Coaching for Leaders
IT REALLY IS THE PERFECT WORD ARETE
I scoured my brain, racking it for words synonymous with a leader, leadership, lead, etc. Every word I came up with seemed completely generic, excessively boring. Not exactly the stuff of legends. But then I thought to myself, “What if I get fancy? What if I look back to antiquity? What if the ancient Greeks possessed the perfect term or word I was looking for?”
Turns out they did........
The modern meaning of the word arête is a sharp mountain ridge. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I love the mountains. I have always loved to snowboard, to breathe in the mountains, to truly be the best version of me on the mountain!
Arête was closely associated with the idea of being effective. In fact, an arête person was considered to be of the highest effectiveness. But a little glimpse back into history working with my coach provided me with a deeper meaning. The word arête can be found in Homeric Poems - you know, the guy who wrote famous epics such as The Iliad and The Odyssey!
At a surface level, the ancient greek meaning alluded to excellence of any kind and living up to one’s full potential. That is a pretty great start. It gets better. Now we are getting somewhere right? We are aspiring to not only be leaders but to be effective leaders. People who effect change; who have the ability to make pendulum swing as needed.
Like leadership, arête is tied to results. A person who has achieved the level of arête is someone who uses all the available tools in their toolbox to make an impact and deliver lasting results. This person draws upon all their faculties and abilities to advance the cause, whatever it may be.
That is why I consider arête the perfect word to describe this movement towards being the consummate leader. Because it is more than just a word. It is an ideal - a state that we can all aspire to ascend to.
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