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Achieve Success Through Identity Leadership

Many people have unresolved past experiences that may impact their ability to live a successful life today. If that sounds like you, don't be discouraged. Educator and best-selling author Stedman Graham says that it's never too late to achieve the future you envision if you're willing to put in the work.

In Stedman's new book Identity Leadership, it's clear he has a passion for the subjects of personal growth and empowerment. It stems from his own journey of insecurity and self-reflection to confidently thriving in higher education and business. Identity Leadership is essentially "self-leadership.” It’s about realizing that we can’t give to others what we don’t have ourselves.

Stedman is the founder and CEO of S. Graham & Associates. The organization promotes corporate leadership skill development while helping individuals build the framework to define, plan, and prepare for future success.


In a special two-part episode of the Motivational Mondays podcast presented by The National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS), Stedman joined host Corey Andrew Powell in a candid discussion about personal skill development and its impact on our ability to effectively lead others similarly to how transformational leaders inspire those around them.

Stedman explains he had to overcome and unlearn years of self-doubt and insecurities to understand that his contributions to the world were distinctly his own and as worthy as anyone else’s. To resolve feelings of inadequacy, he realized the first step would be to clarify his own existence and not be defined by past circumstances or his association with notable figures.

Through this soul searching, Stedman developed his Nine Step Success Process©. "I created the Nine Step Success Process© for myself as a way to define my own existence and to really find freedom in my life. This process helped me find out who I was as a person and then to be able to self-actualize it through eight other steps. The first step is, you gotta know who you are. You have to have an identity and then, you have to be able to self-actualize that."

Upon realizing this process was pivotal in making positive change in his life, Stedman realized there might be millions of people around the world, possibly billions, who are lost the same way he had been. If they were looking for a life of meaning with equality and value, could his nine-step program help them too?


Finding one's purpose in life might seem like a lofty goal. However, Stedman says that it’s easier than we think. He breaks it into three clarifying segments: passions, skills, and abilities. If people can identify these things, they will more concisely shape and define their purpose in life. 

Identity Leadership combines Stedman's ideology with a relevant, customizable program that empowers others the same way he learned to empower himself. However, he stresses there can be no tangible results if people are unwilling to work on themselves critically.

Stedman clarifies, "People know that true leaders are not looking for attention or praise; instead, these individuals have a sense of obligation and drive toward fulfilling their mission on earth which can only come through making an impact wherever they go in life. A strong identity is necessary if you want your life's purpose fulfilled."

What we're passionate about, care about, and love are things that allow us to sustain long-term success. Stedman says we all share the same 24 hours daily in which we can either go out and impact the world or be stagnant. The question he poses is, "What are you doing with yours?" That question is the catalyst for building, designing, and creating our future.


People are all uniquely different and nowhere is this more evident than within student bodies nationwide. Despite these differences, there is a common denominator: they can all apply what Stedman refers to as the “organizational process of building empowerment.”

"It starts with you not living out of your history but living out of your imagination —not creating who you are, but who you can become and working toward that. That's what college education should be about. That's what our experiences should be about. Think of all the opportunities. Living in the greatest country in the world, America, is all about improving our lives regardless of our circumstances."

Whatever the situation may be, you're always able to move past it. Start from the bottom up, building upon the core foundation of YOU. And always remember, you are not your circumstances—you are your possibilities.


It's evident we're living in an increasingly fear-based society. Stedman warns it also negatively impacts our ability to focus and stay optimistic as we pursue our dreams. Adding to that are the fears and behaviors we've grown up with. For example, what fears did we learn from our parents? What fears do we have to overcome that were instilled in us? 

Identity Leadership means that you find the courage to forge your own path as much as you can to make an informed assessment. It's the opposite of learning—it's unlearning and conquering obstacles that may prevent you from taking risks pursuing your ambitions. Stedman points out that fear is a go-to sentiment for many. To move beyond it, you have to work on it every day.

"Overcoming your fears. I know, man, it's a big thing. I grew up with low self-esteem and a lack of confidence in myself,” said Stedman. “So, I'm trying to figure out how to overcome my fears. You overcome it by learning, reading, developing, building, and having the knowledge to face your issues more fearlessly. It comes down to your decision to be a victor and not a victim."


Stedman's Identity Leadership and accompanying program incorporates a comprehensive academic tool that fully delves into the following the Nine Step Success Process©

  1. Check Your Identity: You must develop your identity before you decide what you want out of life.
  2. Create Your Vision: A well-defined vision enables you to set meaningful goals.
  3. Develop Your Travel Plan: Planning saves time, keeps you focused, and builds confidence.
  4. Master the Rules of the Road: You need guidelines to keep you on track in pursuit of a better life.
  5. Step into the Outer Limits: To grow, you have to leave your comfort zone, confront fears, and take risks.
  6. Pilot the Seasons of Change: Learn how to create change and manage your response.
  7. Build Your Dream Team: Build supportive relationships, perhaps with mentors, who will help you work toward your goals.
  8. Win by a Decision: The choices you make will be one of your greatest challenges.
  9. Commit to Your Vision: Devote consistent time and energy to pursuing your goals and vision.

Identity Leadership by Stedman Graham delivers a cathartic roadmap to the highest levels of leadership required for success in the 21st century. Whether it’s corporate audiences or college students, the program resonates with anyone who understands that the way to a more contented life is through tools that help us become our most authentic selves.