Starting from a Place of Self-Reflection

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Becoming a leader by attraction means that as a leader, people believe they can trust you and be open and know that there’s no hidden agenda. It also means having an intense commitment to help others to succeed. You get there by having sheer clarity about who you are, why you’re here, and where you’re headed. That’s what emotional intelligence and self-awareness are about.

Today’s interview is with a leader in a non-traditional category who I’ve known for years, Mike Swiger. Mike is the Executive Director of True Freedom Ministries, an evangelical, non-profit organization dedicated to reaching people locked in jails and prisons, the homeless, and those trapped in addiction across Ohio. While a student at Case Western Reserve University, Mike was convicted as an accomplice to a crime his older brother committed and ended up serving 17 years for involuntary manslaughter. While incarcerated, he became a Christian and began the process of preparing himself for a better life once he was back home.

In this episode, Mike and I talk about how he ended up in prison and the unconventional path he took into the nonprofit world, what you think about when you have the time to examine your own heart, how the pandemic is affecting prisoners, what Mike has learned over the years about leadership, the lessons we can learn from lifers about vulnerability, and so much more!

Key Topics:

  • Commonalities between leadership in nonprofit and for-profit enterprises (2:00)
  • The True Freedom mission (3:03)
  • The unique path that led Mike to his current role and ministries in the nonprofit world (4:30)
  • Why high performers have a hard time prioritizing self-reflection (6:05)
  • How Mike used his time while incarcerated to start to heal and transform himself (7:50)
  • The book that helped Mike gain valuable perspective on himself (8:29)
  • The choice you have in how you respond to your trauma and live your life (9:22)
  • Mike’s spiritual awakening in prison and the clarity it brought him (12:17)
  • Recognizing that you are in control of your destiny (13:36)
  • How the pandemic is impacting prisoners and Mike’s prison ministries (16:10)
  • What the pandemic has taught Mike about leadership (18:28)
  • Being the rock of reassurance for your team (20:41)
  • What we can learn about hope from the Stockdale Paradox (22:34)
  • Recovering from the damaging effects of false hope (23:45)
  • The devastating news that became a defining point for Mike in the early 90s (25:35)
  • Finding joy through extremely difficult circumstances (26:47)
  • How I used my career to guide me during my first prison visit with Mike (30:29)
  • Deep insights from the hearts of lifers (32:01)
  • Heightening connection by stretching your discomfort with vulnerability (34:40)
  • Why you need to ask yourself the difficult questions right now (36:52)
  • How you can get involved with True Freedom Ministries (38:18)
  • And much more!


Mentioned in this Episode:

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