2 Essentials to Becoming the Leader of Your Life
The last years have been very challenging in so many ways. I've seen the challenges of course in my life and in the lives of the individuals I've coached.
I believe these times are calling us to step up - to step up into the role of leader.
And please, if you don't feel like a leader or you're thinking, "Janette, Leadership isn't me", you might like to start here, where we explore the topic and define it a bit more.
Most of my life, I never thought of myself as a leader. But for me, I've re-defined what it is to be a leader and certainly, I've spent time and effort in leaning in and learning to be that true leader of my own life.
As human beings, we are all born with the potential to become great leaders. However, many of us go through life without ever really connecting with this potential.
We may spend our days following the lead of others, trying to fit into a mold that doesn't truly represent who we are.
But what if we could take control of our own lives and become the leaders we were always meant to be? And what effect might this have on not just our own lives, but in our families, our workplaces, our communities, in the world as a whole?
Being a leader in your own life means taking responsibility for your own decisions, being clear about what's important to you as well as having the courage to learn from your mistakes and move on.
Element One: Connecting with Meaning
There were so many years of my life when I felt dis-satisfied. There always seemed to be something missing. Even when nothing was missing, it felt like something was missing.
In my coaching with hundreds of clients throughout the years, I’ve seen this over and over.
I see clients who are filling their days, but not necessarily being intentional about how they spend their time. They get swept away by situations, circumstances or the opinions of others.
And as we go through different stages of life, we need to connect and re-connect with what's most important to us, where we want to go, what we want to be spending time on, etc.
This idea of Meaning feels big.
And it is.
For me, it's about having the foundation in place for yourself. This foundation includes, among other things, 3 main questions:
What's most important to me in general and right now in my life?
Who do I want to be - in life, as a partner, a friend, a manager or in this particular situation?
What's the impact I want to have - in my own life, in the workplace, in my family, community, etc
Of course these are big questions within this big topic. And the process of answering them can take awhile. But the important thing is to be exploring the questions and answering them at the pace that feels right for you.
For me, it has been a crooked road in many ways. But I never stopped looking and putting together the pieces. And once I began answering the questions above (through my own coaching experience over 15 years ago), I began setting that foundation.
It's a foundation that has allowed me to feel more joy, more balance, more peace and certainly more meaning. I have a map of what I want to be moving toward in life. Sometimes these are specific things and sometimes they are more general until more clarity comes.
Right now, part of the Meaning Map I have includes Simplicity, Novelty & Adaptability as my partner, Bob, and I are embracing a more nomadic lifestyle. The picture featured is a recent morning walk in a new city.
So the questions for you right now are:
- How clear are you on the Meaning in your life right now?
- How are you connecting with this Meaning on a regular basis?
Element Two: Strengthening Your Mind Habits to Support Your Meaning
Exploring your Meaning and connecting with this consistently allows you to feel that direction and purpose. Having the questions above helps you navigate surprises and external road blocks.
But what about the internal roadblocks? What about those voices who tell you things like:
You don’t know what you’re talking about. Why would they listen to you?
What's the point of exercising? I didn't do it yesterday so I might as well skip today too. I’ve never been consistent with it so there’s no point.
You’re too old to start a new career
There's never enough time in the day
Habits of the mind, or what is sometimes referred to as mental habits, are patterns of thought that you engage in repeatedly and consistently. They're important because they influence how you perceive and interpret the world around you as well as how you respond to different situations.
They can support you in living more of your meaning or they can get in your way.
By cultivating positive habits of the mind, you can improve your overall mental health, increase your resilience to stress and adversity, and enhance your ability to connect more and more to your meaning.
When you have mind habits that serve you, it's like you have a cohesive team, all working together. Without that, your team includes that one member who brings everyone down, spends too much time on the negative and keeps you from achieving what you want.
Neuroscience research has shown that the brain is highly adaptable and can change in response to experiences and habits.
This phenomenon is known as neuroplasticity, and it means that you can rewire your brain by intentionally practicing certain habits of the mind.
And when people tell me they're too old to change (as my 92 year old mother likes to do sometimes), I remind them that there are neuroplasticity studies with people even into their 90s. This means our brain continues to have the ability to change and adapt as we age.
When you can begin identifying your habits and recognizing those that serve you and those that don't, you're able to get a clear picture of where you are.
You can strengthen those mental muscles and train them to support your meaning, your mission in life instead of getting in your way.
There will be more coming about this in the future. But for now, my questions for you are:
- Which mind habits lead you astray from where you really want to go?
- What mind habits of yours are serving you best right now?
Mind & Meaning - with these in place and by consistently coming back to them, you are leaning into this role of leader in your own life.