Attention all leaders - Step AWAY from the treadmill!

So, you’re a leader and a great one at that! You’re busy going about your daily business, happily leading away, whistling a merry leadership tune as you work. You know you’re doing a good job because people tell you that you are and on top of that, you get the results you want.

Then one day, unexpectedly, something stops you in your tracks. You don’t know what it is and you don’t know why. So you carry on with your life and your job. But you don’t carry on the same as before because something is different now, even though you can’t quite put your finger on what has changed. 

And now that you’ve experienced that initial piquing of your awareness, you notice that it seems to be happening more and more often. And each time it happens, it becomes more and more noticeable. The ‘thing’, whatever it is, could be in the form of a feeling, an image, a sound, a word or phrase that just keeps popping into your mind. And you start to become acutely aware of seemingly random or inert things that take on an unexpected meaning.

So what does all this mean?

Well, simply put, it means that your unconscious mind could be trying to get your attention. Now, there are unlimited possibilities as to the reasons for this, but some common reasons include;

  • some aspect of your life is out of alignment with your values
  • your identity is in some way being compromised or suppressed
  • your full potential  is not being realised
  • you have a lack of clarity about your aim or purpose
  • there is a problem with your ecology (one or more of your behaviours, values or beliefs may be having the unintended effect of preventing you achieving your goals or could possibly be having an adverse effect somewhere else in the system in which you operate. A ‘system’ could mean anything from your individual self, your family, your business, your industry or your community right up to the whole world and beyond)

Yes, but what does it MEAN?!

It means that it’s time for a change. Something must change. It might not be immediately apparent what specific change you need to make, but that doesn’t matter for now. All that matters for now is that you:

a)      have become aware of the need for change

b)      have acknowledged the importance of this need

c)       are ready, willing and able to make whatever change is right for you

So what’s the change then?

Well, only you know the answer to that.

It might be staring you in the face, in which case, you can go off right now and start the ball rolling. What is the first small step you need to take? And by when will you have carried out this first step?

If it’s not so obvious, then you can choose to be proactive.   There are a number of things that you can do to help you explore your own values and beliefs, alter the course of your current life trajectory or give yourself invaluable insights into your own behaviours and how you interpret the actions of those around you.  Here are a few possibilities for things that might act as a catalyst for positive change:

1.       Read a book that will open up your mind to a new way of thinking - A few of my favourites and some recommended to me include The Accelerated Learning Handbook, Dave Meier;  Time to Think, Nancy Kline;  Drive, Dan Pink;  Po: Beyond Yes and No, Edward De Bono; Nonviolent Communication, Marshall Rosenberg; Clean Language, Revealing Metaphors and Opening Minds, Judy Rees; Quiet, Susan Cain; The Power of Less, Leo Babauta; Mindfulness in Plain English, Bhante Gunaratana; The Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets that Change the World, John Elkington and Pamela Hartigan; NLP at Work, Sue Knight)

2.       Watch a video -  Some of my favourites are: How to start a movement, Derek Sivers; Why you need to fail, Derek SiversChanging Paradigms, Sir Ken Robinson;  Sugata Mitra’s new experiments in self teaching;  any RSA animate;  any TED talk that takes your fancy.

3.       Online training courses – These days you can learn virtually anything online. Learning something new can prompt a new way of thinking and give your brain a useful workout.  But think carefully about what you choose to study. There’s no point in simply taking on a load of new knowledge which will serve to take you further and faster in the direction that you are already heading. This is an opportunity to explore something completely new, but more importantly to ask yourself why you are drawn a particular topic and how that is linked to your purpose in life. Try these websites: Coursera, Khan Academy, Udemy; X-Ray Listening

4.       Attend training – Choose training that involves exploring your own values, attitudes, behaviours, thinking patterns, communication styles and helps you understand those of other people.  I would recommend NLP Practitioner (NLP Edinburgh);  He’Art of Thriving (Kaizen Training);  Nonviolent Communication (NVC Resolutions);  Clean Language (Training Attention);  Personal Resilience Skills (ChangeGives)

5.       Mix in new circles – Do something you wouldn’t normally do – join a choir, a climbing club, a writing group, your local community council... anything that will propel you in a new environment and let you mix with people who have different perspectives, values and beliefs from those you are used to. Our environment is one of the things that we can most easily change about ourselves. The more varied the groups we interact with, the more we can learn about people, the more we can get practice at understanding different ways of thinking. It is this that helps us develop our awareness of how react to different people and in different contexts.  If you’re not sure where to start try meetup or streetlife.

6.       Address something you’ve been avoiding – perhaps a personal, professional or health issue. If you’re conscious that you’ve been avoiding something then by default you must have noticed that you have something you are avoiding.  You know what you’ve gotta do…!

7.       Book a session with an expert – You don’t need to have a major problem that needs fixing in order to instigate dramatic positive change in your life. Why not book yourself a course of personal or executive coaching , a hypnotherapy or EFT session?

8.       Research inspirational philosophies  - Here are just a few of the things that I’ve really enjoyed learning about recently: Sekem; Social Enterprise and Social Value; Wikinomics; Sacred Economics; Headspace;

So what’s this got to do with being a leader?

Personal development, growth, progress and stretching one’s comfort zones are all ways in which leaders can make a difference to those within their circle of influence by simply focussing on themselves. Real leaders don’t try and change anyone else because they know that the biggest difference they can make in the world is by paying attention to their own journey.

As a leader, how can you understand and support other people through personal development and growth if you don’t place importance on your own? How can you realistically expect your employees to invest time, energy and emotional labour in their own wellbeing if you, as a leader, don’t invest in your own? How can you be leading to the best of your ability if your work takes priority over your own needs?

As a leader you have got the power to create the right conditions for your employees to gain clarity, experience epiphany moments and to enjoy creative flow. When these conditions exist, innovation, productivity and engagement become a natural  by-product.  And it all starts with you!

Saffron Grant specialises in improving business performance by improving employee wellbeing. She provides resilience training, executive coaching and can help you to create the perfect Employee Wellbeing Strategy for your organisation.

Saffron is the author of ‘A Practical Guide to Employee Wellbeing - How to create your strategy’ which can be downloaded for free here. You can sign up to have her new book ’10 Steps to Resilience - A step by step guide anyone can use’ sent to you as soon as it is released in January 2015.

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