A young man came to his wise leader and asked how he could be a better leader.
The wise leader said, “Let me pour you a cup of tea.” And so he started pouring a cup of tea; he kept pouring and pouring and pouring until the young man screamed, “Stop! The cup is full.”
And the wise leader looked at the young man and said, “Exactly. Your cup is full, and unless you empty your cup first—unless you are ready to part with things you are holding on to—there will be no room for new wisdom, new ideas, new innovation, new reasoning, new anything. There is great wisdom in parting.”
The power of great leadership comes from the power of parting:
Part with comparing ourselves to others. Don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides. When we’re constantly comparing ourselves to others, we lose focus on who we are. Everyone has their own strengths and their own weaknesses, and it is only when we accept everything about ourselves that will be truly successful.
Part with our shame. There are so many things from our past that keep us in a shameful state. And without knowing, we tend to act out those demons in our professional and personal lives even though it is the last thing we want to do. Shame damages the roots from which leadership grows, and leadership can only survive our inner injuries if they are acknowledged and let go.
Part with thinking we know it all. Many believe that if you are the leader you need to know everything, but the hard truth is this: It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts. As Socrates said, the only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing. Great leaders are constant learners and students of life and business.
Part with our painful past. It is out of our complex past that we have to find simplicity and meaning in the present. Our painful past has value, because the merit of all things lies in their difficulty. Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to discover.
Part with our ego. Leading, managing, guiding, mentoring from our ego keeps us from being the best we can be. I believe ego really means Edging Out Greatness. The best leaders leave their ego at the door; they part with the notion that they are self-important and they know for a fact that everyone has an important role when it comes to being successful.
Part with low self-esteem. I think that the power is the principle. The principle of moving forward as though you have confidence eventually gives you confidence when you look back and see what you’ve done. Low self-esteem keeps us from making strong decisions and caring for our true self. Self-confidence is not measured by our capabilities versus those of others, but by our own needs and achievements.
Part with the notion that we’re in control. Change has to come for life to struggle forward. We have come to terms with the fact that some things are beyond our control, and the power in parting comes from simply realizing that the only person we have control over is ourselves.
Lead From Within: Sometimes the power of parting comes in the willingness to let go of the life we’ve planned so we can have the life that is waiting for us.
N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
Additional Reading you might enjoy:
- 12 Successful Leadership Principles That Never Grow Old
- A Leadership Manifesto: A Guide To Greatness
- How to Succeed as A New Leader
- 12 of The Most Common Lies Leaders Tell Themselves
- 4 Proven Reasons Why Intuitive Leaders Make Great Leaders
- The One Quality Every Leader Needs To Succeed
- The Deception Trap of Leadership
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.
10. Mar, 2015
This is a wonderful post, Lolly. Every sentence hits home, hits hard, hits heart. Empowering. Bittersweet. Like life.
Thank you for touching us. Loving thoughts from the heart…
10. Mar, 2015
So much wisdom in one cup of blog, I am doing my best to consume it all! Thank you, Lolly. Love your wisdom.
13. Mar, 2015
I wholeheartedly agree with Panteli and John; an awesome post packed with truth and not opinion. This is wise counsel for all and I intend to share with my adult children. Thank you for one of your best posts ever!
18. Mar, 2015
Wow! What a powerful story …. having it’s own meanings and then taken deeper by your wise and wonderful words Lolly. Thank you
18. Mar, 2015
I had already begun the parting. Now, I better understand why.
22. Mar, 2015
What I love most about this article is the focus on introspection. So many article focus on others instead of the dialogue we as leaders need to nurture within ourselves.
26. Mar, 2015
Excellent advice…..many times hard to follow. However, until you do in fact let go, you are holding yourself prisoner, or you are allowing someone else or your past to do it.
You always come out the other side stronger and happier.
04. Apr, 2015
Simple (truths) but not easy.
23. May, 2015
Great article, simple wisdom.
13. Sep, 2015
As always, spot on. Amazing how a few simple ‘adjustments’ can empower to greatness.
29. Sep, 2015
Very useful article, Lolly. We need to keep in mind all these as we set out in our quest to do well in life. 🙂 Thanks~
16. Nov, 2015
Excellent article! Right on time.
17. Dec, 2015
very good read..and simple to understand, leading is not as easy as ppl make it seem to be.
25. Feb, 2016
Thank you for the insigjt truely profound , I need to start practicing
20. Apr, 2018
Thanks a lot for your good work