Leadership24 May 2014 03:32 pm

When a person feels truly seen by you, they will do anything for you. Leaders create highly motivated organizations by learning how to deeply see other people’s gifts.

How do we learn to see our colleagues’ greatest gifts?

We are each perceiving more than we know.  The people around us are constantly putting out subtle signals about who they are.  We can train ourselves to notice these signals and translate them into an understanding of the essential gift the other is carrying.

In our coaching work, we’ve developed a way for people to hone their natural ability to read other people, and specifically to read what is best in others. For this we use the same radar that we use more typically to look for the threats that we need to be aware of when navigating complex or new environments.

The first step is to switch on the capacity to be interested, enthusiastic, even passionate for discovering the natural gifts of people we encounter.  Some simply light up at the invitation to investigate the strengths and talents of others. Others may need to be persuaded by the practicality of how powerful this is, how much gets done with so much less effort, when people feel seen.

The following four-step method will develop this ability further:

  1. Think about what the person has achieved, what creative outcomes tend to happen at their hand? Identify common themes.
  2. Ask someone to speak about his or her own gifts using questions like “Tell me about a time when you were giving your best stuff.” People are often hesitant. If you need to prompt them, use examples from the ‘Think’ step above.
  3. Feel what happens in your own being when you are around them.  What qualities seem to be more inspired or available to you in their presence?
  4. Write your articulation of the benefit that is in the world because of this person. To do this, you distill the achievements, stories and perceptions that you gleaned from the first three steps into their essence.

Some of us find it easier than others to distill a lot of data to its essence. Use of poetic metaphor can be helpful. For example, if you were to articulate this benefit as something that occurs in nature, what would that be? Or, if it were a nourishing food, what would it be?

When you can articulate for yourself the gifts of another, you find yourself invested in their greatness, in the fulfillment of their potential. We all feel this instinctively. We know whether someone gets us or not, and are uplifted by it. We want to serve those who will be most happy for our achievements, those who most clearly see our gift.

Practice the Think-Ask-Feel-Write method with people in your life, and see what happens for you and them.

Leadership10 Dec 2013 04:26 pm

Unlocking your full potential is about coming to know the many facets of yourself. Most of us treat parts of ourselves as if they were “not me.” For example, in a recent coaching session in which I was being coached, I encountered a part of myself that feels disempowered, shamed, and small.  I don’t like to think of myself that way. And there’s a part of myself that is critical, telling me I am not good enough.  There’s also a part of myself that expresses wisdom and empowers others in ways that I am shy to own.

When we begin a coaching assignment with a leader, he or she invariably initiates the coaching effort by listing deficits they believe exist in who and how they are. A good coach knows hidden strengths will be found in these supposed deficits. As we work together, one split off part after another is discovered to be a valid aspect of the full self that is emerging.

In my case, the Small Part that I mentioned above opens me to my tender, loving self. The Inner Critic to my strength. The Great Empowerer in me shows me the gift that is mine to bring. And so on. As we go along, we become ever more aware of the rich depth and range of who we are.

Yet, there is a still deeper discovery.  While it had been emerging over time, this landed for me in a most potent way one day in the woods up in the Colorado hills. It suddenly became unmistakably apparent that all I see and feel is an unbroken whole underlying and including everything.  I realized there was no separation.  What I had previously thought of as a separate “me”—my body and its personality—is just as much an expression of this whole as anything I was seeing around me.  And everything around me is simply an expression of who and what I am.

This is true for everyone.

Whatever favorite self or selves we have thought of as “me,” they are found to be contained in this larger whole, in awareness itself.  No matter how we feel in any moment, or what part we’re playing out, this awareness is simply free and present, an easeful respite right at the source of all activity going on around and inside us.

Not just the source of what I think as “me” but the source of all.

It is a endless emergence.  We continually discover more about ourselves, own and embody more parts, more of our full potential.  At the same time, we recognize ever more deeply the ease, strength and intelligence inherent in the whole of which all the contents of our awareness are parts.

It is a truly fulfilling way to live.


David Lesser is an executive coach in Northern California who has worked with hundreds of CEOs, guiding them and their organizations in mature self-emergence for over 25 years. Please visit SelfEmergence.com for more info.

Leadership13 Aug 2013 12:38 pm

Leadership requires self-awareness – a deep understanding of who you are and how you come across.   Without it you will be perceived as naïve, narrow, untrustworthy and missing the point.

When working with people who get the feedback that they have low self-awareness, I usually find they aren’t actually deficient in anything. It is just that they are paying attention elsewhere.

For example, one person had been through a major growth spurt in which he became much more openhearted, felt his feelings more deeply, and connected with others to a greater degree than ever before.  But he began getting the feedback that he wasn’t so aware of how others were seeing him.

During a similarly expansive period of growth, another client’s inspiring leadership capability increased significantly.  She became very interested in purpose and values, and inspiring others to approach their work with this kind of vision.  In the feedback work we did, she also was told she wasn’t very aware of her impact on others.

In both cases it was not about some innate deficit of awareness, but rather a matter of attention and perspective.  People can get so focused on others or on how things could be in the future that they lose sight of how things actually are in the present.

How do we grow awareness?  I suggest viewing ourselves from a different perspective.  Imagine you are dealing with someone who has the qualities that you hear or suspect other people are ascribing to you.  Do this regardless of whether you believe these perceptions of you are fair and accurate. As soon as you see yourself from another perspective, your awareness has grown. You begin to see the impact you are creating. You begin to feel how others perceive you, and what others are going through when relating to you.

Try this:

  1. Write down the names of three people with whom you interact regularly.
  2. Imagine yourself looking at you from their perspective.
  3. Write down what you think they see, and how they feel relating to you.

As a leader, having the ability to look at yourself and your situations from diverse perspectives can help head off problems before they even begin.  Conflict, deflated motivation, and missed opportunities may all be brewing around you in ways you will only see if you loosen your viewpoint and allow it to shift.  What do you look like through the eyes of others?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.


David Lesser is an executive coach in Northern California who has worked with hundreds of CEOs, guiding them and their organizations in mature self-emergence for over 25 years. Please visit SelfEmergence.com for more info.

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