Creating goals is easy. Measuring results after the fact is easy. Executing while continuing to engage is another story. And without the full engagement of those that execute these plans, it’s hard to achieve the success today’s complex business environments are seeking. Today’s leaders must become masters at engaging their teams and managing the activities that lead to the outcomes they want rather than focus exclusively on the outcomes. Lagging indicators and results are no longer sustainable measurement of success of failure. Effective outcome oriented leaders are highly organized, disciplined planners and optimizers of personal productivity. They focus the energy of their teams on successful execution, by setting realistic and achievable goals, by managing risks and removing obstacles. They run effective meetings that achieve the right results and they ascribe to the philosophy that the right people, right role, right time will always achieve the right results.
Outcome Leaders are Execution Masters. Relentless executors translate strategy and vision into operational plans to achieve the desired results. They drive execution of these plans through clear expectations, exceptional communication and leadership that engages employees and compels them to act. These leaders establish high performance standards and hold themselves and others accountable. They are masters at delegating responsibility and authority at the right levels of the organization. Relentless executors find ways to address challenges and remove obstacles to keep moving forward.
Outcome Leaders are Realistic Goal Setters. These leaders establish realistic goals and targets that are clear, measurable and achievable. They involve others to ensure these goals are aligned with the organization’s strategy and vision. These leaders are exceptional at optimizing the efforts of their teams and working with other business units to create synergy, reduce unnecessary work and streamline business processes. They identify potential risks and anticipate problems at the planning stages, so they can develop contingent plans.
Outcome Leaders are Process Reformers. Process reformers are never content with producing anything less than optimum results. The set expectations for quality outcomes by developing common, streamlined work processes that facilitate instead of encumber. They identify and examine core processes on a regular basis and identify areas of improvement. They research best practices, make use of process improvement methodologies and invite feedback from multiple stakeholders to analyze, evaluate and prioritize improvement efforts. These leaders are diligent in ensuring accessible documentation for core processes to facilitate the training of new employees and provide a reference for existing employees.
Outcome Leaders are Astute Financial Managers. Financially astute leaders are exemplary forecasters and use key financial metrics to track trends. They leverage the expertise and financial acumen of their corporate financial department to make well informed decisions to invest the company’s financial resources and excel by conducting “what if” analyses and developing contingency plans to ensure the profitability of new and existing product and services. These leaders understand the levers that pinpoint successful trends and troubling areas and use scorecards, performance checks and monitor progress to redirect efforts when goals are not being met. Astute leaders and understand the benefits of conducting post-audits to glean the lessons that can be applied to future endeavors.
Outcome Leaders are Meeting Masters. These leaders understand that meetings are critical to achieving goals and operations plans and they are role models for running effective meetings. They set clear, achievable agendas and expected outcomes. They identify the critical participants for each meeting to keep meetings short and focused for those in attendance. Their meetings are focused on sharing timely information, clarifying problems, inviting feedback, finding solutions and making informed decisions to achieve desired results. Meeting masters jointly set meeting agendas with participants to get the highest productivity and contribution. These leaders ensure follow-up on items that cannot be completed during the meeting and use meetings as learning and engaging environments for all participants.
Join me next time to explore a variety of opportunities for developing the leadership competencies today’s leaders need to excel.
To achieve success in today’s challenging work environments, capsule organizations need leaders who welcome the opportunity to stretch beyond their comfort zone. The main reason Self-Leaders embrace a continuous journey of learning is because they are never content with the status quo. They continually search for ways to reach higher levels of performance and success, order and increase their effectiveness in the process. They are clear about their purpose and the goals of the organization, prescription and they are willing and able to move their teams in new and desired directions. They know how to self-regulate to overcome frustrations, set back and shortfalls. By continuously growing as leaders, they inspire their teams to achieve unparalleled success in every aspect of their personal and professional lives.
Self-Leaders are Courageous. These leaders have a strong desire to achieve. They are resilient in the face of adversity and challenge and they aren’t afraid to hold tough conversations or challenge current thinking. While they are concerned with the bottom line, they are equally concerned with maintaining the rich relationships they have with their employees and stakeholders. They are willing to take necessary risks to make quantum leaps in their organization’s success but not at all cost. Self-leaders are clear about their values and principles and they are willing to do what it takes to ensure these are not compromised for the sake of expediency and profit.
Self-Leaders are Adaptable and Flexible. Adaptable leaders take a confident and optimistic view of the future and they are masters at shepherding their teams successfully through significant periods of change. They are comfortable with ambiguity and able to move ahead when they don’t have all the answers. They look to their teams and other stakeholders to help find the answers. They don’t take themselves too seriously and they work hard to keep the atmosphere fun and light. They know how to take care of themselves and to manage their energy.
