I have an extremely important question for you.
What breaks your heart?
What do you envision for the world, and for yourself? And how is that connected to how you are living your life now?
Emotion is a source of life. It plays an important role in how we think and behave. Remember the heartbreaking ASPCA commercials? You know the one. With Sarah McLachlan’s song “Angel” as clips of hurting animals flash across your screen. Though emotionally brutal, the commercial raised $30 million in the first two years of its release. Those who donated to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals knew it was important and said to themselves “something needs to be done about this.” We all must lean into the things that break our heart, because that’s going to be what promotes change.
In 2012 my mom was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. I was in college at the time and I’ll never forget the day when my little brother and I wanted to make s’mores. We were in the apartment roasting marshmallows over the stove top when my mom walked in, saw what was going on, and began to disapprove…loudly. You might’ve even called it yelling. I didn’t get yelled at often, unless it was for my snarky attitude, so I knew this was something serious. Was I getting yelled at because I was lighting marshmallows on fire in the kitchen? No. It was because my mom found out I had already eaten four of these delicious delights and clearly, I wasn’t stopping. “Do you know how much sugar is in those things?!” She voiced. Well yeah, obviously I knew. But I thought “why should I care?”
That day I saw something in my mom’s eyes that I hadn’t seen before. Disappointment. It is the worst feeling when you see disappointment on your parents’ face. And it broke my heart. I wasn’t taking care of my own health, making my mom unmotivated about her own and instead worry about mine. I decided then that I needed to focus better on my lifestyle and my nutrition. Not for my present self, or my future self, but for my mom. I knew my “why.” The experience my mom was going through empowered me to better define these values in myself.
Know What You Want
Experience is acquired. We are always learning from the experiences life brings and it is through these experiences that give us perspective and enable us to define our values. Experience cannot be bought or transferred from one person to another. Each of us run a different race.
“We don’t drift in good directions. We discipline and prioritize ourselves there.”
What in your life right now do you keep putting off? What is it that you just don’t find the time to get around to because of the other, less important stuff? Now ask yourself: what do you want?
Even if small, what is in you that must bring about change? The minute you decide to focus on what you want, you must give it a meaning, and that meaning produces emotion. And that emotion creates the action.
Monitor Your Heart and Behavior
If we have the right emotion, we can get ourselves to do anything. We should all look to progress toward work that stirs our passion, making us feel alert and energized. At PHOS, we know our “why.” The purpose that ignites our passion and our quest for a greater purpose in what we do every day. As humans, we are all emotional creatures as well as thinking ones. Whether you’re a parent, a spouse, son or daughter, a CEO, or a colleague we all have goals and reach them in different ways. Monitoring your heart and behavior requires constantly checking your motives and feelings. It’s what gives you the direction on what to say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to. We are all leaders, and as leaders, we hate to see broken things be broken. Broken-hearted leaders affect change.
Build for Your Future Self
Have you ever given yourself a New Year’s resolution? Have you ever come up short of achieving said resolution? We each, at some point, struggle to embrace short-term work for long-term benefits. We have an unequal battle between our present self and our future self. Think about it, we all love our present self because it’s here now. It’s in power and control at this very moment. It has these strong, heroic arms that can lift doughnuts into our mouth and our future, health-conscious self isn’t here to tell us no. No one’s there to stick up for our future self, so our present self can trounce all over its dreams.
Unless we shift our mental models and our mental maps in how we think about the short term, our goals might never be reached. And our future self is going to be the one that pays the price.
Take Action Sooner
Take action sooner in the direction that most aligns with your innermost desire and being.
- Visualize the prize.
- Be intentional about what you say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to.
That concept of victory is what’s going to help you progress toward each step in your process.
Create a Disciplined Lifestyle
Every morning we discipline ourselves to wake up and get out of bed. Whether we have to go to work, get the kids ready, or just don’t want to be a potato all day; we discipline ourselves in some way every day. We all know that “practice makes perfect” so think of self-discipline like a muscle, the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets. If you struggle with self-discipline and self-leadership, here are two things you can practice every day:
1. Always Show Up
If you’re willing to “show up” or practice at something every day, you will eventually see the results you want. If you don’t show up at all, you’ll be left guessing, wondering and speculating.
2. Keep Doing
Keep producing and churning out the best work you can. Maybe it’s not viewed as the best work to others, but it’s a lot better than doing nothing.
Realize that self-discipline is not a one-time event. It has to become your lifestyle, because that’s what’s going to give you influence. When you practice self-awareness and self-direction and encourage and inspire others to do the same. It’s through you leading yourself that motivates others to perform at their best. That’s leadership.
What we’re reading this month in our internal Leadership Development Program is a book by Clay Scroggins called, “How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge.” With practical wisdom and humor, Clay puts forth the myth of authority that you have to be in charge in order to create influence. But the truth is that we all can lead from the seat we’re in right now. You can be the great leader you want to be and make a difference from right where you are.
Start gaining influence now so you’re ready to take the lead tomorrow.
We must lead ourselves before we can lead others. Take whatever responsibility you have now, own it, and be amazing at it. Others will take notice and doors will open.
We are all role models for one another and how we behave moment by moment sometimes powerfully influences the behavior of those around us. At least once every day, try to ask yourself whether your life is setting a good example for others, and yourself, to follow. The ability we have to make our world better starts with how we live our life now. Take responsibility to make great what you can make great.