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Living The Fourth: Finding Yourself Before You Can Make An Impact As A Leader

As Seen on Forbes

Managing people is never easy. It’s something we must work on every day with ourselves and others. We all want to protect our teams and achieve fruitful outcomes for each other to make personal and company goals happen. There are a lot of ways to stay true to our people in the process of leading, coaching and managing them  and there is one way that you can fulfill your promise to them every day.

“Living the fourth” is an expression used to help the participants of Kairos find themselves. Kairos is a 3-day Jesuit retreat that many Jesuit/Roman Catholic high school students attend prior to graduation. To “live the fourth” means to live out the promises you made on the final day of the retreat by continuing to serve others. In doing so, you find who you are and what impact you can have on others.

Drop those rocks and forget about who you have been, but rather, focus on who you are and want to be

Understanding what we can do to help others isn’t exclusive to religion, but it can and should be at the heart of what we do every day. I didn’t understand it as a teenager, but as an adult, it set in for how I lead my life, how I communicate with others and how I help lead.

So what does all this mean for you as you work, manage, and partner with others? In essence, it is a servant leadership mindset, and living it starts with you. Here’s how you can begin to live the fourth every day as a leader.

  1. Find yourself and what motivates you. To cultivate this mindset, you must access the core of who you are today and who you want to be tomorrow. Essentially, it is taking a current assessment of where you are now, what worked, what didn’t work and how you can fulfill the future version of you. A reflection of your past helps to create a better version of you in the future. Reflect, assess and plan to make changes that are aligned with who you want to be and how you will get there. Find the things that make you happy and whole, and others who support this mission. This is easier said than done.
  2. Drop the rocks. We carry rocks on our back every day when we are unable to let go of negative emotions and experiences from the past. This weighs us down from getting to where we want to be in the future. It is longer, harder and mentally perplexing to carry these rocks along with defining who we want to be. In order to lead, coach and manage others, you need to drop those rocks and forget about who you have been, but rather, focus on who you are and want to be. You can’t help anyone if you can’t help yourself. Begin with you so you can lead and manage others without the weight of past burdens weighing you down.
  3. Have a growth mindset. According to Carol Dweck in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, when people have a growth mindset, they “believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” In a growth mindset, challenges aren’t setbacks, but rather, they’re a chance to learn and improve skills.


On the other hand, Dweck says that “in a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort.”

When you have a growth mindset, you are always learning. And when you’re always learning, your team is too.

  1. Identify your team dysfunctions. Once you have completed your self-assessment, dropped the rocks and begun the path to a growth mindset, you can work with your team to set off on this path too.


The five dysfunctions of a team, based on the book by Patrick Lencioni, is a great exercise to assess your team and understand whether they are forming, storming or norming. Much like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which is a theory that an individual’s most basic needs must be met before they can move on to fulfilling other needs, the five dysfunctions pyramid is similar. It begins with assessing trust, conflict, commitment, accountability and results to see how to achieve higher levels of actual output. In doing this exercise, you will have a solid starting point for building your team to meet the future needs of the organization.

The first three steps of this article helped to uncover and identify you so that you can begin living the fourth with your team by helping them, serving them and uncovering their talent.

Living the fourth begins with you; others cannot live it if you have not committed to yourself. Once you do, you can work with them on the first three steps to achieving a better version of themselves.

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