I have recently returned from a pretty special holiday celebrating my best mate’s 50th. There is nothing like a break and a change of culture to renew one’s perspective. I came home realising that I was becoming burnt out and had lost not only my balanced view but also, potentially, my sense of humour. I realised that I had become focused on hearing the negative and was allowing this to affect and undermine my sense of self. I had forgotten to ‘know my truth’ and stand strong in my life journey – committed to leaving this place better than I found it.
We all have moments in life when it is hard to see the forest for the trees. Where other’s opinions are loud and harsh. What we tend to forget is that they are only opinions and come from one person’s perspective of life. If they are angry with life, they tend to see only the anger in it, just as if one is happy with life they will look for the good in it.
To be clear feedback is important – even if you don’t have a choice in how it arrives, you do have a choice in how you receive it. It provides the opportunity to review one’s approach, check in so to speak and look at one’s motives. One can choose to learn and grow from the experience; it can strengthen ones resolve or simply be recognised as venting and thus has actually nothing to do with you. The other option is to retaliate like with like or allow it to feed the self doubt and we already live in a world where too many people lack self belief.
So, I’m going to take a leaf out of the Balinese and be more happy. Laugh more often, hug my daughter more, hang out with more good, like-minded people, spend time smelling the roses and being even more grateful for this incredible country that we live in – my golly we are spoilt. Not saying that there isn’t plenty that needs to be addressed – sooner rather than later I trust.
At the end of the day, it’s about perspective and our conscious decision on how we choose to see the world – or more to the point, how we choose to participate. Be part of the problem or be part of the solution. My choice, of course, is to stand tall and be part of the change for a better tomorrow.
Last Saturday I attended the 60th annual conference of the Northland RSA Women’s Section (70th anniversary for the Far North section). I was once again heartened by the beautiful, kind-hearted people who quietly go about making our world a better place and who obviously have lots of fun in the process.
The experience has added to my thoughts on the importance of leadership and what it actually means in this day and age, particularly at a time when I personally struggle to be inspired by some of the current world offerings. When one looks around and takes in what seems to be attracting the attention of the masses, it is no wonder we are where we are – a world on a tipping point.
Google provides a multitude of explanations of what leadership looks like. Some are very insightful. For me, however, it’s simply that our leaders come in all shapes and sizes. Some are out in front and others are tucked in behind. These leaders can be doing the mahi, flying the flag, dealing with the strategy… At the end of the day, true leadership is not necessarily a loud voice, or fancy jargon. It is, I believe, bravely speaking the words that need to be heard, undertaking the actions that need to be taken – all with wisdom and integrity. And, without a doubt, it is being part of the team, because leaders are nothing without the team.
It is said that small acts can change the world, and indeed they have. Which brings me to an important point: we are all leaders in our own right. We all have the power to lead our own lives and not just let life happen to us. Whether we choose to make the most of what we have and find we are an inspiration to others, or we purposely put ourselves out there, the reality is that both approaches are important types of leadership.
One of the great challenges for natural leaders (i.e. those not looking solely for glory), is that they often resist the mantle of leadership. Stepping into the limelight has never been easy for these leaders and, in this era of immediate ‘feedback’, it can be a little soul-destroying too. But that feedback can also be very grounding and useful, especially for evolving one’s approach.
When pondering what makes great leaders, look no further than those beating the drum for their communities. The people who stay awake at night wondering how they can help, how they can touch the hearts of the disconnected, how they can make the day of the lonely and raise the aspirations of all those they care deeply about. These are great leaders. Our natural leaders.