I recently wrote a post titled “From Striving To Thriving” which was about doing from an intentional way of being.
In that article I attempted to unpack the idea of showing up in a way that is aligned with our most cherished values, and how anchoring to this way of being can underpin our ability to thrive and feel inspired.
Just as we can come to believe that what we do is what is most valuable and important about us, we might also come to believe that what we have is the primary measure of our worth in the world.
Limiting Belief: Who I am = What I have
The modern world bombards us with many messages that reinforce the belief that who we are equates somehow to what we have.
Decoupling our understanding of our own worthiness from what we have, and instead learning how to anchor our worthiness in who we are can be both incredibly difficult and incredibly transformative work.
As kids, in addition to wanting to prove ourselves through good grades and sports trophies, we were also conditioned to yearn for all the stuff we saw on TV commercials. We came to believe that our Kmart branded bike meant that we were in some way “lesser than” our friend who had the BMX from the bike shop (a small point of clarification here – back when I was growing up Kmart was not considered “cool”).
In the world of business we see leaders overly-focussed on having when people squabble over the perceived seniority of job titles, when we invest an inordinate amount of leadership time debating and explaining the intricacies of bonus structures and payments or when senior leaders act like spoilt toddlers stubbornly refusing to let go of the status symbol of their office when their organisation transitions to activity-based working.
For me, the powerful song from “Never Enough” by Loren Allred, from the musical The Greatest Showman captures the exhaustion of a never-ending pursuit of having.
All the shine of a thousand spotlights. All the stars we steal from the night sky will never be enough. Never be enough. Towers of gold are still too little. These hands could hold the world but it’ll never be enough.
Never be enough for me.
Put in another way, through the wonderful words of the Dalai Lama:
“The ultimate source of happiness is not money and power, but warm-heartedness. No material object, however beautiful, can make us feel loved.”
Of course, I am not suggesting that there is anything inherently wrong with doing and having. I live in the real world and I enjoy working hard and having nice things.
However, what I am beginning to understand, and what I am trying to share in these two article, is that when we let go of the striving, grasping and the proving and when our doing and our having starts to flow from an intentional way of being that is congruent with our deepest values… then we become truly thriving and inspiring leaders.
If you take a few moments to think about the people who have had the greatest impact on the world in this lifetime, you may realise that the source of power and influence of truly great leaders comes from who they are. The source of their power is their capacity to fully embody a way of being that inspires and awakens the hearts of others – often in the face of tremendous challenges.
If you are curious to learn more about a quest of self-discovery to the core of who you are as a leader, reading Margaret J. Wheatley’s powerful book “Who Do We Choose To Be?: Facing Reality, Claiming Leadership, Restoring Sanity” is a great place to start.
“This book is born of my desire to summon us to be leaders for this time as things fall apart, to reclaim leadership as a noble profession that creates possibility and humanness in the midst of increasing fear and turmoil. I know it is possible for leaders to use their power and influence, their insight and compassion, to lead people back to an understanding of who we are as human beings, to create conditions for our basic human qualities of generosity, contribution, community and love to be evoked no matter what. (…) I can’t imagine a more important task than to consciously choose who we want to be as a leader for this time. We must understand the time we’re in, focus our energy on what is possible, and willingly step forward to serve the human spirit”.
If we are to truly transforming the organisations we are part of, we must find the courage to transform our own leadership and to reflect on the very simple, yet very important question: Who do we choose to be as leaders?
A little bit about me…
I am a mindful leader driven by a strong sense of purpose and a deep commitment to the creation of inspiring, human-centric workplaces where people and performance thrive. I have enjoyed a 20-year career as a thriving business leader having held a range of senior executive roles in Australia and overseas, including Global Director of Employee Engagement & Wellbeing at Bupa where I had the honour of contributing to the health and happiness of 86,000 employees globally. Today my work spans a portfolio of consulting, coaching, writing and speaking. In addition to my own private practice, I am a Thrive Global coach and facilitator. Thrive Global was founded and is led by Arianna Huffington with a mission to end the global epidemic of stress and burn-out.