October 2, 2020
Whether you embrace the title or not, you’re a leader. As a professional, parent, friend, or all of the above, you lead others. And as a leader, it’s important to lead well. Why? Because not only do others need you, you need you.
I’ve always felt comfortable serving as a leader over the years. It’s something that came naturally to me in both my professional and personal pursuits. I likened leadership to stewardship. Supervising. Taking care of something. Some might argue that I likened it to being a control-aholic.
And honestly, I wouldn’t argue with them.
Leadership, when not executed well, can feel bossy and controlling. And no one wants to be led by someone who can’t take her/his finger off of any given situation. Someone who can’t step away and simply allow a process to unfold without micro-managing every aspect of it.
A true leader can’t lead others well if she/he is not leading her/himself well.
Imagine following behind a driver, expecting to reach your destination, when the driver in front of you has no idea where she’s going. Or trying to complete a project with your team when you’re clueless about what the project is actually about. Sounds silly, right?
Yet this is what we inadvertently do as leaders!
Leading well begins with you, first naming what you’re actually doing.
Here’s a critical question: are you leading, or are you stewarding?
As I reflect on prior leadership roles, I can see now that I was more of a steward. My heart longed to inspire others, co-create, and cast vision. However, my actions tended more towards control, often leaving me to work on projects alone. And if I’m honest, doing so only reinforced the false truth I’d told myself over the years — that is, if I don’t do it, it won’t be done well.
Does that sentiment resonate with you? If so, perhaps it’s time to shift your thinking about what it means to serve as a leader.
You can only lead well to the extent that you’re willing to be honest. And the honesty begins with you.
Leadership, in my opinion, begins with having a clear mind. It’s impossible to lead from a space of outer chaos and inner confusion, where the mind is overwhelmed with distractions at every turn.
To lead well is to live well. Rest well. Be in the present well.
A fellow writer, Sam DeCosmo, shares ideas about how to be present more often by practicing mindfulness. Check out her recent blog, “Learning to Be Mindful,” here: https://apurposeinpain.com/learning-to-be-mindful/.
I was first introduced to mindfulness as a doctoral student in the early 2000s. If I’m honest, I thought it was strange and somehow linked to religious practice, which lessened my interest in the experience altogether. However, I began to learn more about it in school and utilize a few of the exercises at home.
Of course, my life didn’t suddenly shift. I didn’t experience a revolutionary change in my attitude. And life as a whole didn’t become blissful or rosy.
But I did notice that as I focused my thoughts, became more still, and gradually embraced being in the here-and-now (vs. mentally lingering in the past or worrying about the future), I began to think more clearly. Practicing mindfulness for 3-5 minutes before classes and exams became my norm. And I’ve never looked back! Nearly 15 years later, I continue to incorporate mindfulness into my daily routine.
If you’re wondering how you might begin integrating mindfulness into your routine, I challenge you to simply begin. Mindful: Healthy Mind, Healthy Life (https://www.mindful.org/) is a great place to start.
Cheers to your mindfulness journey!
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