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Finding brilliance in yourself – and others!

Finding brilliance in yourself

By Sandra Wiley

Have you ever come across a topic you hear over and over from your friends, peers or in trade publications, one that just keeps bubbling to the top of conversations? One in particular has been buzzing around in my circle of influence recently, and that is the ability – or inability – for leaders to find the brilliance in themselves or in their team. We are so conditioned to look for all the things that are wrong with ourselves and with those in our firm that we miss the brilliance within and around us.

Take a few minutes to reflect on the following words from Eric Mich’el Leventhal: “Our children are only as brilliant as we allow them to be.” Now, replace the word “children” with the words “employees” or “self,” and ask if you are spending time looking for or helping people see the brilliance in who they are.

Start your personal assessment by looking at your own life and finding and growing the brilliance inside you.

You’ve got skill
Identify the things you are really good at, then become even better at them. Skills can be:

  • Cognitive or learned. These are the things that you learned in school and you enjoyed learning. What classes did you like most? Don’t focus on the things you did not do well. Instead, focus on those that created confidence for you.
  • Affective or personality driven. These are the skills that form your character and temperament. Are you an introvert or extrovert? That is part of your brilliance.
  • Conative or instinctive. You have a built-in, instinctive way of liking to work. Embrace it. You might like diving into the facts, or maybe you shine at organization. Perhaps you naturally create new ideas for services, or you enjoy working with materials. Whatever you gravitate to naturally, keep going in that direction.

Give more than you get
Brilliance comes from within, but you will personally grow when you help others. Coaching, mentoring and building relationships in which you can be the guiding light for others and add value through your wisdom and knowledge are important to you and to those who are significant to you.

Show gratitude
Show gratitude to others, both within the firm and outside the firm. I challenge leaders to think about the person on their team who is most valuable to them, someone who, if that person gave notice, they would be most disappointed to lose. Then I ask them to think about the last time they told the person he or she is valuable and appreciated. It is amazing how many have “that look” on their face, and it is clear that they have forgotten to show gratitude, even to the person who means the most to them at the office.

Go out on a limb
When is the last time you made a commitment to do something risky? I’m not talking about skydiving, but rather going after a higher level of client than you are used to, exploring a new niche that you have been interested in or volunteering for an organization that you have been thinking about. Brilliance comes from always pushing yourself harder than you did the day before – take a risk!

Think big
Some would say, “Think outside the box and think big.” I would challenge that if you want to be brilliant, never get inside the box. You can learn big-picture thinking – although for some it will come naturally. A brilliant person will eradicate from their language phrases such as, “We have always done it that way,” or “That will never work.” Practice looking at the future and seeing yourself and your firm in a positive and successful light.

Work ethic is not dead
Do the work. When you combine skill, relationships, gratitude and new ideas, it is still not enough unless you are also ready to do the work. Continue your education. Hang out with people smarter than you. Then put in the time on the right things and dedicate yourself to being better every day. Brilliance is not an end, it is a journey.

After you have assessed and begun working on yourself, teach these lessons to your team. You will be amazed at how they respond, and how brilliance will bubble to the top for your entire firm.


Sandra WileySandra Wiley is president of Boomer Consulting Inc.