21 WELLSPRINGS OF SELF-LEADERSHIP©
Evolve, prosper, thrive and achieve Eudaimonia.
Mastering self-leadership results in sheer happiness. It’s like all of a sudden you can fly and the sky is the limit.
INTRODUCTION TO THE JOURNEY
Eudaimonia is the well-being and happiness people experience when they continuously develop, lead an authentic and purpose-driven life, realize their full potential and feel the gratitude and joy which results from making a positive difference in the life of others. This in itself is the sheer happiness one feels when they master self-leadership. It’s like all of a sudden you can fly and the sky is the limit.
Self-Leadership involves Diverse Ingredients
Leadership ends up largely being about mastering Analytical, Emotional, Spiritual, Systems, Cultural, Collective and Intuitive Intelligences. These are elements which both overlap and complement each other.
Through education and professional development, we are usually focused on developing our analytical intelligence and only somewhat on the rest. Some sources refer also to these as being Left-Brain dominance and Right-Brain dominance. Unlike other knowledge we gather through our life, mastering Self-Leadership is less about acquiring complex knowledge and more about opening up to the wisdom of our body, heart, mind and soul through the right life and learning experiences.
1 — BRINGING IN BALANCE
Bring in moments of stillness and silence into your life and breath consciously.
Bringing in moments of stillness and silence will help you deal with the stress in your life, rest better but also allow you to tap into the profound wisdom we all carry within.
For that to happen, we need to learn to slow down even when it seems impossible and bring in moments of stillness that empower us to nurture the endurance we need to stay resilient.
Counterbalance too much technology by connecting and applying a personal touch.
We are constantly in touch through social media, email, phone, apps and they give us a sense of connectedness with many people. Nothing can however exchange the feeling of a true hug, the touch of a hand or looking into each others’ eyes.
Seek ways to truly connect with others and be personal and authentic in anything you do. There is something unique and sacred to that and no “heart” symbol or “like” icon can ever exchange that.
Dream big but stay present and attend to every small step. Balance work with the rest of your life.
Many of us live either in the past or in the future. However, as the famous saying goes, life is what happens while we make other plans. We learn from the past (not regret about it). We create our future by being clear about our dreams and intentions. We live and experience life in the present.
Being present is about cherishing every moment and at the same time the ability to be a witness to yourself- being aware of what you do in a given moment, how it makes you feel, what happens in your body, but also being able to stand away from it.. Being present is also about achieving balance between all aspects of our life and giving your full attention to everything that truly matters to you.
2 — ELIMINATING HINDRANCES
Tune into your fears to take care of your intrinsic needs. Face what scares and nourishes you.
The biggest fear we face in life is fear itself. We are afraid of being hurt, of not being good enough or not being successful enough. We fear change and unpredictability. That occupies our mind, blocks our bodies, prevents us from focusing on what’s important, keeps us stuck in our old habits and away from the possibilities life constantly brings.
Become witness to your voice of fear, listen to it, understand it, differentiate between real threats and perceived ones. Get rid of everything, which is not truly yours, everything you have picked along the way. Instead of neglecting or suppressing them, take care of your real needs and do what really nourishes you.
Get rid of insecurities, dare to be vulnerable and note what irritates you in others.
We all have felt inadequate at one point or another. Like a demanding teacher or a parent, our internal critical voice keeps telling us that we are not good enough, we should try harder, we should not have fun but work more. Become witness to this voice and start changing it from criticizing, condescending and disgracing, into loving, emphatic and accepting.
Dare to be vulnerable. It is great to be able to recognize own weaknesses and laugh about them. There comes a time when we realize that there is no such thing as weaknesses- only shadows of our strengths. Find them by starting with the things that really irritate you in others.
Find your authentic and compelling voice by being clear who you are and what you stand for.
Having a clear and compelling voice is often mistaken for being extroverted, talking a lot and being comfortable with speaking in front of strangers or a crowd. That could not be further from the truth.
