Tag Archive for: TheLeadersNavigator

CREATING A SATISFYING CAREER: How To Reclaim Your Mojo Through the Strength of Authenticity

When my daughters were planning their careers, I referred them to a quote from American philosopher and civil rights leader, Howard Thurman: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask instead, what makes you come alive. Because what the world needs is for you to come alive.”
There lies within every person a place where, when connected to it, we feel deeply and intensely alive. When we are in this place, there is a quiet voice inside that says, “This is the real me.” Where we lose all track of time. Where we don’t tire or need anyone to motivate us. In that place we are calm, creative, compassionate, committed, and capable. We’re accountable because we know that what we are doing matters and makes a difference. This is the place you find your mojo.
When we discover this place of authenticity in our work, it is called a vocation. When our life’s calling lies outside of our paid work, we call it an avocation. Both have validity and energy.
As leaders committed to creating authentic workplaces where people are engaged, loyal, committed, and accountable, we can help people discover their “real me.” Start by asking:
  • What makes you come alive?
  • What matters to you?
  • What is your own personal why, and how is this organization supporting you to realize that why?
  • How can we together create a place where you love to work?
  • What do we need from each other to take care of each other?
One of the primary barriers to finding our authentic voice is the reactive structuring of our lives. Allowing our to-do lists and the demands in our inbox to drive our activities ensures that the expectations of others will crowd out authentic discovery and expression. Combine this with the noise of a distracted world and you’ll eventually realize, in the light of time’s perspective, the vital task we’ve pushed aside – the task of leading a life aligned with our heart.
As we emerge from a summer of rest and fresh perspectives, there is an opportunity to reset the compass of our lives, develop a new structure for staying on track with our authenticity, and recreating a workplace aligned with our true nature.
Here are a few actions to consider:
  • Set aside time to ask the questions (outlined above) of yourself. You must be intentional and deliberate about discovering your authenticity. You can’t leave it to chance.
  • Shift from the list/reactive method to a boundaried focused approach to your work. While you may have parts of your day checking off your to-do list and responding to the expectations of others, block out time each day for uninterrupted focus on what truly is important to you and to those you love and serve.
  • Assess your mental fitness plan. Many of us have a physical fitness plan, but few have a strategy and accountability plan for strengthening our mental fitness.
  • Create a community of support and inspiration. Whether in the form of guides, coaches, confidants, or accountability partners, we all need to know we aren’t alone. Authenticity is a lonely journey, and it can’t be done alone.

Journalling – How To Get Going And Keep Going

Journalling – How To Get Going And Keep Going

Connection to others is critical in good leadership and starts with connection to yourself. Journalling is a great tool for self-connection.

Here are some guidelines to get you going and keep you going:

  1. Buy a nice journal. I love a good leather-covered one I can feel proud to write in.
  2. Have a regular time to write – in the morning, at the end of the day, or, for example, every Sunday morning as you reflect on the past seven days and the week ahead. I like to spend five minutes journalling when I first come in the office, before I turn on my computer. It helps me connect to myself before the barrage of the world’s demands start hitting me.
  3. Experiment with structure. Sometimes journalling is a brain dump, a process I learned from Julia Cameron. Her journalling method is three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing. Other times I use a structure of a) How am I feeling? (Including wins in the past 24 hours, lessons learned, and glitches); b) How will I show up today? c) What am I grateful for?
  4. Write less than you think you “should.” Like exercise, it’s better to have small consistent successes than big failures. Two or three sentences is great while you’re getting into the habit.
  5. Don’t show it to anyone. You aren’t writing to impress anyone. It won’t be graded. It is only for you.
  6. Don’t sweat it if journalling doesn’t work for you. It isn’t for everyone. There are lots of other tools for connecting with yourself.

There’s a principle in boxing that timing beats speed and speed beats power.

There’s a principle in boxing that timing beats speed and speed beats power. Whenever I’m up against my sparing partner and I feel less power, and I “try harder” to be more powerful it never ends well. It weakens my power, decreases my speed, and throws my timing way off.

