Who is the leader – you or the circumstances?
Today I start with a question. Are you a leader? Maybe you think, you are not a leader or you are not born to lead. Perhaps you believe that there are plenty of other people, bolder, more extrovert types as you, who are far more skilled for leadership. But you? No! Then I would like to invite you to a little experiment, to consider leadership in a different way. For example, like this:
- Leadership does not start at the point where it comes to lead other people – leadership starts with your personal life!
- Leadership does not mean to have power over others, but is a service – you could even say it is the highest form of service.
1. Leadership starts with yourself
Do you run your life or does your life run you? Read this question several times until you really get it in your system. Do you make decisions consciously or unconsciously – or part-part? All day long we are making decisions, but mostly we are not aware of these decisions. And if that is so, the probability is high that your lives runs you, rather than vice versa.
An example: The alarm clock rings in the morning at 6.00 a.m. Perhaps you get up because you have children, for which you have to make breakfast or a job that requires you to be present at 8.00 clock. So you don’t really have a choice than to get up, although you may still be tired. In order to get ready for work you put on a freshly ironed shirt and a suit, even though you feel more comfortable in blue jeans and T-shirt, but your employer and your customers, expect from you that you dress up. You have accepted this job some years ago because you make more money there than in your previous job and that was absolutely necessary, so that you can pay off the installments for the house you bought. You do not really like your work, but you had no other choice. The loan installments must be paid on a monthly basis and really, you should be glad that you got this job. At least your partner repeats that again and again …
If your life goes like this and you usually have the feeling that you have no choice or that you are forced by circumstances to do something or not, then probably you don’t sit behind the steering wheel of your life, but you react automatically and unconsciously according to the rules and laws of your own box. Your box has only one goal, which is to ensure your survival. So you live in a survival mode, which constantly tells you that you have no other options. As the box, however, is a part of you, it’s only half the truth, that you are not sitting at the steering wheel yourself. The impression, that things are not in our own hands, is just a clever illusion of your box to prevent you from looking for a different goal than survival. In truth you are a leader unconsciously pretending that you are not a leader! Because if you would run your life consciously, your box would freak out at once and would trigger the feeling of fear of survival! But we all are capable and equipped with the necessary qualities to take over the leadership of our own lives!
Leadership in relation to your personal life means that you always have the choice, even if you can’t see it, and that you use this choice – not only to survive, but to create your life according to what is really important for you. Your first tool to take the lead over your life is your attention. One possible experiment could be, for example, that you put your attention for some time on how you make your decisions. And I do not mean the big, important decisions, but the many small unconscious decisions – from the moment in the morning when the alarm clock rings and you decide to get up. Observe yourself in everything you do or do not, why exactly are you doing it? Make yourself aware of unconscious decisions and follow them back to your intention. Is your intention to survive or to be your destiny in action? To take the lead of your own life means to align your decisions to your calling (note: for this you do not yet have to know what your calling exactly is). If you perform this experiment for a while, you’ll be surprised of how many unconscious survival decisions you make during one day. Let yourself be touched by this clarity! Something completely different is possible – right now!
2. Leadership is the highest form of service
In our society we forgot that leadership is a service and not a position of power. Because of the hierarchical pyramid systems in business or in politics the purpose of leadership has changed from being at service to securing one’s own position of power (which means nothing else than survival). The air up in the pyramid is getting constantly thinner and so leaders mostly feel forced to fight for their position, instead of fulfilling their true task in serving the higher principles of the country, the company or the team. But leadership in its responsible form is a service – true leaders put themselves in the service of something bigger. They make themselves available for this bigger goal putting aside their personal interests.
Applying this to your individual life, where it is perhaps not about leading others: what could this higher goal be, which you serve as a leader and what you can align your life to consciously instead of just surviving? Just as each state follows certain higher principles (in Germany for example this would be unity, justice and freedom as the national anthem says) and each company (e.g. quality, customer orientation, teamwork, etc.), also every single person, including you, has at least a handful of higher principles, which are close to your heart. In Possibility Management, we call these principles bright or destiny principles because they form the basis for our calling. My destiny principles are for example: clarity, possibility, liveliness, transformation, beauty and service. And yours? I’m sure, that you can tell one or two of your destiny principles right now, merely because you know that there is such a thing. Your destiny principles are already active in your life, even though you are not aware of it. They are the reason for example that you love certain books or certain movies or that you feel comfortable in specific places, etc.
When you consciously decide to stop trying to pretend that you are not a leader, and exchange the survival mode against the purpose to be your destiny in action, then it is helpful to get to know your bright principles. When you know your principles, you can in a next step commit to these principles and thus kindle an insatiable fire within yourself, so that you cannot do anything else than to be your destiny in action for the rest of your life. It will be far more difficult for your box then to pull you back into the survival mode.
And then your day could start like this:
The alarm clock rings in the morning at 6.00 a.m. You thank your alarm clock for reliably waking you up and get up. The next half hour belongs to you alone. You stretch your body with a bit of gymnastics and you meditate to connect consciously to your bright principles. Now you are ready – you are available. The next hour you give your attention to your family. You prepare a delicious, nutritious and healthy breakfast without haste. It is important to you that your kids, your partner and you have a good and healthy start in the day. At breakfast you enjoy being with your family and sharing. In order to get ready for work, you put on a freshly ironed shirt and a suit. You want to express your appreciation to your customers by being well dressed and you rejoice when your customers feel comfortable in your presence, etc.
Do you notice the difference? We are born to take over the leadership for our lives! And leadership is a conscious decision.
Patrizia Patz (Servidio)