INSIGHTS (on leadership/self-leadership)
Talk to any well-respected, seasoned leader about what makes them so good in their role (and I have, hundreds and hundreds of interviews worth), it amounts to them practicing the 3 “Ups” of leadership: show up, step up, shake it up.
The best leaders bring their best, every day. They exude professionalism, presence, and play to win. They come prepared (always), bring the energy and a positive attitude, and are available for and fully present with their people. They don’t back down from tensions and debate but are drawn towards shepherding the best possible outcome for all involved. They can be counted on and leaned upon. They’re willing and able listeners who can be trusted and place trust freely in others.
The best, most savvy leaders role-model the right behaviors in times of adversity. They drive through complexity with decisiveness and focus. They bring hope, and reality, when each is needed most. They hold themselves, and their organization, unswervingly accountable. They set inspiring visions and strategies while rolling up their sleeves to solve problems “in the trenches.” They look in the mirror with failure and point at others to assign credit.
Shake it up.
Role-model leaders have a healthy discomfort with the status quo. They crave uncertainty to help spur innovation and disruption. They lead change, helping all involved to thrive, not just survive, through it all. They have one eye on delivering today, the other on shaping tomorrow. They don’t allow their people to get stuck in tired, unhelpful narratives, but instead encourage them to rewrite the script.
Show up, step up, and shake it up, and you’ll be on your way up.
IMPERFECTIONS (a mistake to avoid)
Admirably, at times, you push back on the status quo, or even fear of failure, to stick your neck out and try something new. It might take every ounce of courage and energy you have to lean forward and try that thing you’ve been wanting to try. In doing so, while you bypass the common mistake of holding back on living life, be careful not to step into another mistake often made.
Artist Chris Burden reminded us of this miscue when he said:
“The first time you do something only happens once.”
Go ahead and pat yourself on the back for your bravery (really), but don’t forget to marvel at and ENJOY that first-time experience, too. It’s too easy to quickly fall into a pattern of self-evaluation, comparison, criticality, and anxiety as you’re wallowing through that first-time foray. Close your eyes to all that and just be wide-eyed in the moment. Remember that the first time happens only one time, so you must take time to revel in the adventure of it all.
IMPLEMENTATION (one research-backed strategy, tip, or tool)
A Harvard study showed that in the midst of the pandemic, a whopping 51% of young Americans were experiencing some form of despair. And while we may be in an endemic now (vs. pandemic), war, deep-seated division, climate change, and a multitude of other miscreants are stepping up to wear us down. So where to turn for relief? Continuing with a mini-theme in this week’s issue, we look to painter Gerhard Richter, who said:
“Art is the highest form of hope.”
Test this theory for yourself. When I visit a museum, I’m plunged into wonder over the remarkable skill I see on display, the raw emotion, the breathtaking beauty. I get drawn into imagining life within the context of the creation I’m absorbing. I find it hard not to feel a sense of optimism when I’m surrounded by works resolutely casting their spell, unaffected by the blathering, unnerving news story of the day. I leave with a renewed appreciation of the incredible capacity of the human race to create rather than destroy. A sense of hope and well-being is the outcome. And while research supports this, I think you’ll find the same all on your own.