#thIMPULSE - EDITION 12.2020 - Wu Wei
thoughts & impulses about change & progress.
Inaction – Wu Wei
Ni hao friends and happy readers,
Recently I got a very good advice…”do not engage in anything and everything will be resolved”.
Quite a pitch, right?
It reminded me of Chinese wisdom called “Wu Wei” the Chinese concept of “Non-Action”.
This was one of my key themes in 2020. Not that I was in Non-Action nor that I am a cultural expert on Taoism, but sometimes it was a blessing just to retreat before considering action again (especially in difficult times).
My other theme was “Leadership” - sometimes missing, sometimes bizarrely executed, always the questions of “how” and “what” rarely the "why" is questioned. A great impulse on that: together is better…
… these two concepts guided me as north starts throughout this year…
For further details I can recommend the books you see in the photo above.
“Wu Wei” I did for the last months unfortunately also with regards to thIMPUSLE. APOLOGIES, but there were lots and lots of things going on. However for the year-ending I definitely wanted to come back to you.
Lots has happened as said, lots has changed. It would be too much of a paragraph to write about details but some things I would want to highlight:
COVID has hit hard (or has it really;-), nevertheless I see a lot of things emerging out of these circumstances…very positive things (actually)…
My Business went close to 0 and picked up again: thanks to amazing clients, people who focus on change and progress…(certainly needed in these challenging days)…(thanks so much!!)
Family and friends (relationships) are the key to happiness & well-being. When circumstances shift (go south), it is exactly these shoulder you want to lean on…or at least I did…(thanks for that so much!!)…
For you, I hope that you also had a productive and enriching year 2020. I hope you are well, healthy and have jumped on the train of COVID-opportunity rather than COVID-threat.
In order to support you on this journey, one final 2020 “leadership” impulse in this newsletter.
I wish you and your family / close ones a very merry Christmas and then an awesome year-end party.
For the next year I wish you a happy, successful and healthy 2021.
Happy change and progress for that!
A Thought on Leadership
The Authentic Leadership-Self
…to be aligned with your values!
I think the word “leadership” is over-utilized in the context of leading, guiding and managing people.
When added the word “Self” it all makes sense, at least for me.
Leadership is a journey inwards and not outwards.
„The essence of leadership is to shift the inner place from which we operate both individually as well as collectively.“
So how can we work towards the self?
Recently when I was in a very dire moment in my life (this happens), my best friend send me a gift with the words “you have to read this”.
I opened the parcel and found a book called: “Der Selbstentwickler“ (The Way of the Self-Developer) by Jens Corssen.
It is a book about the “Self”, and I loved it. Very Powerful.
Based on this book and a lot of reflection, my working hypothesis from this year:
Fix the self and you will end up being a great leader…a great human being…a great ANYTHING.
…if you know what you value in life, you can self-reflect and see in which areas of your life you are coherent with your values (and where you are not), exactly this coherence will make the difference…
This transparency helps tremendously to become self-aware, to consciously get to know your status quo on its alignment.
An simple exercise to find out your values:
Write down 5 situations in life where you were really happy, proud and satisfied with you and your world.
Write down 3 situations in life where you were really upset, unhappy about something.
There is a big chance that when you re-read these situations you will be able to easily identify patterns of things that are important to you, and things you really dislike.
The summary of these will give you an insight in what you value in life.
Now the self-work starts. The work to act upon your findings.
Jens Corssen clusters the challenge to become a good self-developer in four aspects:
The first aspect is a continuation of what we just did, become self-aware.
Self-awareness is the ability to observe yourself and your thoughts and actions clearly and objectively.
Of course it is debatable if you can become totally self-aware, but as always it is rather the path not the end goal that counts.
The most important message is: you are not your thoughts…
You become what you think (feel) but you are totally able to change what you think (and consequently become).
Becoming self-aware has proven benefits, namely better decision making, better communication, two crucial factors for leading.
Questions to inquire self-awareness:
How do you think about yourself?
What expectations do I have of other people?
What is my idea of things that are important to me?
What wishes, goals, needs do I have?
What prevents me from achieving my goals?
What is the meaning, what are the values of my life?
What is more important? To be right or to be happy and successful?
Additionally to increase self-awareness, listen more to yourself. Whether it is by increased self-time, mindfulness practices, journaling or turning outward and actively listening to others without judgement and proactively asking for feedback.
I know what I think and feel.
I know what I value, believe and like.
I know what I am doing.
I know what I don’t like and want.
