by Achim Nowak

Embody Who You Say You Are

February 25, 2024

I was dazzled.

A few of years ago, sitting in the glorious Berlin Philharmonie on a Sunday night, listening to the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra tear into Faure, Schoenberg, Ravel.

Dazzled most by rising-star-composer Matthias Pintscher who was conducting. Whew, this guy embodies music, I thought to myself.

Pintscher conducts with his entire body. The fire of his grand gestures. The grace of his gentle coaxing. The effortless dynamic between the two. The generous way Pintscher acknowledges his musicians during the ovation. The way he bows to the audience, hand on his heart. The vigor with which he enters from the wings.

Not the showiness of Leonard Bernstein. No, always from the core, as my trainer would say.

Music embodied. From the soul. All of him.

On a NPR news program, commentator and best-selling author David Brooks was asked to predict the messages Pope Francis would bring to his US visit.

Who Pope Francis IS, Brooks replied, is the message.

The sea is only the embodiment of a supernatural and wonderful existence.”

Jules Verne

The Pope’s easy smile, his open heart. Lovingkindness embodied.

The Late Show’s Stephen Colbert engaged in rapid-fire conversation with Apple CEO Tim Cook. I was dazzled by Colbert’s wit. His smarts. His impeccable timing. His ability to swing from the silly to the sublime. His silences. Wicked. Engaging conversation embodied.

When Colbert inquired about Cook’s disclosure that he is gay, the introverted Cook spoke eloquently about his desire to go public when LGBT youth continues to be taunted, harassed, shamed.

Whole leadership embodied.

Let’s take the notion of embodiment into our everyday lives. Here are comments I frequently hear from the fast-flying C-Suite executives I have the privilege to support through my work.

Embody These Phrases

I am really a very compassionate person.

Do you embody compassion?

I am excited about _______ (you fill in the blank)!

Do you embody excitement?

I don’t stand on protocol and procedure.

Do you embody that assertion?

I love working with my team.

Do you embody this love?

I appreciate the complexities of leading in a highly pressured, fast-changing world. It makes it that much more urgent that we contemplate the question: Where is the gap between who I say I am and how I show myself to the world?

Close the gap. Be who you say you are.

Own your dark side. Manage it, don’t embody it.

Embody everything else. Embody it as much, as often, as boldly as you can.

Embodied folk reap the rewards of true connection, every day.

Go reap.

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