We live in a complex world. Technology is evolving on a daily basis, the news is constantly breaking and it can be difficult to stay in touch and up to date both professionally and personally. As a result, we tend to over complicate things in life – and in leadership.
As a leader, it can sometimes be difficult to discover your true purpose in life and live and lead according to it. I’ve always wanted to do a good job and wanted to be accepted, and sometimes just wanting to fit in can put us under a lot of pressure.
It’s important to get valuable feedback
One thing that I’ve found is valuing others’ opinions over your own can be debilitating. Trying to become everything to everyone means we become nobody to ourselves. Instead, we need to try and become someone to ourselves, which in turn will make us someone to others; it’s not rocket science!
Of course, when it comes to leadership, it’s important to get valuable feedback from people around you and use that feedback, whether in a workplace or just from family and friends. But perhaps we should focus more on giving ourselves feed-forward (a different way of thinking about feedback), rather than relying on others for it.
Time is a great healer
When it comes to giving yourself feed-forward on a difficult situation, time is a great healer. When you reflect on a situation sometime after, things don’t seem so bad and time can fundamentally alter your outlook, allowing you to focus more on what really matters.
I remember a recent argument I had, it was with someone from a call centre. I remember that, hours after the argument, I found myself thinking of all the things I could have said to them to make my argument better.
On reflection, the after effects of that argument actually ruined most of my morning! But actually, I found that I remembered the event from a different perspective later on in the day and didn’t seem so angry about it anymore.
Time can change your perspective of an event or situation and transform your whole experience of it. It’s important that we focus on changing our own circumstances in order to achieve our “why”, because if we rely on outside circumstances to change in order to live and lead with direction, we may have to wait a very long time!
I am not saying don’t seek feedback at all
If you’re struggling with your own thoughts and feelings about yourself, looking for the answers to your “what next for me” questions and are constantly seeking feedback either at work or through family and loved ones, you end up not seeing how amazing you truly are.
The result is that you measure your success and self-worth through the eyes of another, which isn’t good for effective leadership. I should know, I’ve done it for years. I am not saying don’t seek feedback at all. Just notice how much importance you place on others’ feedback versus your own feed-forward.
Make a shift in your perspective
We all want recognition, acceptance and to feel like we fit in at some point in our lives. Tom Marshall describes this as the spiritual dimensions of intelligence underpinning leadership. But it’s very important to pay attention to the degree in which you seek approval from other people.
I suggest making a shift in your perspective and being proactive in seeking approval from yourself, then you’ll no longer be dependent on external circumstances.
Next time you’re reflecting on an event or situation you’ve been involved with, I invite you to ask yourself these three questions:
- What did I do well there and what should I do more of next time?
- What could I do next time to improve the situation for all involved?
- What am I grateful for in myself?
If you do this regularly and use your own values as a benchmark for thinking, feeling and behaving, you will be much more successful at using your values to live through your true purpose – your “why”. This gives you direction in times of change and upheaval.
So how do I find my ‘why?’
Your ‘why’ is the reason why you are here, and choose to lead and live in the way you do. It is informed by your values. Leading authentically is knowing your “why” and consciously choosing to use it as your anchor in every moment.
The way we find our purpose is by living intentionally everyday. Intent is the heart that pumps the blood of purpose. It’s simple.
Choose a single word as an intent for everyday
Choose a word, any word, to set as your intention for the day ahead. This can be anything. Although personally, I like to choose words that tie in with my values. They motivate me to be a certain way. They drive my thinking, feeling and doing.
Hold that word in the front of your mind when you are in conversations, meetings or presentations. Allow it to influence the way you stand, speak and use your body language. In other words, allow it to drive what others see. In time, you will begin to notice your intentions build your purpose; your “why”, and ultimately help you to lead in a meaningful and authentic way.
It’s easy to over complicate things in life and leadership but this is a simple and effective way to build trust, make better decisions, focus on the things that matter, reinvent your style and lead with purpose – becoming an authentic and truthful leader.