- Create a space to shut off the noise of the world to achieve a fresh outlook on your life and your leadership.
- Take the time to reset your internal compass with a clarity of values and sense of purpose as a leader.
- Learn how to earn the trust and respect of those you serve through authentic relationships.
- Understand the quality of presence and how it creates more productive and engaged employees and relationships.
- Value and model accountability and self- discipline as a trust builder.
- Find clarity about what matters most in your life while living and leading with greater focus and alignment with your highest values.
- Learn how mindfulness, meditation, body integration, and yoga can help you amplify your impact on others.
- Transform the darker side of your nature into your greatest gifts.
- Leave with your own personal leadership development plan.
“You are a leader second. First, you are a human being.” – John Scherer
I know from my own research, and my more than thirty years of experience in the leadership development field, that now more than ever, the world is in need of leaders who are committed to substance over superficial, character over charisma, and service over self-interest. In short, we need leaders who are authentic – people whose inner compass guides their daily actions and who inspire trust by being honest and real. To come to this place of impact and influence requires slowing down, going inside, and developing a relationship with an interior self. It’s about finding one’s voice away from the voices of the world. To attain the capacity to influence in today’s changing, complex, and demanding world, to lead with the depth of a strong authentic presence, requires an inner journey, a journey to one’s heart, a journey to what I call the “Other Everest.”
A year ago I had a dream to create an authentic community of like-minded leaders – difference makers – who are committed to go deeper than what I was offering in my keynote and one day leadership programs. Last week I saw this dream come to fruition at the Banff Centre when thirty-one remarkable, authentic, caring leaders came together to create a pivotal moment in my career. Assisting me by integrating mindfulness training, creativity, accountability, self-awareness, and yoga into the experience of deepening one’s leadership presence, were two extraordinary human beings, Julianna Veldtman and Jeff Lichty.
During the three days we co-created an amazing space to pause, to go within, and to connect with our authentic selves. These leaders are committed to amplifying their impact through increased self-awareness and a stronger, clearer purpose and presence and created a community of support with other authentic leaders. Together we discovered a renewed perspective on leadership and immersed ourselves, in the words of one participant, in “an inspiring space of complete trust, kindness and support.” Another participant, a CEO from Edmonton, explained it this way a week after the experience, “It seems so surreal looking back at it now. How was it possible to bring those exact people together at that exact time to make the magic happen? I cannot fully describe the life-changing event that you set the stage for and made happen. Truly, truly amazing.”
Words cannot adequately describe my own profound gratitude for the honesty, courage, vulnerability, engagement, openness, and trust that these amazing leaders put into the experience. They actually left their devices and technology at the door for three full days and engaged themselves completely in the process. I left with a deep and sustaining knowing that leadership is truly not about position; it’s about presence. Leadership cannot be reduced to techniques or tools. True Leadership is about connecting to our authentic self and bringing that self wholeheartedly to the service of others.
My father used to say that, “only so far as a man is happily married to himself, is he fit for married life.” By embarking on a journey of integration and inner peace, one expands their capacity to fully reach and influence the world. It’s about being engaged in a perpetual process of becoming. The experience last week has made me a better person. It has confirmed my conviction that a person enlarges their ability to lead and impact others through a strong presence that is attained, in large part, through an inner journey.
Each of us has within us a calling. While the outside world pushes us, something within pulls us. Let your deepest desires lead you. If this sounds like a journey upon which you would like to embark, watch for details for the next retreat in December on my website. Also feel free to send us a note expressing an interest: http://www.davidirvine.ca/contact/.
I look forward to having you join us for the next one.
Balancing poses in my yoga practice are the most difficult for me. I’ve learned that the harder I try to balance myself, the more I lose my balance. I’ve learned, from good yoga teachers over the years, that instead of trying to balance to: “Relax. Stop judging. Stop ‘trying.’ Breathe. Sometimes you’ll find the balance; sometimes you won’t. Keep practicing.”
We talk about work-life balance these days as if it is something to be achieved like running a marathon, making a sale or achieving a goal. Then when we fall short of our expectations we are critical of ourselves for a lack of balance in our life. I’ve met people who leave their offices religiously at 4:30 every day, only to go home to a life that is terribly out of balance. I’ve also met people who will stay at work until 10 some nights and actually live in a balanced way. Balance in life, like balance in a yoga posture, isn’t really about balance at all. You can’t achieve balance, because balance is not a destination. It’s a method of travel. Work-life balance is, instead, about being centered and living fully.
Keep in mind three principles that will help you find balance.
