Wholehearted Leadership

Wholehearted leadership

Erin Tetarenko of Impact Australia shares her personal journey on Wholehearted Leadership.

It’s been nine years since I first learned a lesson that would impact my life forever, one that would completely transform the way I live and lead.

This story is a reflection of a time I tried to ‘be it all’ and let it come at a great sacrifice to self. It was a busy time for me, a result of my choosing. I was driven and ambitious with a continuous need to achieve and an inner dialogue that voiced ‘it’s not enough’.

Too much ambiguity, loss of control, emotional exposure and the likes scared the sh*t out of me. I found solace in pushing myself, so I did.

This story climaxes at a point where my mind and life got so busy that my body started showing signs of breakdown. I wasn't taking care of myself. Actually, I was denying myself. I was numbing my feelings, filling every spare moment with doing and never letting myself rest. Eventually, stress-related ailments forced me to slow down.

From this space, a lot of reflection and growth emerged. I discovered the ways in which my judgement and idealistic expectations on self can influence my fears, my choices and my health. I realised that vulnerability is courageous, imperfection is human, and that the worst kind of failure is not being true to self.

Since becoming a coach, I’ve been introduced to Brene Brown’s research on wholehearted leaders. She’s spent the past sixteen years studying courage, vulnerability, empathy, and shame. This led her to explore the concept of wholehearted leadership. Her messages echo my story of guilt, shame, and eventually, finding the courage to be imperfect. It’s no wonder her work resonates.

On a recent offsite program, the Impact Australia team explored Brene’s research through the foundations of wholehearted leadership: vulnerability, courage, self-compassion, worthiness and connection. The intention was to explore and develop love and respect for self and move towards living more wholeheartedly. It was an opportunity to become more accepting and appreciative of self and more prepared to bring our whole selves to all that we do and those who we connect with. Together, we explored the wholehearted topics within our own lives and shared our findings among the group.

Whilst being on my own journey and engaging with the wholehearted research, I've come to believe that to grow as a leader, I need to grow within. Leading others and leading myself stem from the same source. In ‘Rising Strong’ Brene wrote, “We can’t be ‘all in’ if only parts of us show up. If we’re not leading with our whole, integrated hearts, we’re doing it half-heartedly.”

If wholehearted leadership is an aspiration for you, the research is worthy of exploration in your own life and I would recommend taking any opportunities available to learn more.