If you are trying to figure out who you are as a leader and what you believe, it is wise to go backwards before you go forward. That’s because your current beliefs are often a product of or reaction against parental influence.
When you were a kid, you likely thought or said, “I will not behave anything like that when I grow up.” Many times you succeed with such resolutions, but other times you find yourself behaving exactly like your parents or siblings.
Your parents likely held and still hold a lot of sway. They are almost god-like to children under the age of five, in the most formative years. That’s why victims of abuse at the hands of their parents sometimes have trouble locating blame (and even blame themselves). And it’s why people who’ve enjoyed a lot of success often credit their parents.
The Apple Doesn’t Fall from the Tree Exercise
Answer the following questions, then put a check in the box under Father and Mother if they share this belief.
|What is your religion (if any)?|
|What is your political affiliation?|
|What is your work ethic?|
|What is your behavior with money?|
|What is your imagined perfect job?|
|What is your behavior around food?|
|What does a healthy relationship look like to you?|
|How do you deal with adversity?|
|Are you abstract or concrete?|
|What are your ideas around fitness?|
Chances are, you’ll notice considerable overlap between beliefs between you and one or both of your parents. You might also find some strongly oppositional beliefs (reactions against your parents’ behaviors or beliefs).
Once you have completed this exercise, work hard to reclaim your own point of view regardless of your parents’ beliefs. You can begin this process of reclaiming your personal authority by answering these questions (some of which are existential, some of which are situational):
- Who am I really?
- Why do I believe this?
- When have I been here before?
- What looks familiar?
- What about my past is helping me, and what is hurting me?
- What do I want to believe instead, and why?
Ask and answer these questions often, until you feel like you have a sense of personal authority.
It’s easier to lead others when you know what you believe and why. How has parental influence affected you?