- Clarify a vision. Mandela’s dedication to the African people and the ideal of a free and democratic society where all people would live in harmony kept hope alive for the South African people. It also kept Mandela’s own hope alive during his years of unjust confinement. Hope is not a guarantee of a desired outcome, but a deep and sustaining confidence that our contribution will make a difference – regardless of the outcome. What is your personal vision that inspires hope?
- Open your hearts. Divisiveness, exclusion, and dissention have been a part of the places where we live and work the past two+ years. Vaccine mandates, corporate policies, religious views, and political opinions have divided families and workplaces like nothing I have experienced in my lifetime. Ask yourself who in your world needs to be listened to, heard, and truly understood. Where might apologies be needed? It’s not agreement but respect, understanding, and compassion that is required. It’s naïve to think that we can just return to work and personal relationships, and everything will be back to normal. Healing from the impact of the pandemic will take time, patience, and much caring from everyone.
- Let go of bitterness. “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom,” said Nelson Mandela, “I knew that if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” Forgiveness is not some bleeding-heart, Sunday school platitude. Forgiveness is having the courage to honestly face the emotions that come from being unjustly injured and then letting go of the right to be resentful. It takes maturity to be able to bear an injustice without wanting to get even. Forgiveness does not abdicate the importance of justice; rather it removes revenge from the justice process. Forgiveness transforms vengeance into freedom. In the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, “Without forgiveness, there is no future.”
The pandemic has created an opportunity to shine a light on the quality and depth of your life, your leadership, and your relationships. The past several months have been a time of reflection and evaluation to ask questions such as:
- Where is my career going?
- Do I really want to spend the rest of my days working seventy hours a week?
- How can I be a better leader by focusing on what truly matters?
One client talked about how, for the past twenty-five years, she was in the “rhythm of a corporate tune, continually reacting to the demands of others.” She said, “Now is the time to find my own new rhythm.”
I offer some strategies for moving into the next chapter of your life as you settle into the new reality which will likely be with us long-term:
- Decide to see this as an opportunity. Choices have great power to determine the outcome of your life.
- Make room to step back, pull out a journal, and answer some questions:
- What’s been working well in your life?
- What areas are not flowing/working well?
- Where might you be over-accommodating, compromising yourself, and burning out?
- What parts of your life have you felt most excited/passionate about?
- What do you feel called to do?
- What might need to shift/change/end?
- Reach for your why – your reason for being – an inspiring purpose for getting out of bed in the morning.
- Reflect on your most important values.
- Consider your unique abilities, talents, and gifts that set you apart from the crowd.
- Plan on how you will contribute and serve the world over the next five to ten years.
- Include your loved ones in your plans and intentions.
Authentically shaping the next chapter of your life, whether you stay in your current role, decide to renew it, make a transition to a new role or even a new career, or are considering what retirement might look like, requires careful and conscious attention. From time to time, we all drift away from our true nature. When we realign with our authentic self, we amplify our positive impact as a leader and create meaning and purpose in our life.
If you want to learn ways to shape the next chapter of your life in alignment with your authentic self, please join me for a complimentary one-hour webinar on September 23. This – and more – will be included in the webinar and in my upcoming virtual Life In Transitions course.
Authentic leadership is both active and reflective. One has to alternate between participating and observing. I am in the midst of navigating my own way through that journey and feel compelled to share my experiences and perspective with you.
There was a man who had four sons. He wanted his sons to learn to live without judgement, so he sent them each on a quest to go and look at a pear tree that was a great distance away.The first son went in the winter, the second in the spring, the third in summer, and the youngest in the fall.After they had all gone and returned, he called them together to describe what they had seen.The first son said that the tree was ugly, bent, and twisted.The second son said it was covered with green buds and full of promise.The third son disagreed. He said it was laden with blossoms that smelled so sweet and looked so beautiful, it was the most graceful thing he had ever seen.The last son disagreed with all of them. He said it was ripe and drooping with fruit, full of life and fulfillment. The man then explained to his sons that they were all right, because they had each seen but one season in the tree’s life.
For the past several years I have been involved in teaching leadership development programs at every level and in every division of the RCMP. In my workshops, I make a distinction between the transactional work of policing (writing tickets, arresting criminals, doing paper work, etc.) and transformational work of policing, where lives are changed, communities become safer, and police officers make a lasting difference in someone’s life.
When I teach this leadership principle I tell a story about a constable who rightfully ticketed me several years ago for going through a stop sign while I turned on to a main street in the community where I live. But this constable didn’t just write me a ticket. He carefully took the time to make the whole experience a transformational moment. He sincerely and respectfully told me a story of why he was writing me a ticket. He had recently attended to an accident where children were killed because a car was t-boned when the driver went through a stop sign without stopping.
The story was transformational to me. It changed my life. While I won’t say that since that day I have never rolled through a stop sign, over the past nine years I frequently think of that constable when I am approaching a stop sign, and when I do so, I make sure I come to a complete stop.
In recent weeks I have taken the time to track down this constable and thank him for changing a life. Here, in essence, is what I said:
“I want to thank you for stopping me that night and telling me that story before you ticketed me. You changed my life. Because of your actions, I am a safer driver. But it not only made me a safer driver. For the past nine years I have been telling this story to corporate audiences across the continent and several people over the years have told me that my story has helped change their driving habits and made them safer drivers.
So… your service in our community has changed lives and likely saved lives. I just wanted to write and express my sincere appreciation to you.
Continue on with your important work in our community and beyond. You and your colleagues in the RCMP do incredible work that is far too often unacknowledged and unappreciated.”
So often, we never know when one action will have a rippling effect to make lasting change in a person’s life. So often, we never know how our lives can make a difference.
To paraphrase the words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that one thoughtful, committed citizen can change the world.”