- Sort out what’s work and what is life. Become clear about what work is and what life is, and make sure you have this sorted out. Even if work is tremendously fulfilling, it isn’t my life. In the periods in my life when I’ve been a workaholic, I had this confused. My work was my life. Work defined me as a person, so I had to work harder and harder in order to be a good person. I know today that my work is an expression of my life, but it is not the totality of my life. While work remains important and is fulfilling, it no longer defines me. My life is much bigger than my work. I remind myself these days that when I’m away from work, my life is time with my family, friends, community, being in nature, or helping others. I’ve learned that although work is critical to my development, when I define myself by my work, I am partially avoiding life. That part I need to say no to, walk away from, and learn how to be in life.
- Clarify your Values. The antidote to exhaustion is not rest. The antidote to exhaustion is alignment and wholeheartedness. In my Authentic Leadership workshops, I have participants reflect upon their future and what matters most to them. I ask them to think about their relationships, health, contributions to others, expression of their talents, and the time they set aside for inner growth. This is an excellent exercise for you, too. From your reflections, list the top five values in your life. Then rate your life in each area on a scale from 1-10. Be honest. This is your list, not anyone else’s. At the beginning of each week, make sure that you schedule time in your day-planner to attend to each of these values. Balance is about living in alignment with your values. Feeling out of balance indicates that energy is being drained from you by living your life according to someone else’s conditions. Carve out time on a weekly basis for your soul’s desires. A key for living fully is to say “no” to the wrong opportunities.
- Develop a positive relationship with the present moment. Being rushed, impatient, frustrated, or stressed are indicators that you are not present. You are either speeding forward or thinking about the past, without concentrating on being here now. Living fully is about fully living in the present. Next time you are stressed with a project, impatiently waiting in line, or frustrated with a co-worker, heed the guidance of my yoga teacher and take a few deep breaths to connect with yourself. Look around and see how you can be present with the world around you. Notice the beauty of a flower or plant nearby. Smile at the person ahead of you in the checkout line. Take time to really listen without judging the person you are frustrated with. It’s quite amazing how balanced you can feel in the midst of perceived pressure if you remember to stop and be here now. The best present you can give anyone is to be fully present in the present.
- Stop trying to get more balance in your life, and enjoy your day. Stress isn’t in the task at hand or from the demands of others. Stress is in my head. Being stressed is a choice. And I’m not going to wait for tomorrow to enjoy myself. If I can’t enjoy myself today it’s not going to get any better when I’m on a vacation or retired. I can enjoy each task and stay relaxed in midst of the tasks. There is no stress except what I chose to be stressed about. There is only work to be done. Enjoy the precious moments that are in front of you right now. None of us know how many of these moments we have left. While we can plan for the future, life is lived in the now. Life will never be experienced tomorrow or yesterday. Life is what is going on at this moment. Life happens. Enjoy it.
George Bernard Shaw, the Irish playwright, philosopher, and a co-founder of the London School of Economics, said that,
“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”
You don’t need a title to be a “force of nature” in order to embrace leadership. I’ve seen people with no title whatsoever who are changing the world. Here are my seven keys to being a force of nature.
- A vision. What is your dream, your highest aspiration? What gets you up early? What inspires you to stay late, to learn the extra skills, to go the extra mile? This could be a higher purpose, a mental picture of a new reality for yourself and others that you are excited about. In short, do you possesses a vision for the future?
- Passion. “The history of mankind is the story of people selling themselves short,” wrote Abraham Maslow. You are more than you believe and passion is a key that unlocks the door to new possibilities. Influencing others starts on the inside. Passion begets passion.
- A decision. A choice to do your part however big or small that may be, to be a part of the solution, instead of a part of the problem. Decisions are what change lives. You can change the course of your very existence with a single decision.
- A commitment to serve. To make the world better by your presence. There appears to be two kinds of people in the world: Those who help, and those who hinder; those who give and those who take; those who lift, and those who lean; those who contribute, and those who consume. Which will you be?
- Love. Being a force of nature, at least a positive force, means that you are driven by love. If you are uncomfortable with the word “love,” call it caring, because impacting others means caring for people, not manipulating them.
- Authenticity. Great leadership – influencing others with love – cannot be reduced to technique; great leadership comes from the identity and integrity of the leader.
- Strong Character. There is no real excellence in this world that can be separated from right living. Character is the courage to face the demands of reality. It is integral to being a force of nature.Character means means standing on strong moral ground – uncompromising principles – and then being accountable – being a person who can be counted on.
What are your keys for being a force of nature? How are you a change agent by being a force of nature?