When consulting business groups and individuals in transition, I’ve had clients tell me: “It must be nice to sit where you are and view this mess of ours from the outside.” OK, perhaps it is. Right up until it dawns on me that I’m never really outside the mess. I’ve got my own messes to deal with, in life and in running a growing company. Take this blog, for instance.
I signed up to write this blog–it was my idea, for pete’s sake–thinking it would be a logical extension of what I do, another opportunity to teach what I know about personal vitality, about learning, growing, and increasing leaders’ capacity to perform and achieve in a way that doesn’t invite burn-out. This should be easy, I thought, and my first draft–I won’t lie–fell flat on its face.
Two different colleagues each offered more words in critique than I had put into the draft itself. I went through the emotional stages my clients go through when facing corporate change, or moments of personal flux, starting with disbelief and protest. I thought, “I know how to write!”
One of my colleagues said “personalize it.” The other said “tell a story.” OK, fine, but I also want this blog to provide something useful (a tool, a way of thinking) to you, dear reader. And I want to address the stress leaders are feeling in today’s business environment. And my web group says I should keep it under 600 words. Funny, I’m feeling a lot like my clients when they’re under the gun, overwhelmed with critique and demands, and short on time and energy. (If only I knew someone who could coach me through this.)
Re-set. Re-think. Re-ground.
That’s what I told myself, then I went for a run. The Garden of the Gods, a red-rock park true to its auspicious name, is just the right place for a little humility, a big-picture perspective. It was an unseasonably warm Colorado day, breezy, invigorating. I didn’t think much about blogs. I thought about stories, my story: what I’m good at, what I struggle with… And in the end I came to the realization that I’m comfortable writing a leader-to-leader blog because I’m right here in the mess with you.
I do write academic research studies, formal articles and reports, even my own book … but as I’ve been gently coached by my colleagues, that’s not what you’ll find here. In the dispatches to come, I hope you’ll join me for the very real applications of the principles that inform my work. If you believe in human energy, emotional wellness, physical well-being, and win-win relationships as the ultimate source of leadership capacity, then you’re in the right place. If you believe that health and vitality create performance rather than the other way around, then let’s go on this journey together.
Although my learning process is not always graceful, I’ve realized that the anxieties of business and life are actually helping me to:
- Re-set my priorities toward what really matters
- Re-think my assumptions about how and why I’m a leader
- Re-ground myself in values and goals that serve something beyond me
I could react to the daily shocks of a world in turmoil with my usual “make-it-happen-through-willpower” strategy (and, I’m certainly not finished employing this strategy, my personal favorite). But every day I seek a healthier approach, one which brings a wellspring of creativity, energy, balance, and stamina to my life, growth to my company, and service to the world. I’m learning—even in the challenge of writing a blog—that my personal sustainability is my greatest tool for navigating the unfamiliar and for being an agent of positive change.
Wherever you are in the business world’s current flux, that advice may serve you as well as it did my first blog entry. (651 words: no charge for the extra 51!)