Have you ever set a goal for yourself that left you feeling less than fulfilled when you actually achieved it?
Maybe it was a target you wanted to meet, a possession you longed to acquire, or a promotion you were hoping to receive. You kept your eye on the ball and hunkered down to do whatever it took to get there. When obstacles presented themselves, you busted through them and may have felt as though you were repeatedly banging your head against a wall. “The reward for your exhaustion would be the sweet taste of victory in the end,” you may have told yourself.
I did. And when I got to the top of the hill I was climbing I realized the mountain I was scaling was not mine, but someone else’s.
What if it didn’t have to be that hard?
Now, don’t get me wrong – I don’t expect to be carried around on a stretcher, nor would I want to be. But I do think it’s possible to enjoy the journey a little more. And if we didn’t insist on having to blaze the trail in front of us, we might find that off in the distance a lovely path is being revealed – if only we would stop long enough to pay attention.
When I take on new clients, they are often in the same state I have often found myself in. They have worked hard to get somewhere, but they know in their hearts there is something greater available to them. Perhaps they haven’t been getting the results they wanted, have been experiencing a great deal of stress or even burnout, or are just ready for a change. During times like these often the best thing we can do is not to speed up, but to slow down – way down.
If the path you’re running on isn’t getting you where you want to go, moving faster won’t do you any favors.
I have found over the years that the best leaders are not those who have all the answers, but rather those who ask the best questions. What are the possibilities? What are the opportunities? How are we uniquely positioned to make the most of them? In what ways can we leverage our strengths to rise up to our challenges? In asking such questions, these leaders bring to the surface answers, insights and knowledge people hold inside that allow great things to happen. Rather than imposing a vision on others, they allow it to develop collectively, with the knowledge that they can’t possibly see and accomplish everything singlehandedly.
Before these great leaders can do this for others, they must do it for themselves. So I challenge you (and myself as well) to focus on asking the important questions and to be still long enough to hear the answers.
In Native American cultures, young adults are sent on vision quests. These rituals involve sending the youth on a journey, packed with provisions that allow basic needs to be met. Instructions are simply to wander around and find a place that calls to them. Upon doing so, further direction is simply to sit and reflect. The belief behind this is that we do not necessarily need to actively find our vision. When we quiet ourselves and pay attention, our visions find us.
In our complex society, few of us have the time to go wander around the desert and sit for indefinite periods of time. So we need to make the time in our busy schedules to connect the dots. This may be a few minutes here and there. You may find yourself repeatedly daydreaming about something, or playfully entertaining an idea or possibility that will not allow itself to be dismissed.
These are critical pieces of information that, like pieces of a puzzle, will eventually come together to reveal a bigger picture. Pay attention to them, and do whatever is necessary to nurture and protect them. Capture these thoughts on paper or in your computer and add to them as new ideas continue to emerge. Some of these nuggets will become more valuable to you than others – like gold in the miner’s pan, they will begin to shine amongst the grains of sand.
Notice also the synchronicities that occur all around you that help make your visions real – chance encounters with people uniquely connected or qualified to help you, valuable information that effortlessly comes your way, and little serendipities that allow you to feel as though you are in the flow of something bigger than yourself. Chances are, you will be.
Enjoy the ride!
This article contains an exerpt from my new book The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming the Leader You Were Born to Be, available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.
For more on Finding Your Way:
Businessman picture by Nikola Hristovski from Dreamstime.com.
Jigsaw picture by Jasenka from Dreamstime.com.
The more I work with people, the more I realize how very similar and connected we all are. At one time or another, we all ponder deeper questions of who we are, what it all means, and how we can take what we’ve got and use it to make an impact in some small (or large) way. More and more, people seem to be focusing their energy and attention on creating a life of meaning and significance and bringing more of who they really are to what they do.
This act of bringing out the very best of ourselves and others and focusing unique talents, strengths and energy into something that contributes to a greater good is what I call leadership. It transcends vocation, title and role. And it is more important now than ever.
Every day gives us a new opportunity to learn more about what we are capable of, what is possible, and how we can become part of something greater than ourselves. We learn both through our disappointments and our successes, as well as those of others. The best leaders habitually look beneath the surface to behold something greater and find a way to leverage it. There is much to be said on the convergence of life, learning and leadership. And that is exactly what this blog is about.
I believe there is something to be gained from collectively musing and reflecting on every day experiences. Perhaps by examining seemingly unrelated events, we can understand and appreciate the synchronistic current that seems to pulse through all of our lives. In the process we can unearth and harness the raw potential that lies waiting to be rediscovered within each of us – and in so doing, practice true leadership.
I don’t have all the answers. It seems no one really does. But I do have a lot of questions. And sometimes all it takes to find what we seek is curiosity coupled with the awareness that these answers come from many sources. May this blog be one more source of that wisdom – through the collective pondering and musing of a community of seekers like me and all the people I have had the good fortune to cross paths with over the course of my life.
Welcome friends, and Namaste.
For more on learning from and leveraging your everyday experiences, download Life’s Perfect Classroom at www.DianeBolden.com/articles and subscribe to the Synchronistically Speaking ezine while you are there.