Who Inspires You?

Leading change is hard! To keep myself and my change team motivated, I am constantly on the lookout for people who, intentionally or not, become agents of change. I find it inspirational to listen to the stories of people who have surmounted incredible odds and driven forward despite what others around them think or do, and who ultimately deliver great things.

Recently, I was inspired by the American Public Media Marketplace interview of Ping Fu, CEO of Geomagic. In Ping Fu’s memoir, Bend, Not Break: A Life In Two Worlds, she describes a life filled with adversity and discovering her authentic self to overcome her circumstances:

“Bamboo is flexible, bending with the wind but never breaking, capable of adapting to any circumstance. It suggests resilience, meaning that we have the ability to bounce back even from the most difficult times. . . . Your ability to thrive depends, in the end, on your attitude to your life circumstances. Take everything in stride with grace, putting forth energy when it is needed, yet always staying calm inwardly.”
—Ping Fu’s “Shanghai Papa”

I was additionally inspired by the Fast Company interview with Ping Fu, where she discussed her approach to leadership:

I want to enable people so that they can grow, they can contribute, and they can feel a sense of relevance. I want to create an environment where people really love what they do and enjoy working with each other….

I don’t want people to even notice I’m there, but notice the environment I’m creating, the work that they are doing, and the company.

Her advice for leaders is fantastic advice for anyone who leads change:

Think about moving forward rather than up. A lot of times, people think leadership is about moving up, which is a) very, very hard and b) very limited. There is an unlimited road ahead of us, but there’s not an unlimited high we can reach.

Also, I found in my career that it is better to be clear than to be right. A lot of times, I find leaders want to be right and they think being right is what gains respect. I find being clear is what gains respect–if you’re clearly wrong, people can correct you, and if you’re clearly right, people can follow you.

About Michelle Smeby

Michelle Smeby is CEO of wHolistic Change, Inc. with more than 10 years of experience implementing enterprise solutions at Fortune 100 companies. Michelle specializes in helping corporations deliver transformational change.

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