I first got interested in the power of Leadership training 34 years ago when I went to a “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” workshop at Procter & Gamble (where I worked). Stephen Covey’s principles just made easy sense, and I could remember them 🙂
The first principle in Seven Habits is “Be proactive; not reactive.” In other words, take responsibility for our own attitudes, feelings, behaviors and ideas. Don’t lean back and wait for someone else to fix a problem or even worse, don’t just complain on the sidelines without directly trying to be a part of the solution. Listen deeply, be impeccable with our words, make clear agreements and commit. (kind of like Don Miguel Ruiz’s advice in “The Four Agreements.”
I bring these ideas up because I’m seeing interesting “ahas” with leadership students and clients. We all have lots of ideas. We can learn all of the skills, models and behaviors of effective leaders, but eventually it comes down to one question, “Do we want the change enough to lean in?
Whether in a professional or personal situation, do we want to take the personal responsibility/initiative to work towards the potential we see in our mind? Are we willing to take the risk:
- to listen more deeply to ourselves and others?
- to become microscopically honest?
- to work through to clear alignment on agreements?
- to personally commit?
Leadership is about each of us breathing deep, stepping in and trusting that as we walk forward with clarity and inner alignment, the bridge will appear.
That’s why the work of understanding our deeper values, our vision for how we want to show up in the world is critical. Understanding our inner purpose, or as I like to say, our inner bullseye, is so powerful. It helps us remember when we get into tough situations.
This awareness reduces our sense of risk because we know why we are making certain decisions and actions. This awareness allows us to pause, to take a breath before reacting. It brings us back home to ourself before impulse, adrenaline and fear can jump into the driver’s seat.
So this week, if you feel any places in your life where there is some angst or frustration or opportunity, pause. Think about what the leader inside you that aligns with your values would do and lean in. Expand into possibilities. Listen, be honest, clarify agreements and observe any shifts. Taking a few minutes each evening to reflect any observations in a journal can continue to deepen our growth in awareness.
May we all remember that in order to ski down a steep mountain, we need to bend our knees and lean forward. If we lean back, we can lose our control. As I wrote last year, a two degree shift is much bigger than you think.