Self-Leaders are Continuous Learners. Leaders who are committed to continuous learning actively seek opportunities to accelerate their development and raise their own bar of excellence. They are realistic assessors of their strengths and gaps and know how to play to their strengths while remaining eager to develop the gaps that benefit them and their organizations. They know that their career is theirs to own and manage, that learning is part of their success, and they wholeheartedly embrace new options for continual growth. They model continuous learning and, in the process, inspire their teams to learn and grow.
Self-Leaders are Initiators. These leaders are motivated by a deep desire to achieve for the benefit of the organization, not solely for personal gain. They have a clear vision of what they want to achieve which raises the performance bar for everyone who works with them. They continually seek new ways to move from good to great in everything they do. They focus their energies on working smarter, not harder.
Join me next time as I explore the competencies of Outcome Oriented Leaders.
Engaging Leaders lead from a position of trust rather than power and title. They understand the value of investing time and energy in building strong interdependent relationships and they excel in their ability to nurture those relationships. These leaders take time to know their employees and all the stakeholders they interact with on a regular basis and they are masters at engaging individuals in meaningful conversations.
Interdependent leaders are Trusted Communicators. Leaders who create trusting, viagra authentic and collaborative relationships through genuine communication with their teams, doctor colleagues, cialis customers and stakeholders are visible and accessible. These leaders are not afraid to confront tough issues and find solutions that are acceptable to all stakeholders. Whenever possible they take a consensus building approach to resolve issues and differences.
Interdependent leaders are Relationship Builders. Leaders who invest time and energy in getting to know their employees, what’s happening at work and in their personal life build lasting and trusting relationships. They do the same for customers and colleagues. They use empathy and respect when they need to hold courageous conversations to deal with issues head on. They have a laser focus on building and maintaining long-term, loyal relationships.
Interdependent leaders are Engaging and Inspiring. Engaging leaders share compelling business decisions and rationale and foster open and multi-directional dialogue with employees. They understand that engagement is key to achieving breakthroughs and delivering outstanding performance. Engaging leaders understand the powerful impact of recognizing employee efforts and by making the recognition memorable. They create an environment that empowers employees to achieve their highest levels of performance and grow their capabilities in the process.
Interdependent leaders are Talent Developers. These leaders understand the sum total of the talents, capabilities and motivations within their teams and they inspire employees to stretch and grow. They hold regular career discussions with employees and support the development activities that helps them prepare for their next opportunity. They model and promote self-development and understand that a stronger team makes a stronger organization, even when it means employees in their teams may move to other parts of the organization. They also know how to seek feedback to continually make adjustments to their own development and performance.
Interdependent leaders are Coaches and Mentors. Coaches listen intently and ask powerful questions to encourage employees to find their own solutions. These leaders know the value of providing timely and genuine feedback to help employees learn and continue to reach higher levels of performance. They help employees surpass their perceived limitations and inspire them to think broadly, learn from failures and shape new perspectives about their own capabilities. Rather than wait for formal performance management cycles to engage their employees in meaningful feedback, they see it as a continuous process in their everyday leadership activities.
Interdependent leaders are Collaborators. Collaborative leaders model teamwork within their own teams and across business units. They remove roadblocks to enable collaborative efforts. These leaders create a culture where employees develop a sense of pride and ownership in the work they do, and as a result, employees hold each other accountable. Collaborators are sharers of information and encourage everyone involved to share and learn from each other.
Join me next time as we look at the competencies of a Self-Leader.
Discerning leaders excel in business acumen and in using all of their intellectual capabilities to understand what’s happening below the surface of their organizations and thrive in communicating and engaging their employees in the process. They are tuned into the undercurrent and cultural sensitivities that are part of their organizations. They are excellent in discerning which communication is needed to achieve the results they seek for their business. These leaders take time to step back from their day-to-day activities to regroup and adjust their approach before taking action. While some leaders come by these competencies naturally, dosage the good news is they can be learned.
Discerning leaders are Influencers. Influential leaders share compelling stories with their employees and colleagues to capture the imagination, viagra change mindsets, influence and engage their teams. They don’t rely only on their positional power. Influencers lead by example, which in turn, promotes the right behaviours that are critical to success, and they influence decisions across the company to ensure everyone achieves the results they seek.
