I frequently use them, but they don’t adequately communicate what I have to say and share. My challenge is to find the words that resonate with my personal journey and that might invite others to explore a similar path.

On a hunch, I turned to Ernest Hemingway for the right words. I’ve always admired his ability to share deep and complex truths through simple words. I discovered a surprising and insightful quote: “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” 

Hemingway’s words resonated deeply with me, capturing the essence of what I’ve been trying to say. This isn’t just a journey of becoming a better leader—it’s about transcending beyond the limits of oneself.

Self-transcendent leadership emerges when we discover the immense power within our very essence. This journey moves us beyond traditional views of life, work, and leadership, guiding us to transcend who we presently are.

By developing a profound connection with our inner self and learning to observe our minds without getting entangled in narratives, we open ourselves to the truth of reality. It’s in this space of deep inner awareness and detachment from the egoic mind that we unlock our true potential and lead from a place of genuine power.

Using Inner Awareness to Guide the Leadership Journey

Understanding self-transcendent leadership requires us to begin a journey inside, exploring our consciousness. While ‘consciousness’ might sound elusive to many, it’s more approachable than you might think. There are straightforward steps we can take to naturally enhance our understanding of consciousness and bring more of it into our lives and world.

For example, by learning to observe our own thinking, we begin to make shifts that lead to greater insights into how we respond with greater impact rather than react from our conditioned self.

Self-transcendent leadership is about connecting with our inner core, the essence of who we truly are, before our parents and society conditions us to adopt a mind-made sense of self. When we see this, we connect with a deeper essence where we find greater wisdom and knowledge. 

My work at Space Beyond Boundaries is one of the most vivid and visible examples of this change in my world. For the past four years, I have published a weekly blog post and created innovative new designs that help people understand, master, and learn from the people, ideas, and experiences that have shaped my inner journey.

But here’s the interesting thing: each week, I never know what I will write about and create. I truly start from a place of ‘not knowing,’ and it just happens. The writing and designs flow through me from an inner source.

Staying rooted in the deeper awareness is where our genuine power exists. We rise above the daily noise and chaos rather than letting ourselves become lost in surface-level identities. With this power, we can respond to life’s events not from conditioned mental patterns but rather from the point of inner awareness and wisdom.

As we shift our focus on our inner world, the depth and significance of our conversations and activities change. Rather than dwelling on our challenges, we connect more deeply with reality and focus more on what we want to create. By observing people and situations without judgment, we allow ourselves to tap into profound wisdom, guiding us towards actions that are not only appropriate but deeply insightful.

From this place of greater insight and clarity, beyond the reach of the ego and the repeating patterns of past experiences, we lead from our core self. Our leadership emanates from the essence of our being, where the mind and ego no longer dictate our actions, but rather, our authentic self guides us.

Guided by Core Principles

The journey of self-transcendent leadership goes beyond traditional leadership paradigms, inviting a deeper engagement with ourselves and the world. 

By understanding and accessing our inner being, we free ourselves from the constraints of the ego and mind, enabling a leadership rooted in awareness, consciousness, synchronicity, and a deep connection to the essence of life.

This form of leadership allows us to navigate life’s challenges with more grace and wisdom. It’s about evolving beyond the conditioned identity of the mind and embodying true awareness, liberating ourselves from assuming roles and asserting our egos. We discover how to be in the world without being trapped by it, interacting with life from a profound new understanding.

Self-transcendent leadership, then, is not just a style or technique; it’s a way of being, a path to living from our inner essence and who we truly are.

It’s about recognizing that the greatest journey we can undertake is the journey within to continually “being superior to your former self.”

I invite you to read more articles like this at my site, LeaderONE, and discover how our transformative conversations and pioneering experiences quietly revolutionize human potential, workspaces, and leadership.

— Bill

Bill Fox, Founder, LeaderONE

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Pioneering Leadership from Within | Quietly Unlocking Human and Organizational Potential