Travis Chapman initially posted this article on his LinkedIn, and we found it to be an incredible write up! Travis is currently an Instructor at the US Naval Academy and somebody we highly respect.
Thank you, Travis, for this review, as well as your permission for us to repost it here!
I had a surprise during a conversation with the co-leader of our academic department. We were discussing some challenges we’ve faced as a group during a time of uncertainty and change, and he mentions his observation of my emotional intelligence skills. Now, I don’t often hear any one say, “You know, Bob is really intelligent…emotionally.” So to hear the phrase emotional intelligence alone was surprising. But I smiled and acknowledged the compliment, simply replying, “Well, I’ve had a lot of help understanding who I am and living out of that identity.”
One recent resource that I can say, without any reservation or qualification, has helped my understanding of emotional intelligence and transformational leadership, helped validate many of my professional & personal experiences and feelings, resonated with my story, and is helping me live out of my identity, is Mark Freier’s The Choice to Show Up.
Full disclosure: I know Mark. I’ve been a participant with him on parts of our journey, have heard him speak words of truth and healing, have been challenged by him, and have been loved by him as a brother and fellow pilgrim on this road of life! In that context, much of his writing resonated even greater for me due to our shared experiences. This book is authentic and his true voice.
Unlike many leadership books that provide a convenient outline of highlights, catchy acronyms, tactics of marginal value, or filler quotes that have the nutritional value of a Big Mac, Mark writes something different. He tells us a story. His story. It’s a good story. A tough story. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns. If you listen for it, you hear the whisper of beauty and goodness in the midst of a journey filled with heartache, a transition from transactional leadership toward transformation.
Mark provides great coverage of topics that I’ve found invaluable on my own journey. Understanding the value of people’s individual story. Acknowledging the spectrum of emotions we all experience and how we can engage with emotion in healthy (if sometimes messy) ways. The process of resisting transactional relationships and living from a confident core identity. Keeping my hands open and palms up, to be ready to receive with gratitude. Setting appropriate boundaries for myself and others (after all, “you get what you create and what you allow.”*) Knowing the value of deep friendships and the challenge we will face in keeping those vital connections going.
Lastly, as the title implies, I finished with a deeper appreciation for the choice to show up. To show up as myself and not a poser, that false image of who I think people want to see or will like or will be regarded favorably. The choice to take ownership, accountability, and exercise authority over that which has been entrusted to me. The choice to be self-aware of my own feelings, and also to actively seek out and listen to those around me and acknowledge their concerns, pains, joys, frustrations, anger, gratitude, and everything. The choice to be with them. Emphasis: to be (not “to do”, my default option all to often!)
Kind of gushy for a LinkedIn post, right? It’s a reflection of my appreciation for what Mark’s done in writing down his story and using it as a lens for anyone to view their own story and leadership journey. It took 0 seconds to decide: the lifetime value of just one of these concepts is worth the price of admission! Don’t just add it to your “someday” list of professional reading; fast track it to the next book you read.
* Credit to Dr. Henry Cloud Boundaries for Leaders
Equally related is my experience with another exceptional talent mentioned in the book: Matt Emhoff’s coaching through Deeper Ministry was a game changer for me, and an early step in developing an emotional language and understanding my Clifton Strength of Empathy. He’s just great people, and a professional I deeply respect.