Why Death of the Old Self is Critical to Leadership

Life and Death and LeadershipI’ve been writing these last few weeks about how your ability to be a great leader not only lies within you, it must come directly from within you, finding its source in the fabric of your being.

This is because, ultimately, the way you lead is a reflection of who you are at your innermost level.

But sometimes we lose sight of – and connection to – who we are at our innermost level. What gets in our way includes layers of old belief systems that we adopted from others that were never ours to begin with, or emotions like jealousy and feelings of insecurity that we picked up along the way from others who are plagued with them, and strapped onto our backs. These layers of lack and negativity were not ours at our beginning, and they do not reflect who we are at our innermost level.

Eventually, if we want to lead as our True Selves, we have to let go of all of this baggage.

Life and Death

I have a friend who has an ambigram tattoo on his forearm; depending on how you look at it, it says either “Life” or “Death.” The juxtaposition of these words has a very personal meaning to him. When I look at it, I see “transformation.” I see death of the old self empowering life as the new self. And what’s fascinating to me is he is someone who helps people transform their lives in a very personal way.

So many of us today are seeking to transform ourselves as individuals and as leaders to a higher level of consciousness and effectiveness. To make a lasting difference in the world. In order to reach this goal we have to reconnect with who we truly are. We have to let go of what is no longer ours to carry, including old belief systems that hold us back, negativity from others, fears and, importantly, immersion in “lack” that takes the form of insecurity, jealousy, low expectations, false martyrdom and a glass-half-empty outlook on the world.

We have to recognize that we have everything within us, at our core, that we need to shine. We don’t need to try to be someone else or be linked to someone else to be worthy of success. We are worthy simply because of our divine nature.

This is terribly difficult to do. Oftentimes we become very comfortable in our own layers of lack or insecurity, and even comfortable with our fears because we recognize them as our own. But once we do the work - the exceptionally difficult and yet beautiful work - of letting go of these restrictive layers, of allowing what was not ours to die, we are finally free to give life to our new self.

To our True Self.

And then, to lead and change the world.


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Photo of Life & Death by humble newbie.


  1. In so much of the coaching I have the privilege of doing, I find the practical description you outline to be so true. Lately I’ve spent a fair amount of time working with people on the topic of WHO versus what, leading people to get connected to their authentic self and lead from there. Fear is often a barrier because some believe if they find their authentic self, they won’t like what they learn. However, for those committed to leadership, there should be no other option. Leading from the ego is a recipe for disaster. Thanks for this piece. A recent piece I wrote on WHO versus what is at: http://bit.ly/PrjKKU

    • Duane,

      Thank you so much for the support and for sharing your article with me. You make some wonderful points and absolutely agree with you that often times fear of not liking what we discover can hold us back. And yet, at our core, we are all born pure and have the power of forgiveness – for ourselves and others. I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to comment here!

  2. Lisa – your piece struck a real chord with me. A couple of years ago I embarked on a coaching programme sponsored by my very forward thinking boss who recognised something that even I couldn’t see. The upshot was a more confident, competent and successful relationship manager. However getting there must have felt torturous for my coach. I constantly (and often quite dramatically) complained that I was stuck in a role and actually it just ‘was not the real me’.. We spent a few sessions on trying to find the Jayne within. We looked at strengths, reflected on me at my best, listed my values and motivations – I still stuck it out despite not being me. Ultimately the habit of being someone else was easier to manage than the very scary step of changing things. I’m happy to say I did finally go for it and I’m working in a way that embraces the real me. Thanks for your article – all I can say to anyone reading is that it’s worth the scary phase. I’ve never been happier. Thanks

    • Jayne,

      I can’t tell you how elated I am to read this! You sound entirely empowered – what a beautiful thing! Congratulations on reaching your destination, but more importantly on working through the difficult journey. I love hearing how it has paid off for you! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your own experience here with the community! Wishing you continued success and happiness. :)


  1. […] source of all your power is your connection to yourself, your True Self. For some, this is stating the obvious. For most of us, we have lived our lives not even knowing it […]

  2. […] roles starts with how we see and love ourselves. It all starts inside us as we connect to our True Selves and lead from […]

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