To be heard, do not think of your own concerns and fears, do not think what others expect you to say. Having a compelling voice and being heard is about the authenticity and uniqueness of your message. People want to know who you really are, what you believe in, what you stand for, what they can count on you for. Only then they would trust you. Therefore, make your messages Meaningful, Memorable and Making a difference for somebody other than yourself.
3 — UNLEASHING CREATIVITY & PASSION
Tune into what truly inspires you and live with integrity and passion.
We spend a large part of our life listening to what others think, following what others expect of us, meeting societal norms of good and bad, following early years advice of parents and teachers.
The sooner we stop following other people’s truths and find what we believe in, what we want to do, what truly inspires us, the sooner we will get more happy and successful. As the famous saying goes, do not ask what the world needs but seek what makes you feel truly alive because what the world needs are people that have come alive. Living with such integrity to who we truly are opens the road to flourishing.
Cherish and foster creativity, imagination, beauty, and arts as the essence of being a human.
We sometimes talk of creativity and imaginations as skills, of beauty as a result and art as an option. Rather than being something we have invented or something we need to learn, creativity, imagination, sense of beauty and arts are intrinsic to us, they are our essence as human beings.
Invite them, provoke them and nurture them as a way to experience the ultimate level of creativity, freedom and proficiency.
Improvise, cherish humor, laughter and playfulness as the essence of being truly alive.
We are often so focused on following rules, procedures and plans that we forget to laugh, have fun and we think that we will fail or get embarrassed if we improvise.
The fact is we are all able to improvise by spontaneously following the inspiration of the moment. In such moments we intuitively know where we are going, even though we are in a completely new territory. These moments are about dropping expectations and plans, and inviting pure joy and inspiration.
4 — FOSTERING LEARNING
Be curious — exchange your voice of judgment with an open mind.
Each one of us has been driven at times by an internal voice of judgment. We see a face, hear a word or a sentence, and we already think we know where it is headed or we just instinctively react as being hurt or threatened. Judging before listening prevents us from learning new insights and perspectives, and becoming aware of our own assumptions. It hampers our learning and our relationships.
Being curious is about taking the time to listen deeply and without judgment or expectations, reflect on what we hear, and suspend obsolete habits of thought in the name of learning and evolving.
Learn more than expected, required or recognized by not just knowing, but being and doing.
Many people associate learning with education. However, learning is a daily and life-long process that is not about reading a book or listening to a lecture- although that is important as well. It is about trying out, experiencing, prototyping and as a result going to a new state of being that empowers us to do things in a new way.
The quality and speed of our learning is directly related to how well we do in life. In that process equally important is learning new things but also forgetting the obsolete ones.
Stay away of mediocracy and strive for excellence and greatness, but remain humble.
To thrive and succeed we need to stay away of mediocracy and conformity no matter how comfortable it feels, and strive for excellence by unleashing our own uniqueness and becoming our best.
Striving for excellence and staying humble sound like oxymoron but in reality they are different sides of the same coin. Striving for excellence is about continuous learning and development so that our true self can stand out and shine. Humbleness is the ultimate sign that we have done that and we have reached a state of wisdom that will support us in continuing to learn and make a difference every day.
5 — BUILDING RESILIENCE
Counterbalance ambiguity and complexity by striving for simplicity and deep clarity.
Forces of change come to us in many shapes and from different places bringing along a sense of an ever increasing speed, complexity, tension and even chaos. That requires us to shift perspectives, adapt to changes, challenge the status quo and obsolete mental models and provoke new insights that bring in deep clarity. This is about not getting bogged down in acts of people and events but seeking the underlying profound truths which are always the most simple ones as well.
Counterbalance volatility and uncertainty by slowing down, going agile, and creating meaning.
The faster the world goes around us, the more we need to slow down and reconnect to the truly meaningful things in life. Doing work in the garden, going for a long walk in the forest, spending time with our loved ones- moments like these ground us and we come out of them wiser and intuitively knowing what to do next.
To counterbalance volatility and uncertainty, we need to keep clarity as far as our overall intent and the big picture, while at the same time do things in small steps and continuously reevaluate them.
Bounce right back if you fail. Failure is an opportunity to learn and initiate a wiser beginning.
