By Ellie Hearne

Last week I posted the above image on Twitter and Instagram - a page from my notebook. It got a fantastic response, so I thought I'd expand on the idea of "living above the line" here.


Live above the what?

When we're met with a challenge, it's often easier to react hastily than it is to respond thoughtfully. 

"The line" is the distinction between curling up in a ball or blaming someone else and acknowledging what's happening or simply taking control.

The latter is leadership in action - and that's what living above the line is all about.

Here's a visual primer. Notice that the further below the line you are, the more "powerless" you will seem.

live above the line


Do your live above the line?

Think about the last time you were faced with a challenge.

How did you react? Did you brush it off and hope for the best? Or did you own it, take control, and exercise leadership?

It can be tough to acknowledge a failure, particularly when your own actions might be in question. But those are precisely the moments when you should exercise ownership and take control. 

Everyone dips below that line from time to time - particularly when stressed or under pressure. Exercising self-awareness is what helps us climb back up and stay there. 



Ellie Hearne is a leadership-communications expert and founder of Pencil or Ink. Over the years she has coached leaders at Google, Apple, Starbucks, Spotify, Marriott, and numerous small businesses and startups. Ellie can be reached herehere, and here.