Inadequacy: The Cassava Plant of Life

“It still feels, looks and smells like home” she said. 

After twenty-five years of living in Canada, my new bride and I were back on these magnificent islands of Fiji for our honeymoon visiting the place she was born. 

As we drove the long road to our hotel, I asked her about the things she had missed. “Young green coconut,” she said followed by a description that made my mouth water. Almost tasting the imaginary green coconut, I asked, “Anything else?” What she said next sounded a lot less appetizing, but clearly had wonderful memories for my bride: “Oh yeah, I really missed fresh caught fish and boiled cassava.”

Are you familiar with the cassava plant? It’s a root that is commonly eaten in South America and other tropical countries. In fact, it provides the basic diet for more than half a billion people. However, if eaten raw, a single serving can cause death within a few hours. It’s only after an extensive preparation process and careful cooking can it be safely eaten.

Inadequacy is like a cassava plant. If you try to swallow it without examination, it is a deadly poison. 

I know. I was only seven years old when my dad left our family and I believed that I had to be responsible for my siblings and my mother. I believed I had to rescue them, but I also knew I was inadequate for the task. However, I kept trying. In doing so, I kept licking the raw cassava plant.  I was well into my thirties and living my life that way because it became who I thought I was. I was always looking for people to rescue/save, looking for things to fix. I was determined to be the white knight. It wasn’t until I examined and recognized that it was my own sense of inadequacy that was driving me, that I was able to change my life.

There are few things more crippling than the belief in our own inadequacy. Feelings of inadequacy show up in a variety of forms from a generalized sense of not being good enough to believing that we are not specifically capable (when in fact we are). 

As the mental mechanic for leaders, I’ve witnessed people destroy their careers, their marriages, their families and their health simply endlessly telling themselves that they weren’t good enough. No one on the outside would know, because the highly successful individuals I’m referring to are leaders doing amazing things in the world. However, they often still harbor inadequacy that is just waiting for them to take a bite.

However, there’s something I want to share with you that might surprise you: I believe that when examined rather than being repressed, inadequacy can change from poison to the fuel you need for your continued success.

Inadequacy either kills the very essence of who we are, or, when we choose to examine it, process it, and transform it, it becomes our greatest gift. Like the cassava it can go from poison to a staple. When we bring our inadequacy to the light for all to see, the unrealistic expectations we have put upon ourselves start to fall away. It can be terrifying to lay bare the very thing we have spent our lives hiding from the world, but when we do, we step through the doors of our self-made prison and into the freedom of authenticity. It is in having been placed in situations and given expectations to which we were inadequately equipped that the desire to be something better, to step up our game to the next level was born. 

When we face the truth we do not want to see, when we are willing to have compassion for who we were is when inadequacy is transformed. It is from here and only here that we can choose an empowering meaning for what happened rather than a disempowering one. In my own case; as a result of not having somebody to show me how to be a leader, I got to design leadership for me. I got to develop what it could mean, to test it and apply that meaning to direct myself to serve at a higher level. From there I got to guide others to find their own unique purpose and lead by the values of that purpose. I got to design and assist other in recognizing that leadership is not about control or rescuing but rather; empowering others to also lead. 

I want to put it to you to take a look what inadequacy that you might have been carrying around… I challenge you to get curious about the cassava of your own inadequacy and how you can transform that into something that will nourish your greatest life.

The Mic is Yours:
What inadequacy have you transformed into a strength?
Or what inadequacy do you want to transform into your strength?

With gratitude,
Dov Baron, Expert on Leadership, presents his Authentic Leadership Matrix!

My Authentic Leadership Matrix is free this link! Why? Because one of the questions I’m most often asked is; What authentic leadership is and how do we define it? As a result, with years of experience and extensive requests, I created the Authentic Leadership Matrix. It’s designed to give you a clear process of how to perform in each of the five main areas that are required for you to become a world-class authentic leader. Start your yes and no evaluation to discover your leadership traits here:

Want to retain your top talent? Then my “Fiercely Loyal” book is for you! Plus get your free: “How to instantly bond any team” infographic.

Copyright: Dov Baron International© 2020


  • @TheDovBaron

    Inc Magazine top 100 leadership speaker, Inc #1 Podcast for Fortune 500 Executives, Entrepreneur Mag contributor, Leadership Strategist, Storyteller.

    Dov Baron

    Dov Baron is “The Dragonist”, guiding us in how to recognize and nurture dragons (the top talent) hidden in our organizations. A Dragon Leader is not a position; it’s someone who is always pushing to improve and wants those they serve to reach their full potential.   Dov’s humour and no-BS style is contagious. As a master storyteller, he is considered to be the leading authority on actualized leadership. Actualized leadership means getting the result you set out to achieve in the most meaningful manner.   Working with diverse leaders and executive teams, Dov filters common bonds to create Fiercely Loyal cultures. You can’t achieve loyalty without “meaning”, and talent only stays when they feel they are a part of something larger than themselves.    Besides being a bestselling author of One Red Thread and Fiercely Loyal: How High Performing Companies Develop and Retain Top Talent, Dov has been named one of Inc. Magazine’s Top 100 Leadership Speakers to Hire and as one of the Top 30 Global Leadership Gurus. He has spoken to the United Nations, The World Management Forum (Iran), The New York National Speakers Association, and The Servant Leadership Institute.    In June 1990, while free rock climbing, Dov fell approximately 120 feet and landed on his face. The impact shattered most of the bone structure of his face. After ten reconstructive surgeries, no external evidence remains; however, this experience wasn’t just life-changing, it was completely transformational. Dov shares how Dragons are born in fire. Experiences that could potentially destroy you can, instead, birth purpose, passion, and the hunger to champion others. We can learn to nurture the Dragon Fire in ourselves, our families, our communities, and our companies.    Dov believes the world needs more "Dragon Leaders" committed to living their purpose, standing in their truth, and empowering others to find their fire and do the same.