September 19

You Are Michelangelo: Sculpting Your Best Self | WT #69


Michelangelo once said, after completing his iconic sculpture David, “David was always there, in the marble. I just took away everything that wasn’t David.” This serves as a profound metaphor for self-improvement and leadership—David represents your best self, your ultimate potential, and the excess marble is all that keeps you from realizing it.

So, how do you go about discovering your “David,” i.e. your best self, hidden within? The first step is, to be honest, and introspective about who you are today. Take the time to visualize, perhaps in writing, what your best self looks like—physically, emotionally, professionally, and spiritually. Visualize this ideal version of yourself as clearly as you can. That’s your David, and it’s more real and achievable than you might think.

The Daily Process of Self-Improvement

You might wonder how to chip away at the marble that hides your inner David. The answer lies in authentic self-awareness and feedback. Creating a gap analysis between your ideal self and your current self is crucial. This requires being open to feedback from people who genuinely care for you—those who can objectively observe your strengths and weaknesses, offering insights you might have overlooked.

The Role of Temperament

Understanding your temperament plays a vital role in this journey. It’s akin to understanding the type of marble you’re working with. Different kinds of marble have various levels of resistance and ease when being sculpted, and knowing your temperament can help you understand how to most effectively chip away at what’s not serving you.

This isn’t just valuable information for your personal life. It holds tremendous professional value, too. Leaders who understand themselves can lead with empathy, resolve conflicts more effectively, and build stronger teams.

The People Who Make It Possible

Loved ones, mentors, and close colleagues hold the chisel and hammer that can help you. Their feedback, both positive and constructive, is the touchstone against which you can measure your progress. Surround yourself with people who want to see your inner David emerge and listen to them when they tell you what they see.

Taking the First Step

If you’re eager to start your journey toward realizing your best self, begin by learning more about your temperament. It’s the starting point for any transformation and a crucial aspect of becoming a strong, authentic leader. Understanding yourself is the cornerstone of genuine leadership and the first step in bringing out the greatness in others.

At the Authentic Leadership Foundation, we offer a range of tools that can assist you in this transformative journey. You’re already in the right place to start chipping away at the marble. Your David awaits.


About the author 

Darren Smith

Darren Smith is Co-Founder of the Authentic Leadership Institute. He is a native Texan and a graduate of Dallas Jesuit and Texas A&M University. Over the past 25 years, Darren has visited 35 countries and led 100 strategy programs. He and his wife have five children.


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