Who is sculpting your leadership?

Michelangelo said, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”

How could we become a masterpiece?

Let’s start with what we can know: identify what resides at our core and ask the following questions:

  • What are values will we not compromise?
  • What are the activities that energize us most?
  • When do we feel the most alive?

Becoming a sculptor

As leaders we can learn much from artists who release beauty into the world through their work. Let’s explore how Michelangelo’s idea helps us understand how to unleash the leader within.

Start with the block of stone. Happily, we don’t need to go far to get it. That’s because the stone is you (it’s us)! In this metaphor, we begin sculpting ourselves with the intent of releasing our innate giftings.  We recognize that we each have something special inside; a way that we do things that only we can do.  When we amplify what is special about us, change happens.

Some giftings take work to release and others require others to activate them in our lives.

Getting started: Begin with what you can do yourself

It is our first responsibility to take steps to get our best selves engaged in the world to make a difference. Taking the tools of the sculptor: the chisel and mallet. These tools symbolize us cutting away known impediments to our growth. We concentrate our efforts in ways that help people to see more of who we truly are on the inside.

Sculpting ourselves

Who are you? (Identity):

Commit to taking responsibility to live the best vision of ourselves. No one can do this for us. When we commit to this practice, there is less chiseling work that needs to be done. Going forward we choose to adopt behaviors and traits consistent with who we are becoming.

We accept that we may never obtain our best, but strive to become a person that consistently adds our greatest value to people and causes that are bigger than our own self-interest.

How can you speed up growth? (Focus):

Once we have set our target, we concentrate purposefully on it. In his book the Essentialism, Greg McKeown introduces the concept of the disciplined pursuit of less. Applying his thinking works in helping us refine what makes us a leader worth following. What are you great at? He says, “… living by design, not by default” is the way of the Essentialist. We believe that focusing on the important will help us to go further, faster in our leadership development.

How to reach others? (Impact):

What a paradox.  We can’t help others until others have helped us first. As we have done the hard work of embracing our identity and focusing our efforts other may take notice. When our loved ones see what we are becoming some may want to help us. We find that it is through the deep caring and trust of another that our full gifting capacity can be released.

The ones that love you

As we look to refine our best selves, we will need help because we all have blind spots. Others see them already and are happy to point them out. Don’t let just anyone work on them with you. Only those that you trust and love you get this opportunity. Expect it to hurt. Expect some mistakes as they aren’t perfect either. Together you can make some progress. Don’t give the chisel to those whom don’t have your best interests at heart. We must be intentional on who we let speak into our lives.

The one that made you

Many believe that each person is a spirit.  A soul that lives eternally. In this view, along with everything else we have experienced, the maker is the one that truly knows us best and how craft us into what we were designed for.  When we hold to this view, we have hope that even the parts of ourselves that we mess up, that others damage, and even undiscovered capabilities can be restored and refined into something beautiful.


Sculpting ourselves into our best selves we can enables us to do more of what we were made to do. The work that we were destined to perform from the beginning.

We understand that what we do isn’t for everybody, but is done for somebody. So now back to the question: Who will you let sculpt you?

Shepherding: The art of becoming the leader others want to follow.