A Bit More on Empathy

In season 2 of my Fearless Creative Leadership podcast, we’re going to highlight each week one of 13 themes we’ve identified that are crucial for leading and unlocking creativity.

This week’s theme is empathy. You’ll hear more in my conversation with Alain Sylvain of Sylvain Labs.

Business requires predictability. Creativity requires unpredictability. The tension between those two forces keeps leaders of creative businesses up at night.

There’s a third tension that is part of the everyday challenge of leading a successful business. Who we are and how we show up. Both as human beings and as leaders. 

That is a force unto itself, influenced for sure by the day to day realities of running a dynamic business in a fast-changing, unpredictable world, but equally shaped and guided by all those things that we experienced before we got to this point in our journey.

The best companies are empathetic. They create room for their people to look at themselves honestly and openly, to recognize who they are today and how they want to show up tomorrow. Those companies recognize that we are all aspiring to be better versions of ourselves. That we are never the finished product.

I was told once that there is research that claims that every human being reaches self actualization before death. For the vast majority of people, I’m told, it happens in that moment before death. For a few, it happens early enough in life that they can use the confidence, clarity and wisdom that comes from self-actualization to relentlessly help others. 

Whether the idea of self actualization appeals to you or not, the desire to make a bigger difference is the mark of the most successful leaders. They want to discover two things. What matters to other people. And what they themselves are capable of. And the very best ones, want to help the people they influence to live better lives. 

Steve Jobs is the most creative leader of the last fifty years. And perhaps ever. His influence will be felt for decades, and probably centuries.

Steve Jobs final words, as reported by his sister were simply this. “Oh wow, oh wow, oh, wow.” 

No one alive knows what he saw, or felt or thought in that moment. Eventually, maybe all of us will. I don't know. No one does.

The only thing we all know is this.

In the end we all wind up dead. How we spend the time between now and then can help others a little or a lot. It’s your decision. You’re the leader.