It’s a beautiful winter (spring in my neighbourhood) day and I am busy figuring out the details of my business. After working for the big guy for years, this is like going back to school – except I am the teacher and the student. There is no one else!
Scary. But perfect.
Scary because I don’t know what I don’t know about running a business. Yes I know how to be a coach – and a good one. The part that ties my stomach in knots is the marketing and getting myself known. Someone once commented to me that I could sell anything to anyone. But this is different. I am selling the experience of coaching with me.
When I was growing up I remember hearing that effort is what you have to do to be successful; and if you are going to do something – do it well. Sure, that makes sense. As I grew older I threw myself into my work and my family and called it life. If I just worked really hard and put in the effort then everything would be great. Boy was I wrong!
You are probably thinking, “What is Eve talking about? Everything takes effort.” And you are right. But where does it end and what do our efforts really translate into? And most importantly, how satisfied are we with our efforts? Is it getting us to where we want to be? Is it leading us to our (im)possible future?
I suggest that for most of us the answer is NO. We see our efforts as simply exertions or putting energy out. Most often we expend that energy simply because we have to in order to meet our day-to-day demands. We do it mindlessly. I want to flip that idea on its head.
What if we look at our efforts in a new light? I think about effort as being made up of two things – intent + consistency. One without the other is just going through the motions. Let’s take a deeper look.
Intent is what we choose as the purpose of our actions. The clearer and more explicit we make our intent the greater the awareness we can bring to our efforts. I ask myself, is my intent aligned with my values? Is it safe and does it have value for me? Does it line up with my overall goal in life? If intent underpins any effort I choose to put out, the likelihood of generating meaning and enjoying what I am doing will be far greater. Intent must be tied to my larger purpose.
Consistency is taking the action through to its final destination. We don’t do it hurriedly or just to get to the end. Consistency means approaching our effort as a process. I see consistency as a commitment to being aware of what I am doing at any given point in the process. And, here is the most important piece; it is a commitment to my overall goal in life. It is an ongoing marriage between the big picture and the details of my life. Persevering and wholeheartedly staying with the effort will ultimately give me satisfaction and get me where I want to go.
We can have what we desire. It takes commitment and work. If we approach our efforts with intent + consistency the fruits of our labour will be more meaningful and more likely to get us to our possible future!
Are you creating intent in what you choose to put energy into?
Are you consistent in the energy you are putting out?
I recently read an article along with the comments in a discussion forum on the most important qualities for a leader to possess. There were over 28 different qualities put forth ranging from integrity to results oriented to vision.
In thinking about the list, I noticed they really divide into two categories: soft and hard qualities (for example, integrity versus communicator). It got me thinking that the hard qualities like results oriented or listener can possibly be learned skills. But what about the soft qualities like empathy, positive and inspirational? How do they develop?
Reflecting upon leaders I have known and worked with – those rare individuals that are able to inspire, are trustworthy and ethical – there is one quality they all share: authenticity – the ability to consistently be real and show up as they truly are. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines authentic as true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character. I believe that authenticity is the foundation for real leadership.
I propose that being real is intrinsically linked to self-awareness. This is critical to our ability to open up to seeing and developing other leadership qualities. Authenticity is key in developing our humility and courage. This includes being vulnerable and in turn being able to face failures, learn from them and move on. I once worked for a leader who publicly stated he made a mistake about a significant business decision. His ability to admit his failure demonstrated the truth of his character. That is inspirational. That engenders trust. That is leading by example.
From the foundation of authenticity we can layer on qualities like sincerity, purposeful and empathy. A leader who is real is likely better able to bring forth qualities appropriate to the situation. Layered upon the soft qualities are the hard skills like strategic, results oriented, communicator and listener. Don’t get me wrong; these are critical for a leader with corporate responsibilities. But they won’t inspire and motivate others to achieve greatness if they don’t come from a place of authenticity.
How do we become authentic? We choose it. We wake up every single day being aware of who we are and accepting our gifts and our faults. We let others see us in this real and powerful way. We listen carefully to and accept feedback. We are open to learning and don’t assume we are always right. We make it a priority to be compassionate to ourself and to others. It is our practice. We show up exactly as we truly are.
Are you showing up as you really are? Ask yourself these 3 questions:
1. What are my values and what is most important to me?
2. Do I show up at work holding those values front and centre or am I putting on a game face?
3. Am I choosing to share my gifts and failures with others?