I’ll never outpower someone who is stronger than me. All I can do is back it up and work on my timing and speed (which, to say the least, is tough at my age).

This is how boxing is similar to leadership. Leaders who don’t acknowledge their weakness or insecurity or fear will “try” to be more powerful by using their positional authority. Like in the boxing ring, this won’t end well. As Margaret Thatcher said once, “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you, you aren’t.”

Leadership, like boxing, is much more about timing than power. When you get promoted, after all, you don’t get more power. You get more accountability.

Like in boxing, work on your timing, your connections, your balance, the fundamentals – and power will naturally follow – through your presence, not your position. “Trying” to be powerful will only weaken you.

My questions for the day:

  • What does “timing” mean in your world?
  • What would you describe as your fundamentals – that increase your ability to influence?
  • How is leadership for you about presence rather than position?

Pruning: Growth Depends on Letting Go Of The Unwanted Or Unessential

We have a thirty-foot rubber tree growing in the middle of our living room. About every six months we have to get up on the ladder and cut back the branches that push into the ceiling and the window.

Leading is akin to gardening, where we co-create an environment around us that enables the flourishing of life. Any gardener knows that pruning is a part of tending to a garden. A plant that is overgrown, gangly, or unhealthy needs to be thinned, cut back, or dug up. In its exuberance to grow, it seems to be the nature of growing things to get overgrown at times. In our case, we prune in order to manage the size of this tree. When it’s overgrown, it will crowd out the very light of the window it’s reaching for.

Like pruning a garden, our lives periodically need some cutting back.

What, in your life or your leadership, needs pruning?

  • What relationships that you have outgrown need to end?
  • What habits need to be re-evaluated and discarded?
  • What clutter in your life needs to be let go of?
  • What needs to end in order to allow for new growth?
  • What people on your team are holding you back and need support to move on?
  • What difficult conversations are needed now?

The Law Of The Echo

Years ago, when I was first teaching about accountability, a young, enthused leader approached me.
“Your philosophy of bringing an ownership, self-responsible mindset to work reminds me of the Law of the Echo.”
“What’s the Law of the Echo?” I asked her.

“It means that whatever you bring to the world will come back to you – ten-fold. It’s like what Gandhi meant when he said, ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world.’ If you want more accountability in your organization, don’t wait for others to step up to the plate. Instead, be more accountable. If you want more love in a relationship, be more loving. If you want more appreciation at work, get so busy appreciating others that you won’t have time to feel sorry for yourself for not getting enough acknowledgement.”

This conversation and explanation of the Law of the Echo has stayed with me for years. It’s worked for me on my team, in my volunteer work, and in my family. It’s a great formula for having a better marriage. It’s a great reminder when I find myself frustrated, blaming, or waiting for someone else to change.

My father likely would have said it this way: “It isn’t greener on the other side of the fence. It’s greener where you water it. “Grow where you are planted,”

Spread The Light

I love this time of year. When it’s the darkest, we see a festival of lights throughout our communities.
I love our family ritual of unpacking Christmas stuff and spreading light throughout the house. And even though I usually spend the time on the couch, I love being a part of the annual decorating of the tree. When I am brightened and calmed by the light on our tree, it reminds me of the difference between leaders and learners.
Leaders bring a bright light to their work and spread it wherever they go. On the other hand, learners often, through their suffering, dim their light and the light of those around them.
Take some time to pause and ask yourself: What are you doing to keep your light bright? What are you doing to spread that light to the people in your life? Wherever you go today, and whoever you encounter, bring the gift of your light to the people around you.
The gift may be a compliment, a message of appreciation or encouragement, or simply taking the time to be there with empathy and compassion. Today, make it a point to give a gift of light to everyone you come into contact with.
By doing so, you begin the process of celebrating joy, compassion, and affluence in your life and the lives of those around you.