Many people are afraid of failure and this stops them from even trying. Life without failures does not exist as day does not exist without night and music does not exist without silence between the tones. If we do not want to ever fail, we have to settle for mediocracy and conformity.
What defines successful people is not that they never fail but that they stand up more times than they fail. Every time we do that, we become stronger and wiser.
6 — NURTURING YOUR SPIRIT
Be purpose driven and cherish what magnifies your spirit and greatness of mind and heart.
The most basic question everyone faces in life is why am I here and what is my purpose? Finding our own purpose is a journey that opens up to those that seek it. Many people walk through their whole life without venturing to even ask the question.
Instead of going on a long philosophical quest about the meaning of life, we invite you to start being witness to yourself and notice what makes your eyes shine, what makes you get up in the morning with laughter and passion, what warms your heart, what provokes your mind. By keeping track of those moments, the answer to the big question will come as well.
Take care of self to have energy to invest in others. The energy we invest in others is our soul.
At the start of a flight, mothers get advised in the case of loss of oxygen to first put an oxygen mask to themselves and then do the same for their children.
Similarly in life, we have no capacity and energy to think of others, make a difference with our life and be truly in service unless we take care of ourselves first. Take care of your real needs so that you have surplus energy available to invest in others. That surplus energy we invest in others is our soul. When we get too wrapped however in our perceived needs, we have no energy left for others. Differentiating between real and perceived needs requires wisdom that each one of us needs to develop before we can thrive and flourish.
Master the art of seeing opportunities where others see stumbling blocks and act on them now.
There is a financial crisis, jobs disappear, climate change makes us vulnerable, there is a war going on. The media keeps bombarding us with bad news and it is very easy to get trapped in a downward going spiral and a true desperation.
A favorite reframing question is “What is this problem a solution for?”. Instead of focusing on problems, it asks us to look at problems as a signal and opportunity to change something.
Are your thoughts and actions reflections of passion rather than fear, abundance rather than scarcity, collaboration rather than competition? If yes, you are a master of the art of possibility.
7 — STRIVING FOR MASTERY
Make decisions based on values, intuition and inspiration instead of instincts and beliefs.
According to Richard Barrett, “humans have developed six ways of decision-making: instincts, subconscious beliefs, conscious beliefs, values, intuition, and inspiration“. The difference between the first three and the second three is vast. Instincts-based decision‐making kicks in to help us survive and avoid dangerous situations. Belief-based decision-making requires us to “make meaning of our world through our beliefs and most of these beliefs have to do with our personal and cultural upbringing“, or in other words, our past and our environment. Values, intuition and inspiration are a new navigation that allows us to create a future that resonates deeply with who we really are, the human systems we are part of, and the world we want to live in.
Apply systems thinking as the discipline of seeing the whole and making sense of the full context.
Most of us remain focused our whole life on separate people, events and facts. When unhappy with the final outcome, we look for the guilty one or the knight in shining armor that will come and make things right. We keep treating symptoms rather than looking at the whole to find repeating patterns and the real reasons.
Wisdom and mastery are about provoking insights, knowing that there are always more perspectives to the one we currently hold, being comfortable with not knowing, striving to see the whole picture and the interconnectedness and interrelatedness of everything., finding underlying patterns and tuning into the heart, mind and soul in everything we do.
Be committed and patient as the ultimate way to nurture your quest and deep transformation.
Commitment is not about responsibilities; it is about the invitation to become what we were meant to become, the call to achieve our vital design.
Patience is not about inertness, but perseverance, drive and stamina because any worthwhile transformation entails hurdles and takes time.
MAKE THE JOURNEY GRACEFUL
Only with commitment and patience we find that a powerful force exists beyond ourselves and our conscious will, a force that helps us along the way, nurturing our quest and deep transformation. Experiencing synchronicities should bring a smile on our face and a confirmation that we are on the right track.
Mastering Self-Leadership requires getting to the core. This means opening up to everything which hinders you on your journey and to everything which can scale your impact and fulfillment. A journey like that does not need to be walked in solitude and exposed to too much peril and difficulty. A journey like that is always more graceful with the right company.
Originally published in August 2017