A mark of leaders is their decisiveness in the absence of certainties. Yet, many leaders indicated at the end of 2021 an unpreceded exhaustion that has come from the sustained mental overload - so many things being out of control for extended periods of time – often on the work front as well as at home.
Who wants to talk about New Year’s resolutions and goal setting in a state of exhaustion or in the realisation that the world is in a continuous flux? I want to propose a different reflection at the outset of this year.
Imagine yourself sitting at the piano with the ability to write any music to reflect the life and world you want to create in 2022. What would be the sound?
You might laugh this question off saying you don’t play music – but stay with me, that’s not the point.
What life will you intentionally create in 2022? How can you amplify or change the tune of your life in 2022 or even write and play a new song no matter what the circumstances you find yourself in?
Here are five empowering questions that will help you write ‘new melodies’, ‘new lyrics’ for your life, your leadership, your sphere of influence and move beyond what has been.
1. What will my life sound like in 2022? OR: Which qualities of a leader do I want to embody in 2022? Who do I want to become day by day?
I love this question because it starts with an imagination of who I could be at my very best and then working that sound out in daily choices. Say, I want to be a calm, wise, courageous leader in 2022. I might choose to write and play a hope filled, inspiring, victorious, cinematic music. I can be certain life will throw at me plenty of opportunities to practise calm, wise courageous as the chosen qualities and usually these opportunities present themselves in circumstances that are the complete opposite to the virtues we want to develop. Instead of being flustered I will affirm the sound, the chosen virtues and I won’t easily abandon them. I will strive to be that leader, hum that tune to cheer myself on and have grace with myself along the way when I do not quite live up to my expectations yet. What will be the sound of my leadership both at home and at work? What sounds will I no longer play in 2022?
2. Whose tunes will I follow? OR: Which previous limitation will be my gateway to greater freedom?
Ever felt like you where marching to someone else’s tune and you didn’t even like the tune? You were humming that annoying jingle you couldn’t get out of your head? Ever found yourself tired of blaming others or circumstances for where you are at in life? Now imagine a life without excuses. Without winching, whining, complaining or blaming others. Think about what has agitated you the most over the last year(s). Own this area. Choose to no longer complain about it or blame others for it and instead turn your complaints into the “bridge” in the new song you will play this year. No one has the power to make you sing their tune unless you give them permission to. The more we complain the more we victimise ourselves and the less we can change our circumstances. The more we realise and own our choices, the more intentional we can become at creating a new song and deliberate future. Many anthems of freedom have had their roots in prison cells. The bridge in a song usually takes you from the versus to the chorus. It’s the connector that changes things up. Why not acknowledge the dissatisfaction with one aspect of my current life AND setting out to changing it?
3. What song does the world need to hear and sing right now? OR: What do I have to offer the world right now?
Will it be a Country Song? Jazz? Rock? Pop? Will the theme be one of lament or inspiration? A comeback song? Something transformative never been written before? This season is not the time to sit back and wait. Neither is it the time to belittle what we have to contribute or to think it is hubris to consider our global footprint. We all have one. For too long we have been on the sidelines waiting for others to give us permission to sing, to be bold, to be generous, to act, to be strong and courageous. Leaders speak up and act with a sense of urgency having abandoned perfectionism and insecurity that says “What will others think?” It is easy to get over ourselves when we remind ourselves that leading is not about us. It is about serving the world with our unique skill set, with all of who we are right now. What will be my next note as incomplete as it may sound, or as much as that piano might need some tuning?
4. How do I conduct myself and others right now? OR: What is my mission to my world right now?
A conductor keeps the big picture in mind but knows and is attentive to their own posture and every player, every instrument’s sound. My world is different to THE world. My world is my immediate setting. Leaders direct themselves and others for a higher purpose. My world might need a soft tune today and a bold one tomorrow. For some it could mean deliberate choices and changes in their career, for others being more present and empathetic as a mother or daughter or friend to someone going through a tough season. It might mean there is a need to provide for someone, to look after one’s health, to help someone step up in leadership, or to make some tough calls. Perceiving the multiple needs by others and discerning my personal mission reduces complexities. Instead of ‘I need to’, I ‘have to’ our personal mission in 2022 suggests we ‘get to’ we ‘want to’. This is more than semantics. It is empowering our tunes. I says: I know and own my mission. E.g. I choose to make time for my daughter, I want to save now for retirement. I get to provide for my children. I choose to spend time at the local nursing home. Choosing empowering language for our mission is the first step to creating inspiring lyrics and melodies others will want to sing along to.
5. How do I play the tune like a pro in 2022? OR: What areas do I need to grow into in 2022?
Anyone can sit at a piano and smile. It takes practise to do something amazing with it. This question talks about your growth. Write down five areas you choose to grow in to deliver on your life’s mission and consider multiple options that will help you accomplish growth in that you can get excited about. Are there courses you have a desire to take, books you want to read? Mentors or coaches you want to seek out? Leaders you want to grow around you? Articles, books that beg you to be written, videos you can film, websites you plan to create, products services skills you want to develop and panels you want to host etc? Confidence and courage are closely linked. Courage is a muscle that grows with each step we take, each lesson we learn, each stretch we embrace and confidence is a by product that fuels more courage for the journey.
The song of 2022 might start with a tender, for some of us maybe even with a trembling voice but we just started playing the first notes of verse one …let’s remember: no one starts with a crescendo…it builds up over time!
Here is to 2022 being a year pleasing to our ears!
To explore your life and growth and transition with an executive life and leadership coach please contact me for a complementary discovery session.