Discerning leaders are Change Facilitators. Facilitating leaders understand how change impacts the people, tools, structures, processes, policies and culture of the organization. They prepare their employees in advance, so they understand the nature and scope of the change, the reasons why it’s necessary and they create, share and implement strategies to mitigate the impact of change. They create forums, formal and informal, for employees to raise concerns and to address the preoccupations that could derail change efforts. Facilitating leaders are constant communicators during periods of significant change, they articulate the benefits realization and lessen the impact on all stakeholders through effective communication and thoughtful action.
Discerning leaders are Astute. Leaders who are highly discerning are astute in gaining insights and increasing their awareness and perceptions of their organizations and the environments in which they operate. These leaders understand that there are different sources of intelligence to draw upon and they use these sources to their advantage. They rely on logical, kinesthetic, spatial, naturalist, emotional, linguistic, interpersonal and rhythmic insights, intuition and intelligence to make well-informed decisions.
Discerning leaders are Culturally Aware. Culturally aware leaders take into account the diversity, traditions, beliefs, customs and folklore that make up the organizations they lead. They are knowledgeable and sensitive to the uniqueness and diversity of their culture and they are competent in inclusive environments where diverse cultures can flourish and create value. They ensure that policies, programs and processes are consistent with and incorporate the cultural values they promote.
Discerning leaders are Politically Savvy. These leaders know that politics are part of every organization and they are savvy in managing the political landscapes in their organizations. These leaders understand and appreciate how decisions are made and make sure they are tapped into the right information sources. Politically savvy leaders use their skills to influence decisions. They appreciate that employees are savvy as well and spend their time and efforts to remove barriers that unnecessary politics can cause. They learn to manage their own political power for the benefit of the organization, its employees and their customers.
To flourish in today’s demanding and complex business environments, pill leaders need more than just good strategic thinking and planning skills. They can no longer rely on old tried and true models of traditional leadership and expect to achieve new levels of success. For starters they need to be customer centric, viagra 60mg strategic visionaries and compelling communicators. As you read the definitions of a contemplative leader, nurse think of someone who exemplifies these competencies. Ask yourself what specific behaviours this leader demonstrates and how is he impacting your employees differently than other leaders who don’t yet have these competencies.
Contemplative leaders are Customer Centric. These leaders are passionate about understanding the key drivers of success for their customers. They find ways to say yes to customers with enabling policies, programs and processes. They remove barriers and promote high standards of customer service at all levels of the organization. Customer centric leaders make it easy for customers to do business with them and are relentless in cultivating an employee mindset which is focused on finding new ways to anticipate needs and exceed customer expectations. They build loyalty by listening and responding to their customers’ concerns and feedback and they make continual improvements to their levels of customer service.
Contemplative leaders are Innovators. Not content with the status quo, these leaders leverage innovation and technology to increase and maintain the competitive advantage of their organizations. Innovators advocate for and are catalysts for new thinking. They foster open environments, seek employee input and ideas; and encourage them to challenge conventional thinking. They remain open to fresh perspectives that lead to exceptional customer service and enhanced business results.
Contemplative leaders are Visionaries. They are highly aware of opportunities in the global market place and the organization’s strengths and weaknesses. They use this information along with analytics to identify trends and shape the vision and mission of their organization. They apply global thinking to shape a vision of what’s possible. These leaders establish and model values that are congruent with the organization’s mission and vision.
Contemplative leaders are Strategists. Strategically oriented leaders create audacious goals to maximize the potentiality of the organization and, at the same time, focus on the right activities. They ensure that corporate goals are cascaded throughout the organization and that they are aligned vertically and horizontally across the organization. These leaders create scorecards and key performance indicators to measure trends and results in all key business activities. Effective strategists build on and leverage collaborative relationships across business units and corporate services to align efforts and create agility in the organization. They allocate resources to maximize profits and productivity while eliminating waste and minimizing costs.
Contemplative leaders are Analysts. They make use of the analytics and tools available to dissect business information and understand what’s happening in the external environment and industries that can potentially impact their strategies. These leaders judiciously evaluate the outcomes of the previous business cycles to learn about the organization’s successes and failures. They make decisions that are well-informed, supported by the analytics and aligned with company values and principles.
Effective contemplative leaders are Compelling Communicators. They create multi-directional channels and relentlessly communicate their vision, values, strategic goals, objectives and organizational changes to all stakeholders. They use a variety of media and platforms to provide information, seek feedback and measure the effectiveness of all communications. Their open door model ensures a constant flow of information and breaks down barriers. Communication channels are top-down, bottom-up, lateral, cross-functional and peer to peer.
