Earlier this month, I was given the opportunity to speak to hundreds of business women and men at the Women’s Leadership Forum in Chicago. It was a phenomenal event from start to finish-the speakers, level of organization and energy from women leaders across the country was inspiring. Although this event pushed me to step out of my comfort zone of working one-on-one or with small to mid-sized groups, I went away feeling so blessed and empowered for having the courage be a part of it and the opportunity to share my passion for personal development and coaching.
Because of my past work as a business consultant and now as a coach, I have seen some amazing parallels between successful organizations and successful individuals. We can take some of our best corporate practices and extend them to our own lives! Taking a leadership role in your life is about taking these leadership skills and business practices that we use on the job (or volunteering and/or being a parent)-and expanding them to our personal lives, to experience success and happiness beyond what we thought is possible.
Make a difference
It’s interesting to note that the most powerful way to make a difference in the world is to take a leadership role in our own life. According to research in psychology and personal development, self-awareness is the number one indicator of success and happiness-both personally and professionally.
When we make a difference in our own life, a better life shows up. We have more to give others. We can better lead others. We make bigger contributions. We are energized and we are "on purpose." We attract more opportunities-both personally and professionally.
So, what about taking these concepts and applying them to your own life? Your health, well-being and overall success depends on good self-leadership. Doesn’t your life deserve at least as much attention as your job does?
Leadership in your life
Being a leader in your life means taking time for your life, for understanding your needs, values, strengths, skills, purpose and mission in an effort to contribute at a much higher level. This is called self-mastery. Through your own process of personal development or through working with a coach or counselor, you can learn to manage your "life" as seriously as you might a business endeavor.
Here’s what you can hope to gain through committing to this process of self mastery:
Be inspired and empowered by discovering your own personal vision, mission, values, needs, strengths and talents.
Be fulfilled by living in alignment with the core of who you are-personally and professionally.
Be exceptional through living on purpose and using your gifts to serve others.
Be extraordinary through living a life of balance, happiness and ease.
This process changes lives
One of the blessings of being a business and life coach is that I get to witness the miracles that people experience when they prioritize their own self-work. There are so many stories I could tell you about how the process of self-discovery and transformation changes lives.
One example is a client who was second in command at a very successful retail organization where she had worked for many years. There was a re-organization and she was let go. Because she put all her focus on her career, neglecting all other aspects of her life-health, relationships, spirituality, fun/adventure, financial security, satisfaction with her home-she was experiencing panic and anxiety that was preventing her from being successful in interviews and getting hired.
After a year of interviewing, this beautiful, gifted and experienced woman wasn’t getting anywhere with her job search, and she was falling deeper and deeper into a vortex of fear, self-hatred and depression. Finally, she decided to do some coaching and spent some time understanding herself and changing the energy she was giving out to the world. Today, she has a new position that is totally in alignment with her needs, values, strengths and talents. Most importantly, she’s happy, giving back to others, and attracting some amazing opportunities into her life.
What’s the moral of the story?
This woman’s story illustrates the problem with letting things outside of ourselves, define ourselves. When they aren’t, we aren’t. If we don’t spend the time developing our whole life, when one aspect gets pulled out from under us, our entire life feels like it’s caving in. The story also tells us to be sure that our job description isn’t our self description! It’s about the importance of knowing oneself and finding a balance with all aspects that make up a full life.
Our job description might include being a mother or a wife. It might also be serving on volunteer committees. It doesn’t matter if we’re leading a company, a committee, a department or a family. We can so easily forget who we are in the process and let others’ expectations or our culture define us. Before we know it, we’ve focused all our attention on one aspect of our lives, to the detriment of all the others.
There are no followers, only leaders. It’s up to us to take a leadership role in our own lives so we can contribute at a higher level, share our gifts and model behavior that brings meaning, fulfillment and purpose into our lives, and the lives of others.
The end result is embodying the state of abundance, being "on purpose" and "attractive," and living in the world with greater effectiveness and ease. And this shift can occur independent of our circumstances. It’s a way of being.
And here’s the best part: Taking a leadership role in our life is not only a personal process, it’s a planetary issue. When one person gains access to his or her greatness, we all benefit. The world eventually benefits.
With all the war, violence and fear in today’s world and with most people feeling disempowered and exhausted, we can help change the world, whether we intend to or not. Each of us holds a piece of the larger solution. Wayne Dyer sums it up in his latest book, "Change Your Thoughts, Change Your LIfe," and I would add, "and change the world!"
Passages for inspiration
I’d like to share a wonderful passage written by Rachel Snyder in the Women’s Book of Wisdom. It’s a compelling call to do this work:
If you were born to be a leader, LEAD! Take the lead if it isn’t given to you first. Blaze the trail. Usher in a new era. Lead your people, lead your generation, lead us all into the promise of a new tomorrow. When the people lead, the leaders will follow. Take the lead position and give others a target to aim for. Lead the way to victory; lead the way to freedom. If it has always been hard for you to follow, now it’s time for you to lead. Take one woman by the hand and lead her to a life of peace. Lead her back to herself. If all the world is a stage, we need our leading ladies (and gentlemen). And that means we need you now…more than ever…to lead!
What follows are some quotes from authors who took a leadership role in their own lives and have inspired others for decades. I know these quotes as Truth, given my experience with clients and my own long journey of transformation and development:
We ask ourselves, "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?" Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. – Marianne Williamson.
The moment one commits oneself, then Providence moves to support you. All sort of things occur to help you that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events flow from your decision to commit, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings, and material assistance which no person could have dreamed would have come his or her way. Whatever you can do or dream, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.
– W.H. Murray
May the magic continue!