You are the most powerful tool you possess. You can be an instrument for change and positive good. Yet how often do we attempt to stand outside ourselves and think about the “use of self” as a tool?

Almost two decades ago I attended an awesome workshop at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland titled “Self of Instrument”. Most of the participants were professional therapists or organizational behavior experts, many with long experience working with individuals and institutions to create positive change. While an outlier as a CEO and entrepreneur, I snuck in via a phone interview, my three degrees and passion for leadership; convincing them I was a qualified participant who could benefit and perhaps more importantly, contribute a meaningful point of view.

The deeper our personal understanding of ourselves (i.e. Our EQ or Emotional Quotation), the more powerful we are as change agents. When we align both our actions and behaviors, our words and our body language, with our core beliefs and values, we are authentic and “This authenticity is visible to those who would be followers and companions on the journey to the desired future, and encourages the development of trust between the leader and the followers.”

You MUST know who you are, what you stand for AND what you “evoke/provoke” in others (i.e. the true meaning of any message you send lies in the response you provoke). Is the message received, the message you wanted to send? Are you the person you want to be? Do others see you as you see yourself? (This does NOT mean you hand your self-esteem over to others, simply that you accept their view as one more data point to be evaluated) Developing self-awareness and self-management is key (see Daniel Goleman’s Emotional intelligence and the concepts of social-awareness and relationship management).

Learning to think of one’s self as an “instrument of change” and to consciously develop the skills of self-knowledge and social awareness was a powerful paradigm shift.

Closing Quotes

“Followers learn by observing the positive values, psychological states, behaviors and self-development being modeled by the authentic leader.” – Debbie Kennedy, Self as Instrument Using a Leadership Lens & Coaching Application

“You have the ability to make a huge difference if you are willing to devote the time to develop the tools you need to be an effective instrument of change – to develop your “self as instrument”.  – Jim Elliott, Blog Post, 9/2/10