A wise mentor and confidant delivered this message to me recently. His well-timed, well-articulated advice challenged my way of thinking.
Basically, I’m a hope junky. I love working today for what I hope will be for my tomorrow. So as I wrap my head around how hoping might not be in my best interest, I’m trying to be open-minded to a new life rubric.
My friend is right about one thing: I spend a lot of energy vision casting and imaging what I’d like to be, what I’d like to do, and what I’d like to experience. My mind is in my future a lot, which allows me to bypass my fears in the present.
If you were to ask me, “What are you afraid of?” my instinct might be to tell you nothing. But if I were to sit still with myself and dig in, I’m sure I’d reacquaint myself with my insecurities, inadequacies, and – in generals – several self-made barriers and beliefs that have kept my ego safe, but have put some limits on me that I’m probably not even aware of.
This is deep stuff … I know. But to grow as leaders, we can’t wade in the shallow waters.
Courtney and I were talking recently about the pace of life and how hard it is to find these moments of stillness, as well as the pressures we face that take our mind off the moments at hand. I’m sure you know those pressures, too.
- Will what I’m doing right now pay off tomorrow?
- Am I on the right track?
- Are these choices the best ones for me?
We’ve taken it on as a personal challenge to sit still, exist in moments of discomfort, and embrace the here and now. Here are some things we’re trying:
- Breathing. Literally. I’ve just started to practice meditating. I hate sitting still, so this is a tough one for me. But I’m growing to realize that the thing I want to do least is probably the thing I should do most.
- Staring Down Fears. I’m trying not to walk away from the things I‘m afraid of and, instead, walk towards them. There’s a lot here to explore.
- Embracing Hopelessness. It’s not that you can’t have expectations or dreams. Just put energy in the present. Hopes can be mirages. What is real and what you can influence is this present moment. Take care of now.
Challenging our thoughts and shaping our behaviors is what leaders do. Not only does it ensure continuous growth, but it allows us to get to know ourselves better. I’ve long said and believed that the most important relationship a leader has is the one with themself.