At Leading by DESIGN we’re on a mission to help West Michigan become the hotbed of the best leaders in the country. A core to our work is helping leaders explore their unique design so they can make their most positive mark in the world.

When you look deeply inside you learn that each of us has a unique design and, as such, it is good to discover it, develop it, and lead from it. While there are many different angles for looking at yourself, we use a model that points to five key characteristics: our beliefs, our values, our passions, our natural talents and our natural ways of processing the world. We also believe there is a sixth component comprised of our unique dysfunctions, of which everyone has. Learning about all of these aspects of our design, and learning to develop and live into them, is a lifelong journey that can bring great impact and deep joy. Seeing someone who has learned to live into their unique design is to see someone that is comfortable in their own skin. Those that live this way don’t appear arrogant and prideful, but they have a deep and often quiet confidence in who they are and what they’re doing.

We now know that much of a person’s design is cast in stone through their DNA. How much is determined in this way, nobody quite knows. The rest of a person’s design is then nurtured through experiences and learning; again, we’re not sure how much comes from that process. Many science-minded people start with a guess of fifty percent nature (DNA) and fifty percent nurture. We also know that a great deal of this nurturing process happens in the first few years life. This determines a great deal of how your brain will develop and work, almost like the establishment of your own personal operating system.

Additional learning over the past thirty years shows that some of the apparent hard wiring established in early childhood can be rewired through very hard work, either because it’s been forced on us by some kind of illness or injury, or because we decide to take on the huge challenge of doing it out of choice. One of the books that opened my eyes to this possibility is The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge MD. It’s a fascinating book.

So how does all of this relate to leadership? Many of us, if not all, have a great opportunity to impact the world through our design and through our choices. When you do the work to discover your design and leverage the great parts of it, while also accepting and minimizing the parts you can’t change, this will optimize your chance to make a real difference in the world as a leader. Our mission is to help West Michigan become the hotbed of the best leaders in the country. We believe that helping our local leaders live into their design, and become comfortable in their own skin, is core to making this happen.

John Maxwell was the first I heard describe leadership as influence, nothing more and nothing less. There are so many ways to influence others, either for good or bad, and either intentionally or not. We are driven to help West Michigan leaders maximize their positive influence by helping them discover and then leverage their unique design.

One of our key tools in this work comes through asking meaningful questions like, “What will your life be about? Will it be based on years of intentional growth and positive influence or years of stagnation and very little influence, or worse yet, negative influence?”

How great would it be if a majority of leaders in our neck of the woods could realize much of their unique design and then leverage it for the world’s good? We already have so many great examples to emulate, let’s take it the next step and help West Michigan become to leadership what Nashville became to country music.

Lead a great day!