Whether you’re a leader in the corporate world, your local community, or a tech startup, you know the pressure of having the answers. It’s what people expect, right?
While this is the pressure you might feel from community members, donors, stakeholders or investors, it’s not always what’s true. We’re human. We’re insecure, unsure and uncomfortable, no matter what our role might ask of us.
But these are most often the things we try to mask to appear more confident or competent, hoping others will trust us, invest in our ideas, or promote us. As a result, we’ve gotten more disconnected, keeping our true selves separate from who we are at work.
Entrepreneur Michael Brody-Waite is working to change that.
Brody-Waite is an entrepreneur, nonprofit leader and person in long-term recovery from addiction for more than 15 years. Having founded the recently acquired startup, InQuicker in 2010, he now leads the nonprofit Nashville Entrepreneur Center, where he mentors aspiring entrepreneurs looking to follow a similar pattern of success.
According to Brody-Waite, the same principles that saved his life from addiction have transformed his experience as a leader – principles like honesty, community and unconditional love, to name a few.
“These are the principles I learned when I entered recovery. And when I started to use them at work, I saw tremendous results,” he says.” But I wasn’t doing anything special, I was just doing what recovering addicts do.”
In an inspiring talk at TEDxNashville, Brody-Waite describes 3 principles that changed his life and leadership, urging all entrepreneurs and leaders to do the same.
He calls them the principles of inner success.
- Be rigorously authentic.
Weaknesses, faults, and fears included, he says, adding that these are topics rarely discussed by leaders. “At first, I thought my team wouldn’t trust me or feel confident in me as a leader if I talked about my weaknesses or insecurities. But instead, they all started doing the same thing, and it made our entire team more honest and accountable to each other,” he explains.
He also adds that being honest with stakeholders usually led to greater trust, a risk that was always worth it.
- Surrender the outcome.
Leaders are accountable for results, which often causes pressure, anxiety and a desire for control. According to Brody-Waite, “You can’t always control the outcome, but you can control your side of the street.”
Giving up control can be nerve-wracking — and could feel like it’s against everything you know about leadership. But in Brody-Waite’s experience, it kept him focused on what he could control, while cutting out a false sense of control of everything else.
- Do uncomfortable work.
According to Brody-Waite, these principles aren’t easy. He also says that’s the point.
“So much of recovery is uncomfortable,” he says. “I’ve noticed that we as humans often won’t do positive things because they’re scary or uncomfortable. That choice can keep us from doing what is right. The idea of walking into a room full of addicts and admitting that I was an addict, too, used to give me dread in my stomach. But because I was honest, gave up control of the outcome and did uncomfortable work, I’m alive and I’m here now.”
Today, in addition to leading the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, Brody-Waite founded Leader Confidential, a venture he hopes will bring the principles of inner success to leaders and entrepreneurs through coaching and community-building workshops.
And while Brody-Waite’s commitment to transparency started in his recovery from addiction, he says that people who aren’t in recovery can find value in these principles, too.
“I had a unique incentive because my life was on the line,” he says. “But anyone can reap the same benefits I did. They just have to be willing to get honest and do something different than they have before.”
Brody-Waite believes these principles can change the way people live, lead and experience work — but it all starts with you, the leader, founder or entrepreneur.
“We have to be authentic. How many people are you in a personal relationship with, that if they weren’t authentic with you, you would still continue to trust, love and adore?” he says. “Human beings need human relationships. Everyone is craving human connection in a disconnected world. In a company, CEOs can level the playing field for everybody. If a CEO or leader is honest and humble about his or her weaknesses, it gives other people the opportunity to do the same.”
Follow me on Twitter (@tori_utley) or Facebook for the latest news and stories on social entrepreneurs and the organizations they create.