This past week while commuting from Newark Airport into Manhattan I was having a conversation with a colleague of mine. I shared with her a little unknown history about me…

About 10 years ago I had aspirations of being a world reknown club dj/producer. In fact, for about 2 years I was traveling all over North America playing in clubs while producing records that can still be bought online today (You’ll have to email me for more details).

After sharing the story she looked at me and said that sounds like “The Lie” from the game 3 truths and a lie. Insinuating that by knowing the person that I am today that there is no way that she would have believed that was the person I once was.

Crazy, because it most certainly was me. At that point I still had hair and I’m not sure I knew what a CEO was.

This made me think a lot about many things such as how we can change so much throughout the course of our lives, and it also made me wonder about the assumptions that we make about the people we know. Further, what we really don’t know.

Do we too often assume we know too much?

When I went back to school to earn my MBA I had a leadership professor that used to say “You think you see through others so well, what makes you think they can’t see through you.”

A profound maxim that made me realize that leadership must be genuine or chances are your not so real ways will soon be discovered making leadership that much more difficult.

While profound indeed, this maxim has a flaw. It represents only what people see now. While now does reflect a still frame in time, it often neglects the who we were, and who we will become.

One of the things that we rarely consider is that people in many ways are fluid and life is almost certainly in a state of constant change. We as individuals make gradual change almost on a daily basis and the sum of those changes can make us nearly unrecognizable over a greater period of time.

In the analogy of 3 Truths and a Lie, the Lie serves as a metaphor for what we don’t know. As leaders, we are playing a dangerous game when we don’t consider the whole picture. In the worlds we live, some things are indeed obvious while others not so much.

We are constantly playing 3 truths and a lie. We are constantly scanning our environments to determine both for ourselves and for our people to determine the following…

  • Who were we (What made us who we are)?
  • Who are we (The person in the mirror today)?
  • What do we strive to become (The person we hope to see in the mirror)?

While all incredibly important questions, we are often forced to assume so much about those we lead in order to inspire great results. And while assumption often is given a bad reputation, it is at times needed in order to keep up with our obligations. (I confess)

Leadership isn’t just giving…Leadership isn’t just taking…Leadership isn’t just Speaking…Leadership isn’t just listening…

Meaningful leadership is all of the above; And while the philosophy of servant leadership is one that I believe in (I work for the people), I also recognize that I must be working with a purpose based on the questions above. Because people will see through anything not genuine about my actions today, but also they seek alignment in what we all seek to become.

To lead we must self actualize constantly, for we cannot successfully lead others without clear understanding of ourselves and our direction.

This means to be a leader we must know what we do not know. This includes knowing that there is no way we can know everything about our employees, friends, loved ones, and even ourselves. This state of constant discovery must keep us grounded and more importantly keep us listening.

We all live our lives surrounded by 3 truths and a Lie (Or a Few), but can we always identify the lie?