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I’m experiencing that phenomenon right now—but with a poem.
Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem about finding your footing in the questions that confound you has found its footing in me. At first, I was willing prey to Rilke’s repetition, welcoming the little earworm whispering, “live everything…live the questions…live along some distant day…” Then, I had an epiphany: Rilke is praising the possibility and promise of embracing instability as a grounding force—an earworm from which we could all seek wisdom in this era of unrelenting uncertainty. While we may long for a return to “normal,” the reality may be that instability is the norm. It’s what we can count on, and it’s up to us to find equanimity in that tricky place. Or as Rilke articulates:
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
So, friends, compelled by my Rilke-reciting earworm, I’m putting my skills to work, and I invite you to join me. Together we will embrace this endless instability, tighten up our cores and find the best of ourselves in this new balancing act. To live the questions with deep authenticity calls for resilient leadership—a new kind of ROI of your time and energy. That return will be defined by what you care about—what you value and your sense of purpose.
The world needs more resilient leaders, at every level, whether we are leading ourselves into a new pursuit, leading a family, leading a company, or doing all three at once. Leadership, though manifest in external relationships, is ultimately an inside job. Resilient leadership is the ability to lead oneself and inspire others to act with clarity of mind, body, and spirit to create good in the world—especially in the face of challenge and change. Resilient leaders cultivate a new kind of ROl where they reap not only the rewards, influence, and impact of effective leadership but also create a sustainable and fulfilling personal life. The former, as I outline in my latest report, The Future of Resilient Leadership, is built on intentional management of three pillars: mindset, energy, and work-life integration.
Understanding the contours of your life and the story of who you are is a powerful, vulnerable, first step to becoming a more authentic human and more resilient leader. To get to the heart of who we are, we must examine our patterns, particularly our unhelpful ones. How do we conduct ourselves in relationships with others? What are our reactions to challenge, to failure, even to success? It takes a bird’s eye view to see those patterns, and it often requires the help of a professional trained to see through your self-mythology to get to the core of who you are. By becoming more conscious of your “story,” you can become, clearly and intentionally, the author of future chapters.
We’ve been programmed to believe that hard work, longer hours will result in a straight line of success. The truth couldn’t be more different.
Sure, work, effort and even sometimes sacrifice can be cornerstones to success but we’ve gotten the equation out of balance. I see many clients who treat themselves more like the computers they work on. An on/off switch—waiting to reboot when about to crash—uploading a new, personal OS when the old one gets irreparably damaged. I see this when stress causes illness, and a client comes to me in crisis, realizing that only then, they need to make changes.
Life is cyclical, it’s rarely a straight line driven solely by grind. Just like everything in nature, we have periods of productivity and dormancy. We need rest, a season of shedding the old, of retreat, before spring’s new growth.
The more you understand your story, your strengths and weakness, your patterns—the easier it is for your foresight to be 20/20. Once you’ve activated this level of intentional reflection, it will be important for you to integrate your insights by clarifying your values. This will equip you to make choices that feel authentic.
Values are the beliefs, attitudes, and judgments that make up the basis of your decision-making and allow you to feel intentional about your choices. Those who understand what drives their decision-making are the ones who enjoy a life of authenticity, impact and fulfillment.
Carl Jung wrote that all adults have both an inner child and an old sage within them (he didn’t mention an ear-worm but I’m sure he would agree). Honoring the energy, curiosity and spontaneity of your inner child, while also being still enough to hear the quiet voice of your inner sage, is what will enable you to be clear about who you are, how you show up and what you do. Defining your drivers and clarifying your values is taking stock of what makes you uniquely you.
This popular Mastery Week will help you align the wisdom and insights you'll surface to guide you to say yes with conviction and no with clarity as you embrace the authorship of your next chapter. Join veteran master faculty Barbara Waxman and MEA Facilitator Aparna Shute on the journey of a lifetime!
Resilient leaders cultivate a new kind of ROl where they reap not only the rewards, influence, and impact of effective leadership but also create a sustainable and fulfilling personal life.