Embracing your inner 'hell yes' and other new leadership lessons

Lessons from a retreat on Radical Leadership.

I had the pleasure of attending a three-day retreat last month. It was called Radical Leadership and was led by two women named Therese (another story for another day). My anticipated outcome was to gain useful tools and insights in becoming, as they call it a "response-able" leader.

I had a jumpstart on the nature of the content because I was organizing our group’s participation. Still, the days leading up to the retreat were a challenge for me. Coming off the Fourth of July holiday, I had a lot going on. Part of my commitment as an RL participant was to be fully present, which meant disconnecting from external communication channels, including my phone and computer. I was game for it initially. But the mere thought of going off the grid for these three days started to concern me.

I drove up late Sunday evening. We had breakfast Monday morning then got started. Once all my electronic devices were tucked away, I began to appreciate this as a time to connect rather than disconnect.

Though I can’t begin to capture the full scope of RL’s impact, I can share three simple tools that support me in my essence.

Embrace my ‘hell yes’
A few years back, I went through the process of being more diligent in saying no. It was a process because I enjoy supporting others in their goals, so I wanted to find a balance that also allowed me to be focused on my purpose, while extending support to others.

One of first things that came up in RL was this: let your no be a no, and only say yes if it’s a "hell yes." If it’s not a hell yes, then it’s a no. Wow. This simple approach eased my anxieties and put things back into focus. I may vacillate over whether to say no to something but there is no denying my hell yes. It not only means I’m motivated, it means I’m inspired. It takes me beyond what I feel I should do to leap toward an opportunity for I want to do. Hell yes = major game changer.

Ask for what I want
I am no stranger to asking for what I want. At the same time, RL shed more light on this. First, not only ask for what I want, but ask for it, and then be completely unattached. That gave me something to chew on, because I can think of specific instances where I was clingy to the things I wanted most. To be unattached I have to let it go – do my thing and know that as long as I am being and doing my best, what I want has a better shot of making its way to me than me trying to manipulate situations to get to it.

Be at home with myself
As much as I’m aiming to learn a few things, most things will come naturally. RL was an incredible reminder to relax, ease up on the doing, and remember it is best to just be.

There is no need to be concerned with what others think. I can leave that to them. It makes no sense trying to duplicate what others are doing; they’ve already got that covered. I don’t need to have the answers. Playing around with and exploring possibilities is in itself a solution to approaching both challenges and opportunities. And it allows me to be more open to co-create with others.
For me, what makes RL so radical is its intentional approach to simplicity. None of these tools were new to me, and maybe they aren’t to you either. But the ways in which they were presented certainly were new to me.

In work and life, it’s nice to have reminders that reinforce perspective. Am I a subject matter expert on leadership, awareness, and perspective? No. Am I radical and relentless in exploring what these things look like and what they mean to me? Hell yes.

Rashada Whitehead is a professor, writer, and the president and chief transformation officer of KGBerry, an organization that helps conscious companies navigate big changes. Connect with her here on Twitter.

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