In ancient Rome, Janus was the god of beginnings and transitions, and also of gates, doorways, passages, endings, and time.  The Romans named the month of January (Ianuarius) in his honor.  He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looked both to the future and to the past.  Janus was the guardian of the transition from one state to another, and only through his direction could things transform and change to something different.

In the Western world, January is traditionally a time of new beginnings.  Something about starting a fresh new year, wiping the slate clean of our foibles and fumbles, and beginning anew is stored in our collective psyche as the lingering hope that we each have the ability to re-create ourselves.  To shed whatever skin no longer fits or suits us, and try on a new and truer version of whom we want to become.  To transform into a new and better version of what we think we could be.

We all know the New Year’s Resolution drill. We vow to lose the weight that does disservice to our health and appearance, exercise more, improve our relationships…and the list goes on.  We know that within a month or two, most of us will have abandoned our noble declarations. More often than not, everyday life gets in the way of our January resolutions and despite the best of intentions our comfort zones and old habits conquer us.

Yet regardless of their odds of sticking, we continue to be drawn with hope to the idea of the possibility of the power of our own resolve and commitment to change. 

I think this is because we intuitively know that within us lies a force of unlimited power.  We alone control the doorway to transformation.  If we can only draw upon it and direct it with discipline, consistency, and conviction, we somehow already know that we can create whatever it is that we resolve. 

But we prefer to ignore that power, and pretend it isn’t there.  Accessing it is frightening, for its tsunami-like force overwhelms us out of our comfort zone, disrupting our mental models of what is possible and causing us to re-evaluate ourselves.  It leaves us with the new-found accountability that our true power lies not outside us, coming from circumstances and luck, but is right there, waiting inside us to be released in full force.

So my questions to you at the beginning of this New Year are simple: 

  • What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
  • Who do you want to be?
  • What do you need to let go of this year?
  • How will you release your fears and trust in yourself?
  • What actions do you need to take to step into your full power as a leader, both in your organization and your own life?

Like Janus, I challenge you to consider what type of leader you are creating yourself to be in the future, and what old behaviors no longer serve you this year.  You own the transition from your old state to the new one.  You alone are the keeper standing at the arc of that doorway.

The leader you are consist of the choices and actions you exhibit right now, in the present. 

This January, will you make the choice to own that simple fact and step through a new doorway and stay there?