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Leadership Development: How “Different” becomes “Unique”

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A butterfly flitting around a business convention caught my eye and held me transfixed.

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Everything else at this winter meeting was brown, grey, dark blue and black, except for that orange and yellow swirl of color.

I was getting ready to start the workshop based on my book “GUTSY: How Women Leaders Make Change,” and the butterfly landed in a seat near the back of the room.

I was fascinated.

I was curious about who she was and what gave the courage to stand out from the crowd, at least in her choice of clothing. I wondered if that courage was more than cosmetic.

When she had an opportunity to speak, I was not disappointed.

Catherine was living in Atlanta studying for her MBA. She had grown up in Ghana and was determined to bring leadership to her people. As she spoke she smoothed the dress, did a pirouette and said, “The women of my town made this dress for me. They got a bunch of American and French magazines and fashioned this dress in the beautiful colors we love so much and made it in this modern style.”

The women gave sighs of approval and she continued, “At first I was unsure about wearing this to a business meeting. And then I thought that if I am seen as different, so what, that happens to me all the time. I still feel the difference my very dark skin color makes in this country. What I want is to be seen as unique, a one of a kind. After all isn't that what leadership is about? To stand out from the crowd and make a difference?”

With that Catherine sat down.

Her GUTSY comments opened the room for a deep discussion about what it takes to risk stepping out, to keep going and keep growing. It is what the world needs now. How are YOU taking that risk to be the wonderful unique person you are meant to be?

Think about this when you make your New Year’s resolutions.



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