Becoming an everyday leader

So you want to become a change maker, but you are unsure of what that actually means? And what is this thing called purpose that everyone’s talking about? In this article we explore how a growing community of change makers are accessing a deeper level of their humanity to be a force for good.

Something is in the air. Over the past few years there has been a literal eruption of doing good initiatives that stand to change the face of business. Globally, there are now over 1800 B-Corporations who are using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. Concepts like Conscious Capitalism are flourishing, as are conferences on Purpose and The Future of Work.

While this is great to see at an organisational level, many individuals are left wondering, what does this mean for me? How can they best prepare themselves to do deeply meaningful work?

It’s a great question, because there is more to doing good than just the doing bit. There is also an important inner component to this kind of work, in who we are as people and in how we come together with others.

The essence of everyday leadership

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.” — Mahatma Gandhi

I became particularly interested in the importance of our inner lives last year while completing the Master of Applied Positive Psychology at the University of Melbourne. So much so, I made it the focus of my final thesis. In particular, I studied the common psychological traits showing up as part of this purpose driven business movement — exploring how this differed from business as usual.

This research led to the definition of a new mindset — a new psychology of success: The Benefit Mindset.

The Benefit Mindset describes society’s everyday leaders who look beyond personal success, to promote wellbeing on both an individual and a collective level. They believe in making an everyday difference, baking meaning and purpose into everything they do.

The Benefit Mindset gets to the heart of who we need to be and how we need to relate with others, in order to do what we want to do.

What’s exciting to see is that this new mindset is showing up around the world in numerous fields such as education, business and sustainability. It’s a hopeful sign that positive change is taking place, and there is a growing community of change makers that are wholeheartedly committed to co-creating a brighter future.

Developing an inner compass

How are everyday leaders creating these conditions in their inner lives?

The simple answer is; in one way or another, they are doing inner work.

Everyday leaders recognise that to genuinely contribute, we need to cultivate a mindful awareness of how our inner lives and the world out there can become partners in each other’s flourishing.

A popular pathway for doing this inner work is by enrolling in a leadership course, like the programs offered at the Centre for Sustainability Leadership, the Centre for Social Impact, Future Earth and Education Changemakers. Programs like this specialise in creating safe spaces for people to get in touch with their values, beliefs and higher purpose and explore what it means to be human in an interconnected world.

The 2015 fellows — Centre for Sustainability Leadership

Another popular option is to visit a school, like the School of Life, the Slow School of Business, B-School and Schumacher College. These schools are changing what is possible in education, empowering students with the necessary skills and character qualities to find their own way in an increasingly uncertain and volatile world.

There is also a number of emerging community groups like The Weekly Service, the Collaboratory Melbourne and Living Life Lab where everyday people come together to explore how they can live in a way that shapes a better future.

Spending time in the wilderness is a great way to get in touch with your inner life.

If courses aren’t your thing, you could always go for regular walks in nature, or take up a practice like yoga or mindfulness. The key takeaway here is that there is no right way to do inner work — and this is by no way a definitive list. The important thing is you find a practice or course that works for you.

Sounds easy? Well don’t be fooled, working on your inner life is vulnerable work. It’s about getting in touch with a deeper level of your humanity, recognising that you don’t need to be especially talented to make a difference — rather you need to make time to connect with the things you genuinely care about.

And make no mistake, doing inner work changes you. It changes the way you look at the world — and it changes what you believe is possible. At its core, it’s about discovering who you are and how you can become the change.

How do you want to live your life?

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make”. — Jane Goodall

Therefore, if you want to be a change maker that makes an everyday difference, what’s going on in your inner life matters.

Imagine a world where people more regularly got in touch with a deeper level of their humanity. Imagine what would be possible if more people created space in their lives to discover who they are and who they want to become. Imagine if our whole education system acted as a launching pad for doing things that really mattered.

That’s a world I’d like to live in.