How to Embrace Your Personal Leadership Truth

by Alli Polin on December 23, 2014

discover your personal leadership truths

I was thinking about today’s post, deciding what I wanted to communicate and I started to feel like an imposter.  Tempted to simply share my top posts for the year, like a cherry on top of the best sundae ever, I decided to leave that for another day. Instead, I want to share the truth with you, my year was far from perfect.  My personal leadership truth is that my year was a messy adventure with ups, downs, success and um, less than success.

I went from blogging twice a week to once a week, books were written, but not yet published and some new programs were launched, but made little splash.  I also travelled to five countries on four continents, made many new connections and deepened established relationships.

My year was like an ice cream sundae, overflowing with flavors; hot fudge, whip cream and cherries – today I’m tasting it all.  The problem is that at the moment, I’m mostly digging into the mint chocolate chip (not my favorite flavor) that’s keeping the coffee flavor hidden underneath (yum).

Where are you putting your attention?

Today, I am looking back and focusing on what I wish was different despite the fact that I know not one of us can change the past. Not to mention my past year had some moments that I never want to forget.

As humans, we often turn to the dark instead of the light.  Learning is what brings even our darkest moments into a new dawn. 

I love to advise my clients on how to discover their personal leadership truth, learn from it and accept the past.  It’s all a part of their story (or personal sundae), but it’s often easier said than done. Like most people, the more I zero in on my “less than” moments, I obscure my vision of my “greater than moments” and the more stuck I become.  Hello mint chip, goodbye coffee. 

When it happens with my clients I often help brainstorm and use flip side techniques to get unstuck from the bad and be able to see the good too.  Mind you, the goal is not to only see good… just to see the whole sundae.

Discover New Truths Through Your Relationships

In search of a brainstorming partner, I asked each of my children for three things that were awesome about this year; not ten, not eighty, three.  I was hopeful they’d help me shake loose from my coulda, woulda, shoulda moment and refocus my attention.

As I immersed myself in their positive perspectives of the year, something happened inside of me.  It was as if a weight was lifted and darkness was overcome by the light. There were no failures, only attempts.  There were no mis-steps, only learning. There were no regrets, only excitement for the future.  My sundae was looking more flavorful and filled with tastes I love by the minute.

My daughter’s words resonated with my own experience. “I really challenged myself,” she said.  “I didn’t step away or back down even when it was hard or things didn’t go my way.”

My son’s feelings were also a mirror. “I discovered that I can do more than I thought,” he said.

Personal leadership is learning to look back without regret. To transform your future, look back with an open heart and a willingness to learn.  

Flip-Side Thinking Helps Uncover New Ways of Seeing

Thanks to my kiddos, I was ready to look at the flip side of my less-than-stellar moments.  I worked with some inspirational clients, did tons of writing and rolled out an eCourse which was totally out of my comfort zone.  With intention, I was finally seeing the flip side – the also truth.  It’s like realizing that you enjoy the b-side of a record even more than the big hit release.

Flip sides are the best tool you have in your arsenal to turn poop into possibility. Ask yourself:  If this is true, what else is also true?  If I didn’t publish the book I wrote, what else is also true?  I wrote a freakin’ book and the publishing journey is simply yet to begin.

Your truth is not all good nor all bad. It’s found in the also truths… The combination of all of the flavors of your personal leadership sundae make the whole better, more interesting and more remarkable. 

Leaders Share Their Personal Truth, Not Only Inspirational Sound Bites

I vow to always bring you my truth on the Break the Frame blog – even when it’s not pretty.  I’ve worked for many years in change management and coaching, but my greatest learning comes through living – at the office, with my clients, connecting with friends and adventures with my family.  The personal leadership truth I know best isn’t from a text book or a training class, but from real life, everyday experiences and viewed with a learning lens.

I hope that by sharing, you’ll also learn to strengthen your ability to vulnerably look at your life and leadership truth.  Instead of living as a corporate zombie or someone who thinks that change is the enemy, my hope is you’re better equipped and empowered to break the frame and create your future.

Break the Frame Tip: 

Embrace the messy, less than perfect moments as much as your greatest success.  Flip it, flop it, turn it upside down and backwards until you can accept and appreciate it.  I promise you’ll discover new flavors and pathways for growth and inspiration.

Zig Ziglar had it right when he said, “Look back in forgiveness, forward in hope, down in compassion, and up with gratitude.”

Here’s to welcoming an unknown future with open arms.

What’s a truth about your year, your life and your leadership that you’re willing to share?

I’d be honored to work with you in 2015 to create a future that honors your quest for a full life and professional success.  To jump start your success, start out the year by letting go of what’s holding you back – choose to move and get unstuck!


{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Shannon December 23, 2014 at 6:09 am

Great way to change how to look back at the year. Embrace what happened and keep moving forward. I am going to keep this question in my fore thoughts. I too challenged myself on a personal level this year and it was extremely powerful. Keep up the great work.