- 53% of adults in Canada are considered overweight or obese
- 1 in 5 children are overweight or obese
- 44.8% of adults are inactive
- 22.7% of people over the age of 15 feel quite a bit or extreme stress.
If we keep going in this direction, seek what will it mean as we age and for younger generations. It’s not like we don’t know what to do. We know that lack of physical activity combined with high stress and poor eating habits contributes to increased risks for cancers, link diabetes, heart disease and immune system complications. So what are we waiting for? We can no longer afford to take our health for granted. According to Psychologist, Kenneth Pargament, “Having a future to plan for and strive toward is essential to our health and well-being.” We need to see our bodies as the sacred home for our physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual wellbeing. A well-functioning body helps us to experience life positively, to contemplate and to achieve our dreams. We need to take charge and create a new vision for our own health and wellbeing.
When you’re healthy, what does it feel like? Is it being physically fit and having energy for the activities you most enjoy doing with your loved ones; or is it maintaining normal ranges in blood sugars, cholesterol and blood pressure? Is it feeling vibrant, energetic, confident and resilient? Does healthy mean feeling relaxed and having an outlet to deal with the stresses of life, remaining positive and having the fortitude to meet challenges head on? Whatever your reasons for getting and staying health, you need to keep a constant vigilance. Short term diets or poorly planned fitness programs, or short decompression vacations will not do it. A long term vision and strategy that builds and maintains health throughout your life is needed, and it takes planning and daily small steps to achieve and sustain your goals or to get back on track when you stumble. As you’re crafting your own vision of what health looks like, consider these four anchors in your plans.
- Nutrition –research what portions are appropriate for your age and energy needs; number of carbohydrates, protein, fruits and vegetables, grains and dairy needed every day. Get into the habit of planning your meals on a weekly basis to save time and money. By planning you’ll eat better as well. Make time to savour and enjoy your meals instead of eating on the run. A good place to start is the Canada Health Food Guide at www.hc-sc.gc.ca
- Physical fitness – Find one or two physical activities that are enjoyable such as going to the gym, running, walking, yoga, swimming, playing a team sport. Schedule this activity in your day planner, like you schedule other appointments and meetings. Find ways to incorporate physical activity into your work day such as stretching, running errands during lunch, walking. Try a new activity that is both fun and fitness oriented like a dance class or participating in a charity walk with a friends and family. Start with three, 30-minute activities each week to get started and increase your time as your fitness improves. You can find a ton of ideas at www.participaction.ca.
- Mental fitness – To reduce stress try to identify the causes and find ways to reduce the stressors. Accept there will be challenges and try to keep your thoughts positive to help you ride out these storms more easily. Journaling can help. Make time to laugh and find quiet activities such as reading a favourite book, reflecting on what’s working well and make plans. Find lots of tools at The Canadian Mental Health Association at www.cmha.ca.
- Restorative rest and relaxation – In addition to your regular vacation, plan some time each week to rejuvenate, even if it’s only 30-60 minutes. Get a message, essential oils or other alternative therapies that are designed to help you slow down. Treat yourself to a pedicure, manicure, facial or spa. Meditate, listen to your favourite music or take a stroll along the beach or in a natural setting. Have an electronics and TV free day each week. Check out www.greatist.com for a great variety of ideas and tips.
By creating a vision and taking small steps each and every day to achieve it, you’ll look and feel great and you will grow old with grace and independence. You’ll reduce your risk for many diseases and feel more balanced and happy. Your loved ones will notice too and they may be inspired to do the same.
Surprisingly, site many leaders and organizations still buy into the old tried and true model of traditional management and hang on to the hope that the good ol’ days where companies operated in environments of infrequent and slower change cycles, medical fewer competitive forces, and slower rhythms will make a comeback. It’s time to face reality. The skills of the traditional leader simply do not cut it in today’s complex, 24/7, on-demand business environments. Today’s leaders need a new set of integrated skills and capabilities to meet the ever increasing demands of these new organizations, the growing expectations of customers and suppliers, and to meet the needs of their employees. And any new leadership model must encompass a set of integrated and holistic competencies that will drive success in highly competitive, dynamic and changing organizations. Leaders need to be skilled in five critical areas.
- Contemplative Leadership – Today’s leaders are more agile in applying critical thinking to envision and create operational and marketing strategies that are based on sound and current business models and information, in environments that are constantly changing and adapting.
- Discerning Leadership - Today’s leaders are skilled in influencing, in understanding and embracing cultural diversity and they are politically savvy. They flourish in today’s organizations by being masters in facilitating organizational change that lessens the impact on all key stakeholders. These skills are the underbelly of leadership success.