The second aspect of the self-developer is the competency of self-responsibility.
For this the crucial questions is who owns what:
Are you owned by your work or do you own your work?
It is not rocket science but it is a specific mindset.
“If we wanted a life that was different, purposeful and rewarding, we would have to own it.”
And owning a life means to own the ups and the downs, the achievements and the catastrophes. It means to be the director of your own film.
“I now believe self-responsibility is acknowledging that we — through our thoughts, feelings and behavior — are responsible for our life experience.”
Leading questions can be very simple:
Am I being fully self-responsible right now?
Are my thoughts, feelings and behavior consistent with what I’m wanting to achieve in this moment and my values?
Self-responsibility is the key to individual freedom. Nobody else is responsible for that.
You can practice this with a very little exercise every morning:
When you wake up, you sit up in your bed and you take a conscious decision to get up. This is the first empowered decision you take in your day (and you are aware that you have also the option to stay lying in bed).
I am the master of my universe.
I have always an alternative.
Where I am, I want to be.
I want instead of I must.
Self-awareness and self-responsibility can both have as consequence (not a must) self-confidence.
Self-confidence is to believe in one’s strength and the desire to want to use one’s own potential to its fullest.
The key to self-confidence is to focus on personal commitments and not by focusing on absolute success. Keeping commitments strengthens self-confidence. Keeping the steps or commitments small (possibly also in areas of life that are not crucial for the moment), kaizen steps, at the beginning insures success probability and therefore also increased self-confidence. So focusing on one’s abilities, keeping commitments, constantly striving to improve, providing feedback and enjoying what you are doing are key.
Practicing self-confidence has two parallel routes to walk on:
The physical one (check thIMPULSE: http://bit.ly/3nQa2n6):
Using posture as a possibility to boost self-confidence by the power poses proposed by Amy Cuddy.
Working out, regularly.
The mental one:
Reframe your interpretation of things: stress becomes excitement.
Allow yourself to try, be in the process, fail and re-try again.
Specify your goals
Helping and supporting others in a genuine way
The bottom line is self-confidence is not something we have / acquire / gain / achieve but rather a muscle that needs to be built and reinforced all the time.
My self-worth is based on progress and effort and not on performance or success.
I keep my commitments.
I focus on my competences and look for continuous improvement.
The last of the four key do becoming a great self-developer is willpower.
Willpower is inner power that enables you to overcome inner and external resistance and obstacles.
I think also the word self-conquest has its place.
The notion of not always focusing on avoiding pain. Have a cold shower in the morning.
There are three areas where avoiding pain is particularly crucial:
Decision: I think it is more important to decide, if necessary with flipping a coin, rather than waiting, procrastinating and not moving forward. It is not meant to rush ahead without reflection, but it means to put ourselves in the mindset of finding decisions.
Communication: I am the first person who does not say what he thinks as it might cause trouble to the other. Ultimately it is my fear that is in the way and subconsciously causes pain to myself instead of taking the call and speaking out my truth. If it does happen to speak my truth, I oftentimes feel that it was not that bad for the other AND I am actually feeling a lot better.
Beliefs: When it comes down to one’s belief, I have a tendency to do anything to re-confirm or keep the believe, instead of admitting that I am wrong or things and have changed and letting that old belief go. Believes give comfort but no progress.
Essentially what it means is that pain is a great teacher and David Goggins speaks beautifully about it in his book “Can’t hurt me”:
“Don’t stop when you are tired, stop when you are done.” David Goggins.
It is a matter to get into the optic of traversing pain instead of avoiding it.
The self-developer knows that life is a rollercoaster ride and change is part of the process to grow and to improve oneself.
Downs, pain,...are part of life.
I decide (not deciding is also a decision).
I embrace change and uncertainty.
The obstacle is the way.
These four parts of the self-developer when we start embracing them, starting with small steps every single day, I am sure that we will grow as humans and we will certainly grow as leaders.
Having this in mind and being self-aware of your values, it is perfect to check and analyze, does the job, work, project, boss, employee, colleague, friend, girlfriend in line with my values or not. Based on the answer you can consciously engage in work on it, accept it or walk away.
The most important leadership message however is:
I any circumstances as a leader: act as your authentic leadership-self all the time, as you set the example for everyone around, above, bellow and the ones coming after you.
Quote of the month
“The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word 'crisis.' One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger--but recognize the opportunity.”
John F. Kennedy
Thanks for reading until the end...I feel humbled and grateful!
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An Impulse about Leadership