Alli Polin December 23, 2014 at 6:16 am


You said it! (and so much more succinctly than I) “Embrace what happened and keep moving forward.”

We don’t need to erase it… or fixate on it… embrace, learn, grow,and go.

Here’s to pushing each other forward to continue to challenge ourselves be a little better every day.

Huge thanks to you, Shannon!


John Thurlbeck December 23, 2014 at 6:52 am

Hi Alli – loved the post! Three things from this year that were my highlights: our eight weeks at the start of the year in South East Asia ~ totally awesome; discovering so much whilst co-writing our Energizing Leaders book; and my son and his fiancee buying their first home and moving into it in mid-November!

It has truly been a magical year for those and many other reasons. One downside is I only made a start on my own personal book and it looks like, given my work commitments between now and March that it will be a while before I re-focus there.

It has also been another great year for sharing and learning with you! I love the blog and our broader interaction. It is a privilege to know you and I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas, a Happy, Healthy and Successful New Year … and loads of ice cream!

Kind regards



Alli Polin December 23, 2014 at 7:02 am

What a year!

It may not be the time for your book but you’re doing work that inspires… and it’s just a not now, not a never.

I have absolutely loved getting to know you over the past year or so and can’t wait until our Energize Your Leadership book lands in the new year!

I appreciate your support in addition to learning and sharing with you along the way.

Thank you!




Joy Guthrie December 23, 2014 at 8:50 am

Wonderful post, Alli. I must add that you also touched many people with your writing. Many of those people may never speak it to you; but, your words resonated & helped someone change for the better. Merry Christmas, Alli. Have a wonderful & prosperous New Year!


Alli Polin December 23, 2014 at 9:15 pm


Your words mean so much. I appreciate that I’m able to make an impact through my writing even if I never know who it touches.

A very Merry Christmas to you, Joy! My sociology – sista! 🙂


Carl December 23, 2014 at 10:11 am

Alli, I really enjoyed the post and only have one request……leave the Rocky Road for me.
Happy Holidays (from the snowy lands of Finland)

Best regards,


Alli Polin December 23, 2014 at 9:16 pm

Snow? I thought that’s something that’s only on TV!

Rainy and in the 70’s here… about as cold as it’s ever been for Christmas.

I’ve appreciated your support and connection throughout the year, Carl. Sending you loads of Rocky Road and best wishes for the new year!


Blair December 23, 2014 at 10:23 am

As you know, it was a highly creative but trying year for me on many levels. Our relationship is a bright spot as I look back. Thanks for being there and being real, and giving us all permission to be human with your powerful writing. Wishing you the best as we move forward into 2105, a breakthrough year for us!!!


Alli Polin December 23, 2014 at 9:17 pm

I feel the wind… it’s starting to stir…

You have been such an incredible part of my year, Blair. No words, just sending you big hugs and virtual high fives.



LaRae Quy December 23, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Wonderful post, Alli!

I really like this: “I love to advise my clients on how to discover their personal leadership truth, learn from it and accept the past.”

It is hard to look at our past at times, either because it’s painful or embarrassing. I always say, “change your ghosts into ancestors.” Instead of being afraid of going back, learn from those experiences…build on them. They pave the way for our future…


Alli Polin December 23, 2014 at 9:19 pm

Well said, LaRae! I love the way you put it too “ghosts into ancestors”

Here’s to paving the way to a powerful and purposeful future that embraces the past instead of longing to erase the past!




Jon Mertz December 23, 2014 at 10:55 pm


Rarely is there a straight path. When there is, it usually is going where we don’t want to go. Your honesty is refreshing, as always, showing the way a real life and real leadership comes about. Keep us honest. Keep getting yourself unstuck and us along the way. All the best to a messy, successful new year!



Alli Polin December 24, 2014 at 3:33 am


One of my favorite posts from you this year was your tango post. I think we’re on the same page with that. Many think that they’re the only ones having that experience, but truly, it’s universal.

A huge thanks to you, Jon!


Cynthia Bazin December 24, 2014 at 8:12 am

Alli, I absolutely love this post….. Thank you so much for sharing from your heart. None of us are perfect individuals and we are all on a journey. I am honored that we are connected and I truly look forward to seeing how in 2015 we can connect more! I want to thank you for being absolutely awesome. You are one of my favorite people!!!! Much gratitude….


Alli Polin December 24, 2014 at 8:21 am

Thanks! I’m glad you’re a part of my journey! So excited our project to help energize leaders will be launching in early 2015!

Sincerely, you are truly one of the most positive people I know. Helping people turn towards the light in their life and seeing what’s possible.

Let’s schedule a hangout again early in the year!



