By Lauren Burton, Managing Partner
“Investing in yourself is the best investment you will ever make. It will not only improve your life, it will improve the lives of all those around you.” ―Robin Sharma
Personal growth is essential to developing as a leader. This is because leadership is not so much what you do, but about who you are and the impact you have on those around you and in the world.
My journey over the last 12 years has taken me into almost every place I haven’t wanted to look; childhood trauma, broken families, limiting beliefs, self-betrayal and some good old fashioned drama. I’m sure there is much more to unfold as the years go on but the outcome so far is one of a deep calm, consciousness, ease and a passion for life. Life and leadership are really about healing our wounds so we can be kinder to ourselves and each other. History proves that fighting and fear aren’t working, so let’s evolve, forgive our pasts, love ourselves and extend this love to everyone we come into contact with.
Here are 10 steps to get you on your own way.
1) Create a Daily Practice. A daily practice has so many benefits that I wrote a book on it called Finding You. A daily practice is a way to ground yourself, to reflect, to look after yourself and to be intentional about how you want to show up everyday. Leaders take responsibility for their impact and a daily practice of meditation, or journaling, or gratitude can help you ground and show up authentically and consciously.
2) Get a mentor. It is so affirming to have someone who understands what you are going through, to support and to champion you. Why reinvent the wheel? Learn from other people’s failures and build on their success. We are all standing on the shoulders of giants who came before us, and asking for help is a great leadership skill. Find someone you trust and admire and watch yourself expand.
3) Become a mentor. Pay it forward, share your knowledge and socialise with people of cross cultures, generations, race and social economic group. You will learn a ton, it will expand your mind and help you cultivate greater compassion.
4) Align with your purpose. This can often seem like a huge task and even the word can evoke feelings of overwhelm. But we are all unique and we all have a reason for being here, at this moment in time. Explore things that excite you, that you feel passionate about and that make you emotions- these are all clues that lead you to your purpose. Finding Joe is a great documentary about finding your purpose, you are the hero of your own life- make it count!
5) Get feedback. The Johari Window reminds us to expand ourselves and what is known to us, and one way to do this is to get feedback. We cannot grow when we are blind to some of our behaviours. I for example ‘zone out’ when I am disengaged. This can appear incredibly rude to others. Until I got feedback I was completely unaware of it, I still do it but now I catch myself and consciously focus. Understanding our blind spots is great because it gives us clear areas to work on and develop. Don’t be scared to ask for it, see it as an opportunity to becoming your best.
6) Celebrate failing. This one can seem weird but it’s a great skill. We use the acronym For All I’ve Learnt. FAILing is a great opportunity to learn and grow, so make your failures count! Failing and being a failure is not the same thing!!
7) Get in nature. Connect back to the rhythms of life and your own soul. Nature is a perfect way to do this and it’s great for your health. Go to the ocean, walk in a forest, climb a mountain or a hill, swim, walk, sit against a tree. Nature is a beautiful metaphor for our lives and has so much to teach us, go connect back to the soil, breath in the fresh air and give your immune system a boost.
8) Cultivate joy. This may be one of my favourite leadership practices and it genuinely is. When we are in joy we are vibrating at a higher level of consciousness. We are more creative and open. Do anything that helps you feel joy and make time for it- whether its dancing around to your favourite song, playing with your kids, singing, connecting to loved one or being with animals. Do anything that creates joy for yourself and watch how contagious it is.
9) Get out of your comfort zone. This is a big one; when we are uncomfortable we grow, we see how we act in new situations, we stretch, we learn and develop as people. Learn a new language, a new sport, a new hobby. Do something where you are not an expert. Leaders are often outside of their comfort zone so getting used to it is a great skill to hone. Get comfortable being uncomfortable!
10) Give yourself time. Leadership is ever unfolding, and never ending. It takes time and commitment. Don’t try to get everything done too quickly or think there is an end point. It’s a journey so enjoy the ride. You are in it for the long haul.
Understanding why we behave the way we do, takes time and most importantly the courage to look within at our fears and vulnerabilities. The journey of self-discovery is one that we must choose over and over in order to become our most successful, fulfilled and peaceful selves.