Most of us want to have an impact on something, especially as leaders. We want to matter and make a difference. I have found this to be true in the work place as well as with our loved ones, neighbors and communities. Abraham Maslow, a founder of humanistic psychology and creator of the hierarchy of needs, tells us that self-esteem and the need to contribute, be respected, and needed is an innate human necessity.
Some jump in head first and commit, others sit on the sidelines waiting for the coach to put us in the game. Regardless of your situation or desire, making a difference begins internally. It starts with you. Taking the time and effort to get to know yourself is the absolute best way to begin to make a difference.
Getting to know yourself (mentally, physically and spiritually), will help you prepare to make a difference and prepare for what the world may demand of you. Below are three things I aspire to. I hope these things will encourage you as well:
- Exercise - You may have heard this from different people and sources on many occasions. I would like to share it with you yet another time, because it is so important. You may be surprised how much of a difference you can make when you reap the benefits of a sound body. I find that when I run without my headphones, my mind is just as active as my body. I’ve solved some of my world’s greatest problems in just 4 miles!!
- Arrive early - This is especially hard for those of us with chauffeur responsibilities. Set your alarm 15-30 minutes earlier to give your body a change to transition from slumber to wakefulness. Try to leave for the office or your appointments 15-30 minutes early as well so that you can give your mind a chance to transition into your work. Reduce what I will call “shock of circumstance” by giving yourself a chance to adapt to, think about, and reflect on your immediate environment.
- Slow Down - This is a type of meditation that I have adapted from the book, “Zen Golf: Mastering the Mental Game” by Dr. Joseph Parent. Regardless of the game or situation, the key word here is mental. Find five minutes during your day, every day, for clearing your mind, relieving stress, and/or preparing for action. Find a quiet spot where you will not be interrupted -- an office, closet, or even the bathroom will do! Turn off the lights and sound and close your eyes and just sit. Let your head and chin rest by removing the stress on your neck. Release your shoulders by letting them drop. Let your arms rest on your legs and place both your feet flat on the floor. Relax your muscles and body and feel yourself breathing. With your mind’s eye count from 1 to 100 or slowly recite the alphabet. Concentrate on every number or letter. Without moving, feel your toes and slowly move from there to every part of your body individually. Once done visualize yourself being perfect, doing everything perfectly, and making a difference.
Now it’s time to focus and go out to do great things. As leaders it is imperative that we know ourselves, our capacities, as well as our limitations. We need to use tools and do exercises that prepare us to make a difference and inspire others. Please share the tricks of the trade that help you.