Intuition, Leadership and Your Remarkable Story
My work with entrepreneurs is fundamentally about supporting and optimizing them as leaders. Sure I have lots of experience in putting together things like marketing plans, business plans, setting up facilities to do business, customer service and the rest of the more or less technical stuff. But my real passion has to do with leadership and how choices are made.
Leaders make choices about things like: what matters; how to put together plans and execute them; and how to deal with both successes and failures. I made a choice many years ago to open a restaurant. Choices quite obviously don’t just determine the path you are going to take, they determine the path you aren’t going to take.
In my case, the path not chosen was the path of finishing college – I left college after my junior year never to return. Instead of senior year, I opened a restaurant on Cape Cod (Old Mexico). Good choice? Bad choice?
I guess it depends on how you look at it. Two leadership possibilities here: one, logically choose what seems like a good outcome (goal oriented) and let that guide you. Two, be aware of what your intuition is telling you along the way (energy oriented) and let that guide you. The first one would have had me finishing college – the second had me opening a restaurant.
Here’s my bottom line which you might think is a little crazy – I think that generally speaking, you have cooler stories to tell if you choose based on an intuitive guide than if you plan and organize your life around ideas also known as goals. In other words, my own leadership style is to follow my intuition rather than to be fundamentally guided by a logical idea.
As a result of that energetic choosing process, I have some remarkable stories to tell, for example about the time I arrived in the morning at my restaurant and while getting the place ready to open I found a bra under one of the tables, hmmmm? – or the time one afternoon when the place was empty and in walked Tony Bennett with his girlfriend. I had background music playing and an instrumental of one of his songs came on which he promptly began singing to his girl. I literally felt like I was in a movie.
Is it really a remarkable story that I found a bra under a table or heard Tony Bennett sing a love song to his girlfriend? The bra thing made me laugh pretty hard and imagine what was going on there the night before, and hearing Tony sing a love song to his real girlfriend was surreal. That’s good enough for me and constitutes stories worth retelling, i.e. re-markable.
Did these experiences lead to anything or explain anything – not really. Could something similar have happened if I had finished my senior year in college? Probably. Would the stories be as cool?
There’s really no way to know – but I do know this. I have a lot of stories to tell that I think are really cool (really, they only need to be cool to me to count). Here’s something James Carse said about stories: “if we cannot tell a story about what happened to us, nothing has happened to us.”
What I have found is that when I allow myself to be guided by intuition, my stories tend to be inherently valuable because my choices are inherently valuable and don’t rely on an outcome for that value – they have remarkable value to me just as they are.
Often times when I hear people telling their stories they do so as an explanation or justification of something that lies beyond the story itself. For me, remarkable stories are remarkable because they have inherent value to the teller regardless of what came before or after and regardless of whether they were painful or not. It is in my opinion, that inherent value that reveals us to each other.
Practice telling people stories that are remarkable just because they feel that way to you. It will tend to reveal more about you and connect you with others more than any explanation or description that you might offer – for better or for worse.