Leadership is Really Hard. That's Why You Have to Make It a Practice.
Usually, sometime around their second or third session, my coaching clients realize that all this Unstuck Leadership stuff I’ve been going on about on this blog and in The Unstuck Leader is hard. Really hard.
It’s hard to manage our needs for certainty and significance. It’s hard to continually prioritize truth over comfort. It’s hard to identify the maladaptive systems at play in ourselves, as well as in our organization. It’s hard to let go of what’s not working. And, it’s hard to create an environment where co-creation happens around us, in spite of us and occasionally through us.
That’s why it takes daily commitment. Leadership is a practice.
It’s up to us to create the circumstances in which we are most likely to commit to doing all the things we need to do to be great leaders. For some of us, it’s mindfulness, in the form of meditation, or yoga, or cooking, or running, or knitting, or whatever it is that quiets our minds and propels us to a singular focus. For others, it’s a morning routine. For others, it’s visualization.
Writer and entrepreneur James Altucher realized that there are four things that if done consistently, help him weather any storm, up to and including losing several million dollars in a single day (here’s Altucher’s terrific interview with Chase Jarvis where he talks about that million-dollar loss). With this knowledge, he created a check-box system. Each day, he just checks the boxes:
Am I doing something for my physical health?
Am I doing something for my personal relationships?
Am I doing something creative?
Am I practicing gratitude?
Just doing those four simple things every day has given James exceptional resilience. And if an Unstuck Leader is anything, it’s resilient.
I have a system not unlike James’s four simple things. I like to remind myself of four simple truths.
First, I remind myself that I am brave. I start with that one because as Maya Angelou said, “Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because it allows you to practice the others with consistency.”
Next, I remind myself that I’m grateful. For my husband, my family, my friends and my clients as well as the times the streetcar shows up just as I get to the stop.
I remind myself that I am kind. Not nice. Nice is superficial. I mean genuinely kind.
And, I remind myself that I’m doing my best. And I am.
Take a moment to think of four things (or three or five) that if committed to daily, might help you practice your leadership with more calm and grace. What would your life be like if you simply did them? How would you feel differently? How would you show up for your employees, colleagues and bosses? How would you show up for your family and friends? What would become possible for you?
There is one more secret to leadership as a practice. And we’ll talk about that next week.