Resilient Leadership© Series

Your Relationship With You

How to lean into life’s confounding questions to align your values and arrive at a more authentic you.

Have you ever had a song stuck in your head? Then, on the song’s 50th solo tour through your mind, you notice it contains a depth of meaning that subtly remolded your worldview without your realizing it.

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:

“Live everything. Live the questions…”

I want to beg you, as much as I can. To be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers which cannot be given to you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually without noticing it. Live along to some distant day into the answer.

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.

What if you could be the person you want to be?

What if you felt clear about your self-leadership and leadership of others?

A New Kind of ROI:
Your Relationship with You

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.

Lean Into and Learn from the Contours of Your Life

Everything that happens to you, is your teacher. The secret is to sit at the feet of your own life and be taught by it.

– Polly Berends

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.

Strive for Work Life Integration, Not Balance

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.

Resilient Leadership: Life's Greatest Illusion with Leadership Coach Barbara Waxman
Resilient Leadership: The Reality of Life with Leadership Coach Barbara Waxman

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.

Learn From Your Life Story

Define Your Drivers and Clarify Your Values

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.

Define Your Drives and Clarify Your Values with Resilient Leadership Coach Barbara Waxman

Intrinsic Values:Less tangible, providing inner satisfaction and motivation. These values reflect what you stand for and how you show up.

Extrinsic Values: Assigned by external factors and are typically associated with tangible conditions and rewards.

Lifestyle Values: Expressed in work and leisure behavior patterns and are often experienced as the small choices that make a big difference.

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.

Clarify Your Values by Living the Questions:




The Future of Resilient Leadership

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