Leadership Lessons Learned
“Lighthouses don´t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” (Anne Lamott)
Everything in life happens for a reason. It is just not always so clear what that reason is. This illegibility may be the reason why I personally often philosophize and reflect the deeper purpose of worldly issues. It is quite obvious that our planet is far from being black or white, but still I often do wonder what the purpose is of having, on one side, so much beauty and goodness, and on the other side, so much evil and darkness.
Why are some people rich, and others poor? And how should the word “rich” be defined anyway? Some people are wealthy in terms of monetary value and materialism, but does this make them happier as individuals? And how is happiness defined? What makes me happy? What makes you happy? Perhaps true happiness begins with having the right mindset, by valuing everything that you have in life, both the good and the less good experiences. By being thankful even for the hardships in life – how could we otherwise grow as individuals, develop our leadership skills and grow as spiritual beings? After all, we are souls with physical bodies. Every person we meet is our teacher.
Leadership begins with knowing oneself, in understanding and in living our personal values. Each one of us has a core personality that remains the same no matter how much we develop, learn and change throughout our lives. The power of authentic leadership comes from the recognition of your true identity and living up to it. The better you are capable of connecting with your true self, and the stronger you identify yourself with your true source of being, increases the satisfaction of everything you do.
It can sometimes be difficult to remain true to yourself in a world that is constantly trying to change you, and to influence you. Our world today is so full of stimulus – an endless ocean of possibilities – which makes it more difficult to choose where to put your effort and your energy. The oversupply of almost everything on our planet has actually led to many people worldwide having difficulties in decision-making, often starting from the simplest resolution. If you are interested in knowing more about this topic, I warmly recommend you to read “The Art of Choosing”, written by Sheena Iyengar.
Much has changed globally in the past century. We have traveled from the industrial revolution to the breakthrough and the new era of information technology. According to some research we are about to enter a new time of creativity, and who knows what our future keeps in storage for us. It is obvious that we are all partly responsible for the creation of our future. Since a few years, social media has grown to become a huge global industry, and whole new jobs are constantly being created through these changes. New job titles such as social media or network marketer, social media expert, SEO consultant and so on, are now commonplace. Recruitment is increasingly moving towards finding suitable candidates through different social media sites, but also through networks established by people on social media. Traditional media is, at least to some point, at a peak of change – from newspapers and television to online media and digital channels. Online business, the sense of having a global reach through social media, increases the sense of faster changes than ever. But is this actually the truth? Does change occur faster today than a few decades ago? Or is it just an illusion? I do not have the answer. I am personally just aware of the fact that we people tend to create our own time management systems, and we are both personally, as well as collectively, responsible for the hectic lifestyles that many of us lead today. Daily stress factors have already led to new global movements, such as Slow Food and people spending their vacations in retreats – just to practice yoga, and to meditate, in order to find some stillness and peace from the otherwise so noisy and hectic lifestyles.
But to get back to the actual topic: one of the important leadership lessons that I have personally learned is that we are all, in the end, personally responsible for the way we live. I do not think there is any actual measure for success. What is important for someone might not be important for another person. Each and one of us lead a personal life. Success should never be compared or measured with the achievements of other people, but rather for you as an individual. Focus on your personal life, and your values. Set personal goals. Don´t be afraid of going beyond your comfort zone! If you always stick to the same routine, without ever challenging yourself, you will not grow as a person. And if your life is too comfortable, you will not develop. Therefore, it is important to have goals, whatever their nature, spiritual or material.
Having a clear focus is also important, if you want to progress in life and career. This may be the number one lesson for me. I know from personal experience that despite of being a big picture thinker, ambitious, and determined, I have sometimes had thoughts about getting nowhere in life. But it is actually wrong, and realizing this has developed my patience to whole new levels. Life is actually about the journey – not just about reaching destinations. I know many stories about people who have reached whatever goals they have set themselves. Despite of this, many have a feeling of emptiness afterwards. When this happens, the destination has not been worth the journey – or, even worse, the journey itself was not enjoyed while trying so hard to reach the destination. Focus and determination can move mountains. I do believe that we can reach any goals we set ourselves, and fulfill any dreams we dare to dream. They just have to be worth the actual journey.
To end this writing, I´d like to share a small story about humanity.
“Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room.
One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs.
His bed was next to the room’s only window.
The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.
The men talked for hours on end.
They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the
military service, where they had been on vacation.
Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by
describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.
The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be
broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.
The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while
children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color
and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.
As the man by the window described all this in exquisite details, the man on the other side of
the room would close his eyes and imagine this picturesque scene.
One warm afternoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by.
Although the other man could not hear the band – he could see it in his mind’s eye as the
gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.
Days, weeks and months passed.
One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body
of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep.
She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.
As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window.
The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left
Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world
He strained to slowly turn to look out the window besides the bed.
It faced a blank wall.
The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had
described such wonderful things outside this window.
The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.
She said: “Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you”.
There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations.
Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled. If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can’t buy.
“Today is a gift, which is why it is called The Present “.”
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