- Purpose and Vision. Leadership is a consuming activity. A sense of purpose, along with a clearly articulated vision of what you want your life and your leadership to be like in the next five years, will enable to you to stay passionate so you can inspire those under your care.
- Insights. Learning is key to self-awareness and growth. What insights do you need this year to build your personal capacity toward your purpose and vision? What books will you read? What courses will you take? What teachers will you seek out?
- Self-Reflection. Connecting to others begins with listening to oneself. And listening to yourself requires a place where you can hear yourself think. When you spend so much of your life attending to the demands of others, you can lose yourself by failing to distinguish between your authentic voice and other voices that clamor for your attention.
- Feedback. While a habit of personal reflection can bring an element of growth and self-understanding, it will only take you so far. You ultimately can’t solve problems with the same thinking that created the problems. We all have blind spots. We need feedback from others to see what we can’t see.
- Employing a guide. Authenticity is a lonely journey, but it can’t be done alone. The lone-warrior model of leadership is, in the words of Ron Heifetz, “heroic suicide.” Guides – those who can take us into the unfamiliar territory of our own development, can come in the form of therapists, coaches, confidants, recovery programs, and peer-mentoring groups.
- 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.”
Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with David Irvine, Founder of Irvine & Associates Inc., located in Cochrane, AB, Canada.
What’s your business, and who are your customers?
Through keynote addresses, seminars, leadership development academies, and SAGE (Self-Awareness Group Experience) Forums, we inspire and guide entrepreneurs and leaders to connect with their authentic selves so they can amplify their impact, create meaning and purpose in their life, and create accountable workplaces that align with people’s gifts, passion, and values.
Read the full interview here at https://gosolo.subkit.com/irvine-associates/
The Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, The Secret Garden, is the story of young girl whose parents die of cholera in India. She is sent to live with her uncle in a large British manor and when exploring the grounds of the estate, she discovers the entrance to a magical secret garden where anything is possible. Initially, the garden appears dead. But through her caring presence, she plants seeds, cultivates the soil, and eventually brings about a dramatic transformation of the entire garden within one season.
Stephen R. Covey used to say that we live three lives: public, private, and secret. In our public lives, we are seen and heard by the people around us. In our private lives, we interact more intimately with loved ones, family members, and close friends. The secret life is where our heart is and where our true motives and ultimate desires are revealed; it is where our authentic self resides.
Many leaders never visit the secret life. Their public and private lives are essentially scripted by everything around them and the pressures of their world. And so, they never find the key to the secret life: self-awareness. It takes courage to connect with our secret life. If we continually distract ourselves rather than seek the uncomfortable journey to the secret life, we distance ourselves from our true identity and the roots of meaning and purpose.
Leaders who attend our Authentic Leadership Academies have said, “This is the first time I’ve ever done any soul searching…” “This experience is the first time I’ve ever slowed down long enough to truly see myself…”
Most of us spend our busy days in our public and private lives, never pausing long enough to enter the secret life, the secret garden, where masterpieces are created, great truths are discovered, and every aspect of our existence is enhanced.
Everything moves in rhythm. Atomic particles, waves of electrons, molecules in wood, rocks, and trees, amoebas, mammals, birds, fish and reptiles, the earth, the moon, the sun, and stars… and we ourselves.
In a world alive with a myriad of rhythms, “entrainment” is the process by which these rhythms synchronize. Rhythmic entrainment is one of the great organizing principles of the world, as inescapable as gravity. And in the fast-paced era of technology, immediate gratification, and on-demand news and entertainment, the heart yearns to find its own rhythm away from the demands of consumption and pressures of the world. As the percussionist Tony Vacca once said, “If you can’t find your rhythm, you can’t find your soul.”
This summer, I experienced finding my own rhythm. I spent a day on the Bow River with Chas Waitt, an inspiring, caring, and human leader on our team, and Dana Lattery, a gifted fly-fishing guide (https://www.flyfishingbowriver.com). As a fly-fishing guide, Dana doesn’t just guide you to the fish. He guides you to yourself. The day wasn’t as much about fly fishing as it was about living connected to my heart, to each other, and to what truly matters.
And it was also a course in leadership. With the tag line, “Love People; Catch Fish,” love and service were integral principles in everything that went down: from the grace in the coffee shop to start the day, to the support, patience, and encouragement in learning to cast and untangling line, to his commitment to stewardship of the river, to how the fish were carefully handled before they were released, and to how I was treated in every interaction.
Here are a few of the lessons on leadership and life from spending a day on the river with Dana and Chas:
1. Leadership, like fly-fishing, requires a relaxed presence of mind. Fly fishing is an extremely complex process that takes time and experience. You don’t have to be perfect, but you miss opportunities if you aren’t present. You must, for example, wait and watch for any sign of movement in the water, mending when needed, and make sure the fishing line drifts naturally and effortlessly. This is the mastery behind guiding that enables Dana to make it look easy. But he’s paid attention for years so he can take his students to the fish with such accuracy it truly seems like magic.
2. You’ll never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul. No matter how many fish you catch, they all go back into the river. No matter what you accumulate, accomplish, or achieve in life, it all goes back into the river of life when it’s over. All that ever truly counts in life is the experience you have, the person you become, and the difference you make along the way. Life is lived in the present.
3. You won’t find ego in authentic leadership. Kindness crowds out arrogance. A genuine interest in others and what they care about replaces making yourself look good. Your self-confidence allows others to grow and flourish in an atmosphere of support because you don’t need the approval of others to evaluate yourself or make yourself look better than you are. Even the masters know they aren’t the smartest person on the boat.
4. Humanity is more important than the illusion of perfection. You don’t have to be perfect or create an appearance of flawlessness to be called a leader. Being human, creating a safe place to make mistakes and learn and grow and be inspired together, is some of what it takes to be a leader.
5. It’s all about showing up. None of this matters if you don’t show up. Accountability isn’t just about being able to be counted on when it’s easy. It’s about being there in the grind. It’s about embracing the suck. Showing up not only earns self-respect. Showing up inspires the respect and love of everyone around you.
6. Service is at the core. Servant leadership is a timeless approach that emphasises your priority as a leader: to attend to the people in your care. You won’t win in the marketplace until you win in the workplace. Take care of your people so they will take care of their people.
7. Fly-fishing is a call to simplicity that makes leadership and life better. The art of being authentic is really the art of being, of knowing and living in harmony with ourselves, connecting with the highest possibilities of our nature. And being connected with our nature requires being connected with nature. This requires stopping, disconnecting from the distractions and demands, and being present to the world around you. The good life and good work require good leisure: not just time that we are not on the job, but that is free from pressing expectations. Simple living doesn’t necessarily mean a quiet life. It can be filled with challenges and excitement. But it is important to take time to go slowly and to do things at the pace they are meant to be experienced – such as when eating a meal, talking with a colleague, returning an email, telling a story to a child, or walking the dog.
Discovering your authentic leadership concerns not the what and how but the who: who we are and the source from which we operate, both individually and collectively. We are clever people, efficient and high-powered, but in the zeal to get things done we can forget our humanity and the simple art of living. Let us make a resolve that we will begin to relax and saunter and be present, and take time to meditate and watch the sun go down behind the hill. Let us be good to ourselves. Let us s-l-o-w d-o-w-n to the speed of life.