A Worthy Journey

| By Dori Miller |

Atlanta Magazine had just named me a Georgia Super Lawyer, an attorney in the top 5% of attorneys in the state of Georgia. Why did I feel so empty and out of balance? What was wrong with me? I was the Managing Partner of one of the largest boutique estate planning and business law firms in Atlanta. I was responsible for other partners (all men – all older!), associates, and support staff. Then it occurred to me, what if I miss my life… my purpose?

Dori Miller

Dori Miller

I was a manager. If I wanted to make an impact, I needed to become a leader. If I wanted a legacy, I needed to develop and lead leaders. I had to lead me first. President Harry Truman said, “You cannot lead others until you first lead yourself.” This journey became more a search of ‘who-to-be’ than ‘what-to-do.’

To lead yourself well means you hold yourself to a higher level of accountability than others do. You always do what is right, which requires character and self-discipline. You decide what major choices (such as health, priorities, attitude, etc.) are important to you then you discipline yourself to follow through on your promises to yourself.

For example, if you promise yourself that you will exercise today; you exercise. If you promise yourself you will be on time; you are on time. You keep promises to yourself even when you don’t feel like it. Then when a defining moment happens in your life, you have already decided what is important and who you are so you can focus on the situation. To do otherwise is a set up to do or say things we regret or to miss opportunities. How we do anything is how we do everything. You take responsibility and become the kind of person you respect so that you can earn the trust of others.

The journey from business lawyer to the business of helping others set up businesses required the shift in me from achiever to leader. I slowly learned that you don’t choose to lead; you ‘become’ to lead. First, I had to learn how to follow well. Bishop Fulton J. Sheen said, “Civilization is always in danger when those who have never learned to obey are given the right to command.”

I had to be willing to seek and accept advice from others. I had to become the student, while developing patience for the process and others. As John Maxwell said, “…the point of leading is not to cross the finish line first. It’s to take people across the finish line with you.”

Leadership is essentially influence. For me to influence others, I had to add value to their lives. I had to roll up my sleeves and learn to mentor, coach, shepherd, encourage, support, inspire, impart vision, comfort, challenge, teach, and model. If you put these words in a word cloud what comes out are three fundamentals:

1. Serve 2. Inspire 3. Teach

I had to become the kind of person who could serve, inspire, and teach, as described by leader and author, David Beavers. As I was busy telling people, I got to learn that what most people want is to be listened to, respected and understood. I had to listen to the why behind the words and to hear their passions, hopes, and dreams.

What a leader does is to help discover others’ strengths and uniqueness, and then encourage them to develop them. The greater the ability a person has, the greater the potential for improvement, which is where the focus should be rather than working hard on the weaknesses. It is important, however, to challenge others to work out of their comfort zone, but not out of their strength zone, as John Maxwell refers to it.

Leaders don’t change people. Rather, they become change agents. They inspire others to have confidence in themselves to change and become their best. They enlarge others. Author Dale Galloway says, “The growth and development of people is the highest calling of a leader.”

Some people will change; some won’t. As Jim Rohn said, “Good people are found, not changed. They change themselves, but, you can’t change them. If you want motivated people, you have to find them, not motivate them.”

People don’t grow automatically. You have to be intentional to grow, which means we need a plan for personal growth. I model and share my plan, which is to read a personal growth book for 15 minutes each morning, five days a week and listen to a personal growth CD whenever I am in my car. I heard Charlie ‘Tremendous’ Jones say, “Your life will be the same five years from now except for the people you meet and the books you read.”

I then capture significant ideas from the books and CDs in a journal. I learned from author and coach, Tommy Newberry, to invest 90 seconds every evening to reflect on my day and record positive experiences, improvements, compliments, good times, achievements, ‘ah-has’ (which can be lessons learned) to wire my brain before sleep for positive solution seeking.

At the end of the week, I reflect on three questions:

1. What has been working?
2. What hasn’t been working?
3. What will I do differently?

The purpose of leadership is to take others where they couldn’t go on their own and to help them see and be the best version of themselves. On my own, what I could accomplish was insignificant. Learning to become a person who can serve, inspire and teach others to be their best is a worthy journey. Instead of missing my life, I am intentionally serving, inspiring, and teaching.

Dori Miller is a former law partner in Lefkoff, Duncan, Grimes, Miller & McSwain, PC, in Atlanta, GA. She’s a summa cum laude graduate of Mercer University in Macon, GA, with a Juris Doctorate. Atlanta Magazine designated Dori as a Georgia Super Lawyer. Dori now helps others create their own successful business through the JuicePlus+ Company as a National Marketing Director. She also serves on the board for the Transylvania Community Arts Council.

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