- Interdependent Leadership - Effective leaders know how to engage, inspire and coach their employees to achieve what, at times, may seem impossible. They clearly understand the importance of on-going development, building trusting relationships through open and honest communications, and creating effective feedback mechanisms to engage multi-generational and culturally diverse talent.
- Self-Leadership – Today’s leaders are adaptable and flexible so they can thrive in constant change. They know how to work smarter, not harder. They embrace other perspectives, act courageously and they are committed to continuous learning and growth. They constantly seek new ways to raise the performance bar to a level where everyone wins. They initiate business unit level transformations that are imperative to the success of their employees, customers and organizations.
- Outcome Oriented Leadership – Today’s leaders achieve results through the development and execution of realistic goals, relentless focus on measurements and feedback, process improvements and by being passionate about helping their customers, suppliers and employees succeed.
Join me next time as I expand on the skills of Contemplative Leaders.
There is no denying that leaders are bombarded with new business realities on a daily basis. Customer expectations are increasingly more demanding. Global competition is fiercer than ever and businesses are expected to operate 24/7, see at the same time technological advances force them to constantly adapt their products and services. The pressure to change business processes and strategy is relentless. Furthermore, viagra order today’s workforce is complex, multi-generational and mobile with varying motivations and expectations. In an ever shrinking labour market brought on by record numbers of boomers ready to retire, you’ve got the makings of a perfect storm. Is it any wonder that leaders are tired and stressed?
Many leaders are unprepared to deal effectively with today’s challenges and this is the single biggest issue that is causing stress. And organizations aren’t certain where to begin to create leadership development programs that are both effective for the individual and sustainable for the organization.
They are hesitant to invest in expensive and lengthy development programs without assurances those program will have the desired results for both the individuals and the organization. Some struggle to clearly articulate what development is needed, and which is priority. The issue stems from the multitude of skills and talents that are required of leaders to be effective in today’s complex environments. Development is a complex issue and a one size fits all recipe simply won’t work. A new approach that is pragmatic and sustainable is needed to develop current leaders and to fast track the development and integration of new leaders.
A new model for leadership competencies, aligned with your business strategy and goals is needed to achieve the success you need today and tomorrow. And any new model must include an integrated strategy that addresses the development needs of existing and future leaders. Join me next time as I propose such a new model of leadership competencies and development.
From time to time a song makes its way onto the airwaves and sparks the imagination of a generation. “What the world needs now is love” (1971)3, viagra 100mg written by Hal David and performed by Jackie De Shannon, captured the imagination and inspired millions to dream of a world free of war, hunger and injustice. The song gave hope when all seemed hopeless. Forty some years later, the message in this song is as relevant as ever. There are still wars being raged around the world, more hunger, more greed, more deceit, and less love than ever before.
It’s time for a reawakening of individual hearts, a personal call to action for peace, justice for all humanity, an end to war, greed, hunger, terrorism and a reversal of the damage that is being done to the environment. We each need to become a lightning rod for action, to fuel the outrage and disgust in our souls, and propel ourselves to positive action. There is no need to wait for the answers; they are already within and love is the guide. It’s time, to become visionaries, to blaze new trails.
Imagine if there was one such visionary on each continent, in each country, in each city, in every town, village, and in our own homes. We only need to look in the mirror to see that visionaries. Let’s call on our own leadership capabilities, draw on the wisdom of our elders and encourage the imaginative minds of our youth. We are all leaders, capable of renewing the collective spirit of humanity. When we take the bold step to live with love and leadership, we become those visionaries. And when we re-fuel our passions with a hunger that’s never been felt before, we effect positive change.
Change will only happen if we each do our small part. Like Anita Roddick said: “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you’ve never been to bed with a mosquito.” Call on your role models to inspire and remind you that life is a journey of the heart and limited only by your imagination. What love, sweet love is needed in your part of the world? Ask yourself what one small step can you take today to make a difference? Then see how living from a base of love feeds the soul and makes a real difference in your life and in the lives of others.
If we’re all “living the dream”, viagra sale why are we so miserable? We feel more disconnected with our dreams today than we ever did and we hear it everywhere. “I feel stuck and my life is going nowhere.” “I hate my job.” “I’m overworked and stressed out.” “I’m bored.” “I’m frustrated, sales angry and scared.” “I’m depressed.” “I wish I could just run away from it all.” “I need to get a life.” “I don’t know how to make a real difference in this world.”
