Here’s What The CEO Title Really Stands For

Have you ever wondered why the forests are lush and dense in the valley but sparse, dusty and barren on the tops of mountains?
See, growth happens in the valleys.  It’s not only true of nature, but also true of people, teams, organizations and even, families.

It’s the valley’s of life where we make transformation that matters.  It’s where the growth stories emerge.

It NEVER happens on the top of the mountain.

The Valleys of Life

Everyone has valleys they’ve experienced in their lifetimes, from personal to professional hardships that led to new direction and unexpected growth.

Leaders need to better leverage the valleys they’ve experienced to inspire and encourage the people they lead.  My personal view is that most people find the valleys of life to be shameful, only to be well-hidden as we endure the journey and banished from our memories forever when its over.

However, what we don’t realize is that we are surrounded by people in valleys right now, struggling with some aspect of their life which is impeding their potential.

Your story is a climbing rope over-the-cliff for someone else.  When you share your story, you are creating a safe place for others to open up to the dark valleys they may find themselves wandering.  The dangling rope hanging over the cliff could be all the hope that someone close to you needs to be encouraged to new growth.  Watch them grab the rope.  Not only do you release someone from their nightmare, but the advent of their transformation and growth serves as a chain reaction for even more.


The act of sharing life in the valleys is also known as vulnerability.  And ultimately, this kind of vulnerability leads to a deep connection with each other and cement-like trust within your inner circles.

Last week, I launched into a short, two week series exploring the incredible power that can be harnessed from vulnerability.  I shared an outstanding TED Talk from Brene Brown, where she defined vulnerability as allowing ourselves to be seen, possessing uncommon courage to be imperfect and a willingness to let go of who we think we should be in order to be who we are.

So, how exactly, do we forge this kind of vulnerability?  How, do we as leaders, bring it to life in our organizations and teams?  And maybe more importantly, our families.

4 Steps to Build Vulnerability With Others

There are 4 steps to leverage your valleys as a climbing rope over-the-cliff for the people in your life who matter:

1.)  Open Up

While not an easy chore by any stretch, the first step in building vulnerability is opening up.  You and I need to be transparent and honest about where, how and why we have failed or been dealt a difficult hand. It could be in the form of job loss, addiction, the medical tribulations of a close family member – detailing the hardship, pain and hopelessness that you felt on the journey.

Personally, I’ve had to work so hard at this aspect in my own life as it takes courage and confidence to open up.  In particular, having gone through a corporate restructuring in the last year led to a job loss at the same time that we were adopting a baby girl.  Little did we know God was getting ready to work in our life as He never did before.

There is an equal or better opportunity to share mistakes with our children as a way to teach them not only how to respond to failures in life, but also that God made us all imperfect so that He could send us a Savior! Mommy and Daddy make mistakes too.

2.)  Share the Transformation

Sharing how you were able to pick yourself up from lying flat on your back, get back on the path, and climb out of the valley is the inspiration others need for hope.  Everyone has a story of transformation, and its happened in the darkest of times.  Specifically, how did you do it and share how it changed you?

3.)  Challenge

You only reach this particular step if you’ve told your story well.  I believe strongly that steps 1 and 2 will prompt most people to a safe and comfortable place to begin sharing their personal story.  And when they do, and you have listened intently, you’ve earned the right to challenge them (in a mentor-like fashion) to chase the transformation story that is waiting to unfold.  Maybe most importantly, help them see how valuable the time in the valley can be before they begin taking action.

Time spent in reflection and prayer was critical to my own journey.  Circling prayers around my family and the ways in which God wanted to use me opened doors and provided clarity in a way that I never thought possible.

4.)  Encourage

While your story could be the spark others need, it will be your on-going encouragement that will ultimately fuel their growth journey.

Replace “Executive” in Chief Executive Officer with “Encouragement” and you become the Chief Encouragement Officer.

Unlock Potential in Others

If transformation and growth happens in the darkest valleys of life, sort of makes a trip to the valley worth it, doesn’t it?

Think of vulnerability as a key to unlock potential in others.  You’re story is the key.

Don’t be afraid to tell it.

Follow Us


IMG_0314 1

Founder Todd Garreston

With over 15 years of experience leading market share growth initiatives of top consumer brands in Fortune 500 and privately-held business environments, Todd Garretson advises and helps organizations identify new growth potential, craft strategy that moves people to action and enhance overall performance.

Having a passion for helping people and organizations to unlock dormant growth potential, Todd writes and speaks for audiences in three core areas: business growth strategy, leadership and personal / professional growth.

Residing in Atlanta, GA with his wife, Lauri, and their four children, weekends and free time are spent with family, coaching youth sports, and sharing his passion for fitness and nutrition.