Samantha Hall December 24, 2014 at 11:14 am

The truth is always better than the best dressed lie! (that may or may not be someone’s quote on the planet yet it’s what popped into my head! ) 🙂

LOVE this post! And that’s just it. I really don’t understand why sometimes people tend to think in black and white terms or it’s one or the other. Instead of both sides of the coin and EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN!

Life gives us BOTH sides of that coin. We don’t GET just one side of the coin. In fact, we would not understand the good sides of our life without the bad. The light would not exist without the dark and vice versa.

I can’t recall the exactly when or what post, but I remember sharing something with Blair Glaser about our emotions and feeling happy or sad. I said that just because I feel sad in one moment doesn’t mean that my entire DAY is sad. I also feel moments of happiness even if there is sad underneath it. (like when you are in the midst of grief over a loss yet you can still laugh at a funny joke or a movie….or you still smile with pure joy when you see your children playing etc)

Every day is FILLED with the ups and downs of life. It takes far more energy to try and block out one whole side of a coin as if we could control all of those things that are out of control anyway! (we only WISH we could! haha)

For the most part, there IS no failure…only learning. Just like you said. Which is why I generally don’t lean towards relishing the more black and white advice in the world that tries to compartmentalize one or the other. Or it merely describes the water around the drowning person. So not helpful! To the person IN it…it’s like… yes. I know. That’s what the water looks like around me……



Thanks for pointing that out? (grinning)

Yes. So not helpful.

Helping each other thru the transitions? Like your new ecourse about getting unstuck. It’s not to DENY the bad and the ugly. It’s to assist in helping someone thru the TRANSITION to the ‘good’. The bad and ugly will inevitably come again. And we acquire more tools for the toolbox. Yet we will still need to face future transitions.

And that’s just a part of life.

For me, once I stopped fighting having to deny ‘what it’….I stop leaking so much vital energy. WE quit having to DEFEND ‘what is’ so much…. and then have enough energy to focus on what we can DO about ‘what it’ if we don’t like it!

Again, LOVE this post Alli. And love it when you share your truth. That’s why I keep coming back. So don’t ever stop sharing your truth! That’s what makes you REAL!



Alli Polin December 29, 2014 at 7:15 am


Thank you for such a rich comment! I know in a day (heck in an hour) I can have a range of experiences. Still, when someone asks, “how are ya?” I, like most people, always go with “good” because that’s what they want to hear. We often gloss over the truth of a mixed experience but that’s also a human experience.

Wow – you made me stop and ponder with this: “only describes the water around the drowning person.” Really powerful and I think for the most part we don’t realize that’s so often the default.

The truth can be scary because it requires vulnerability… putting aside our armor. Whoa.

Many thanks to you not only for your comment, but also the thinking that it sparked!


John Bennett December 25, 2014 at 4:19 pm

My father always told me “You don’t get something for nothing.” I passed it on to our children and now to our grandchildren. In considering ( – shameless and self-serving) this over the years, I’ve come to realized that “getting something” requires learning from ALL situations, especially the ones that were far less than optimum.

Thanks, Alli, for your honest sharing and always helpful thoughts!!! Merry Christmas!

Anyone reading this comment: From someone who continues to reap benefits from Alli’s online course, do yourself a favor and seriously think about taking it!


Alli Polin December 29, 2014 at 7:04 am


First of all, I want to thank you for your tremendous support for the Choose to Move course. I’m incredibly happy to hear that it added value to you!

You put it so well, John. We go through “it all” so why not learn from everything too. We don’t get to pick and choose outcomes but we can still make the choice to learn and course correct as we go.

Many thanks for being a part of my 2014! Look forward to more!


Ingrid December 25, 2014 at 7:25 pm

This post really resonated with me Alli! Thank you. During a year of massive upheaval in my personal and professional life, I managed to finish my second novel. The publishing journey is about to begin for me too. “Own your past and create your future” sounds good to me! I wish you every success and an interesting journey in 2015.


Alli Polin December 29, 2014 at 7:06 am

Welcome, Ingrid!

Woo Hoo on finishing your second novel! I’m still reading through mine trying to let go of my inner editor long enough just read through it! Hope your publishing journey is filled with learning and incredible success.

Many thanks!


Jaro December 27, 2014 at 9:08 am


most of the times we live for past or for future. So we lament or pursuit (wait) for things to come.

But the truth is that we live for NOW. Shouldn’t we be pleased with that? Wouldn’t be great if we could forget on past or future just for a moment and enjoy NOW?

With this in mind I share my thoughts: “I enjoyed reading your post and hope that you feel great about it as I was when reading it.”

Have a great 2015


Alli Polin December 29, 2014 at 7:08 am


There is tons to love and appreciate in this moment. Yes, we can spend time our always looking back or planning forward but if we let this moment slip by, it will never be here again. I actually write about that often and appreciate your reminder to step into all that’s here in the present.

A sincere thanks, Jaro!!


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