Living the dream! Yeah right! We’re too darn busy working, illness raising families and barely making ends meet to have time to think about anything else, much less chasing our dreams. But still, we hope that we can get away from the everyday grind and focus on the pursuit of unfulfilled dreams. Hope is what gets us out of bed in the morning.
If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting different result then it makes sense to change what you’re doing. Hope can only take you so far. If you want to make changes in your life, and you’re feeling overwhelmed with the thought of adding another thing on your long to-do list, then maybe the first step is to make a “stop doing” list. Then ask yourself what’s most important today, tomorrow and in the longer term. The questions below will get you thinking. Don’t worry how long it takes to achieve one goal or one dream. Taking too big a step will overwhelm you and you’ll give up. It’s much easier to take small steps that fit your already busy schedule. You’ll have more energy as you build momentum and start seeing the progress you’re making. And you’ll accomplish more.
- What have I accomplished so far? You’ll amaze yourself.
- What unfinished business do I still have?
- What do I really want out of my relationships, work, health, etc.; and why it is important?
- What dreams can I realistically pursue given the current priorities in my life?
- How can I break these dreams down in manageable goals?
- How can I break the goals into even smaller chunks so I don’t get overwhelmed?
- What can I do to stay focused on my goals? Give up an hour of TV? Get up earlier?
- Who can I ask for help as I work towards my goals?
- What can I do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to stay focused?
- What can I do to recognize the progress I’m making and celebrate my accomplishments?
Too often we give up on our dreams because life gets in the way or it doesn’t unfold as planned. Priorities change and stuff happens. The truth is that life is rarely lived in a linear fashion; it is usually lived in a spiral, with many twists and turns. But it is precisely through these twists and turns that we force ourselves to make a choice to either keep pursuing our dreams or give up. Living the dream is about having the courage keep moving and seeing possibilities in the obstacles that eventually take life in a direction that is more congruent with who we are.
When we make the decision to turn parts of our life around, we find a renewed sense of energy. It no longer feels like we have added more on our to-do list. Rather, it recharges the old batteries and breathes new energy into our life. Sometimes we have to dig deep and find the courage to bring about the change that is needed, but we owe it to ourselves and to our loved one to create a life of dreams.
If only finding our purpose was as easy as finding our keys. Isn’t it strange that we spend a good chunk of our life searching for the answer to the question – What am I on this earth to do? Yet we rarely find it. We ask this question because we are trying to figure out what our true purpose is and how we can make a meaningful difference while we’re on this earth. We also ask this question because one of the biggest fears we have is that our life will have been irrelevant. By asking this question we strive to make a difference and in the process, viagra create powerful legacies for our loved one.
Another way we approach this big hairy question is to ask: What is my purpose? We can spend countless hours looking for a clear answer when in fact the full answer isn’t possible until the very end of life. We haven’t yet realized the full potentiality of our lives. It’s easier to think about our purpose from a broader perspective. Purpose is fluid and reveals itself in small ways in everyday actions. It lives in the love that we give, in the way we enrich others’ lives simply by being part of it; through compassionate acts, and in the lessons we learn through our struggles. There is no easy recipe to live on purpose and there isn’t only one way to live a purposeful life that will lead to success. It must be forged individually, each and every day.
Understanding our purpose is important because it creates intention. It clarifies meaning , motivates and drives the energy we need to expend towards achieving our dreams and goals. Purpose is the discipline of making the right choices, of moving through the chaos that faces us at every turn, and of creating wholeness from the fragments of our lives. It helps us paint a holistic picture of the unique quest we are on and for which we seek meaning. Purpose gives us strength and wisdoms to focus on the right things. While you cannot expect a quick answer to such a vast question, you can gain clarity by asking by engaging in a process of discovery. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Painting a picture of all that you have become in terms of your talents, skills, roles, vocation, and all that you’ve accomplished to get a clear sense of who you are and where you’ve been.
- Visualize who you want to become by asking yourself what unfinished business you still have and by asking yourself where you still need to go.
- Allow yourself to think big so you can create many possibilities that fit your interests and your strengths, and see how far you’re willing to stretch to become more of who you want to be.
- From that list of possibilities, create goals that focus on what you really want out of life in your relationships, at work, your health, finances, knowledge, leisure, etc.
- Identify the challenges and obstacles that have kept you stuck at times; see what lessons they have taught you and what strategies you’ve used to overcome these. Take these lessons with you as strength and guidance for the future.
- Define what success looks like in your own words and on your own terms. Defining what success means to you will help you see what your purpose can be.
Embrace the mysteries of life and accept that your purpose may not fully reveal itself until much later in life. And that’s OK. If it only reveals itself at the end of your life, it will mean that you have lived a full and rich life, with no regrets. And I suspect that living purposefully, every day, until the end is the answer.
In his book, Creativity: Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention (1996), author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says: “The only path to finding out what life is about is a patient, slow attempt to make sense of the realities of the past and the possibilities of the future as they can be understood in the present”. In a sound bite world where we want answers “tout de suite”, it’s hard to accept that the best ideas or solutions can only revealed in “a patient, slow attempt”; that we have to actually work at creating possibilities for the life we want.
The ideas are easy enough to generate; finding and implementing the workable ones is a little trickier. But it’s worth the effort. When you take time to cultivate the possibilities already within, you have a much higher chance of finding the right ones, those that best suit your needs at that particular time in your life. For example, someone can give you 10 possibilities for a new home, but if the possibilities are too far out of reach – too expensive or too far away from your work, they won’t be very useful. You create real possibilities by engaging your imagination and designing activities that are focused on what’s most important to you. By engaging your mind, your heart and your spirit you create the possibilities that ultimately create your desired reality. Sometimes the possibilities help you take giant leaps; sometimes you need possibilities that help you take smaller steps towards an ultimate goal. For possibilities to flow effortlessly, you have to create an inviting environment.
- Start by taking stock of what’s going on in your life and what you’ve accomplished so far. Having a sense of all that you’ve accomplished opens up new possibilities.
- Then ask yourself what unfinished business there is left. Ask what hopes and dreams you still have for your future.
- Ask what your role models would do if they were you?
- Make time for reflection to take your mind off the “busy-ness” that is in your life right now. Reflection can take many forms including quiet time in your favorite place, a conversation with a trusted friend about your future, meditation or taking a retreat.
- Ask big “what” questions. What if…? What would I do if I wasn’t afraid? What’s possible? Then ask the smaller questions – who, where, when, why, what else, what’s next and how.
- When you have an important question, write it down so you’ll see it every day and keep asking the same question for several days to let your subconscious mind create possibilities.
- Use quotes, poems, affirmations and other inspirations to stir your creativity.
- Use creativity tools such as brainstorming, right brain/left brain thinking, mind maps and story boards.
- Start a vision board or create a journal to capture ideas and explore new possibilities for your life.
- Get inspired. Be a kid again for a day. Get on a swing and fly high. Dance, sing or listen to your favorite music.
In the right environment your creativity will fire on all cylinders and you’ll see all the possibilities that are available to you. You’ll amaze yourself at all the ideas you can generate. When you narrow down the workable ideas, you’ll begin to see coincidences emerge and converge to help you make those possibilities a reality. In his book Anam Cara: A book of Celtic wisdom (1997), John O’Donohue says: “All the possibilities of your human destiny are asleep in your soul. You are here to realize and honor these possibilities.” You owe it to yourself to dwell in the possibilities that will help you soar in life and to become all that you are capable of becoming.
When you think of someone who exudes passion, rx who comes to mind? What is it about that person that has passion written all over it? Is it in the way they act, healing what they say or how they express themselves? Passionate people feel enthusiastic and excited about everything they do. You can see it in the sparkle in their eyes and in the energy in their body. Their energy is infectious and it can’t be faked. Passion is an intense burning desire, see a roaring “Yes!” that comes from a deep place in the soul; an intense emotion stirring in the belly that compels us to take action. Passion is the sweet elixir of life. When we’re passionate about what we do, we are in a zone, in flow and passion makes light of the work we do. When we’re passionate we hear a voice inside that says: “I love what I’m doing, I can’t believe they pay me to do this.” When I think about passion, I see a vibrant red allure surrounding two people dancing a passionate tango like they haven’t a care in the world but being in that moment.
When you find the work that connects directly with your passions, you feel boundless energy, like there are no limits to what you can do and how long you can do it. You feel positive and connected to something much grander than yourself. You focus effortlessly, pay attention for long periods of time and easily call on your creativity to resolve obstacles that get in the way. You may even do what you once believed was impossible. And there are physical benefits to doing what you’re passionate about. You laugh more, have that extra bounce in you step and more energy. You sleep better, feel happier and trust more easily.
Passions can be cultivated, even when they have been buried deep inside from years of “busy-ness” and priorities. But you have to make room for your passions to emerge and this can only happen when you create an inviting environment to let your passions flourish.
- It starts with saying “No!” to unimportant things. Clear your calendar of the busy-ness and create a sacred time for yourself. Go to your favourite place and allow yourself to just be.
- Relax, clear your mind, open your heart and listen to the whispers. You can’t hear what your heart is telling you if you’re busy running around, working or connected 24/7.
- Embrace the incredible wisdom that is hidden inside you. Invite it to share the messages you are ready to hear.
- Ask questions that invite your creativity to soars, questions like “What if…?” or “If time was infinite I would…” or “If money was not important I would…”
- Think about your life in broader terms that a job or work. Consider your life from a perspective of work, relationships, health, leisure community and continuous learning.
- Visualize a life where you are doing exactly what you want to do, where you want to do it, with the people who can support you, and picture yourself in that life.
- Take a look at unfulfilled dreams to see if they provide any clues and ask yourself: What dreams am I ready for?” Keep asking this question every day for a couple of weeks and see what emerges.
- Pay attention to the thoughts that occupy your mind as you ponder what’s possible. The most worthy thoughts will keep coming up, again and again, and beg your attention. Write the ideas down so you don’t forget them.
- When you have a few nuggets to work with, engage in brainstorming or mind mapping and see what surfaces. You may surprise yourself.
- As new ideas begin to surface, pay attention to the coincidences, synchronicity and unexplained chance meetings. Often times, when we are open to new ideas, things start happening or we meet people who can help us move in a new direction.
As the ideas begin to flow, capture them in a journal so you can ponder them, elaborate on them and start connecting them to other ideas until a clearer picture emerges. It may take a few weeks or a few months, but if you keep asking the questions and you remain open to new ideas, they will come and soon you’ll have a clear picture of the passions that have lain dormant inside you for so many years. Embrace your newfound passions and tango to your heart’s desires.
If there really were such things as fairy dust and magic lanterns to help make all of your life’s dreams come true, what would you wish for? What urgings deep down inside would command your attention? If there really were no limits, what would you do, where would you go, and who would be there with you? We all wonder, at times, how different life might be if we dared to dream more boldly. And we dream because it is a uniquely a human experience that gives us hope. Although life doesn’t always unfold as planned, priorities change and stuff happens to get in the way of our dreams, we continue to hope that, someday, we will achieve those dreams. And we can be thankful that the twists and turns of life force us, from time to time, to ask ourselves the “what if…” questions and dare us to contemplate new possibilities that eventually take our life in a direction that is more congruent with who we are. Otherwise we may never allow ourselves to do what makes us come alive. Real growth happens in these moments when we pay attention.
So, for a few moments, I invite you to take a deep breath, grab a journal and jump on a magic carpet ride with me. Bring your fairy dust or magic lantern and dare to ask yourself three questions. And I want you to ask these questions from a perspective of no limits… Don’t let all the stuff that’s keeping you “real” get in the way. Silence those negative voices in your head that tell you this is fanciful and unrealistic. Hop on!
1. What is your passion?
Allow your emotions to get stirred with this question. Passion is the burning “Yes!” that comes from a deep place in your soul; an intense emotion stirring deep in your belly that compels you to take action. Passion is the sweet elixir of life. It begs you to consider who you are, where you’ve been and where you’re going. Following your passion is a process of uncovering your soul’s dreams, creating plans to achieve those dreams; boldly embarking on the journey; learning from your challenges; pausing to reflect on what life has taught you and drawing on your inner guidance to achieve your destiny and create an amazing legacy.
2. What is your purpose?
Purpose brings together all that you have learned and the wisdom you have gained to support the realization of your future potential. It creates the intention and motivation to carry out your most important activities, in spite of challenges. Purpose is the fuel that drives you to succeed, provides clarity along the way and helps you achieve the desired outcomes. When you are living on purpose you are giving the gift of your authentic self to the world and making the greatest contribution you can make.
3. What are the possibilities?
Possibilities bring inspiration, imagination and creative energies to bear on what your soul is saying you must do. Possibilities are boundless, creative ideas that tap into your inner genius when you allow the creative juices to flow and engage your soul to help you develop the necessary steps to achieve your goals. Generating possibilities with an open mind and without censoring is the best way to create a meaningful and long list of workable ideas. Once you have a good list, you can sort them, dismiss those that are unrealistic and implement the ones that are aligned with your purpose and goals.
So, go ahead and give yourself permission to take a 20-minute break from the daily grind and get on a magic carpet ride. Allow yourself to dream and generate tons of ideas. Dare yourself to ask these three questions and see where your imagination takes you. Be sure to capture the ideas. Enjoy the ride!