Life, Love, & Leadership Lessons In Unlikely Places

Kind of funny, isn't it, how you can find lessons about life, love, and leadership almost everywhere, provided there’s openness to seeing them.

I didn't expect that thought to bubble up in a spin class while pedaling furiously, breathing wildly, and trying frantically to ignore an uncomfortable bike saddle.

Part of my second chance at a meaningful second act of life includes paying more attention, working to be my best self, and encouraging others to do the same. Growing into my best self includes more time at the gym.

There I spin, stretch, sweat and let my mind soar, taking in many things I used to overlook or take for granted, like these three thoughts.

Purposeful Discomfort Helps You Grow

I’m guilty of letting my comfort zone resemble a pair of favorite old shoes—easy, comfy but an unthinking go-to. Of course, I needed a cosmic 2 by 4 whack to shake me lose and force me into purposeful discomfort, the name I have given to intentional introspection focused on challenging and exposing self-imposed limitations. I’m pushing boundaries and giving myself permission to go slow in doing so.

I want to explore, experiment, play, try on, fail, discard, regroup, savor, and try again. I like the advice from Andy Molinsky, Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at Brandeis University's International Business School, when he says, “Adaption takes time, effort, strategy, and determination. [Have] a sold plan in place and the courage to take it forward.”

A plan, some time, and a dose of courage - I can do that. And you?

You Have To Pursue The Right Goals

As a corporate refugee, I look back at places where I worked and see that we made things harder and more competitive than they needed to be. Competing and winning miss the point — there is, or should be, a greater purpose beyond bigger and better numbers and more money.

When the super-buff fellow to my left in spin class challenged me to a race up the hill I shook my head no. In years past, I would have taken his challenge. Silly old me, getting caught up in the race for winning and bragging rights in pursuit of a victory without a purpose other than coming in first. First place or awesome numbers are no longer my singular goal.

Of course, I want to get fit, for the umpteenth time in my life, but my eye is on achieving eudaemonia, the good life. I like how Martin Seligman, psychologist and author, sums up this concept, when he writes it is:

"The good life, which is what Thomas Jefferson and Aristotle meant by the pursuit of happiness. They did not mean smiling a lot and giggling. Aristotle talks about the pleasures of contemplation and the pleasures of good conversation. Aristotle is not talking about raw feeling, about thrills. Aristotle is talking about what Mike Csikszentmihalyi works on, and that is, when one has a good conversation, when one contemplates well, when time stops. You feel completely at home. Self-consciousness is blocked. You're one with the music."

That’s a goal worth living for.

Leadership Is The ULtimate Me/We Connection

It’s next to impossible to lead others if you aren’t doing a good job of leading yourself. I like the four-part leadership framework professor Keith Grint provides in Leadership Limits and Possibilities - leadership as person, results, position, and process. The three we parts - results, position, and process - can’t be effective if the person part is missing.

“If you seek to lead, invest at least 50% of your time leading yourself—your own purpose, ethics, principles, motivation, conduct,” observes Dee Hock, founder and former CEO of Visa.

Getting me right includes being an inclusive, paradoxical thinker; having good character; being unafraid to bring heart to all that you do; and being strong enough to be vulnerable. Once you can do and be all these things, then we happens beautifully, powerfully, and splendidly.

May be all this is a fifth part to Grint’s framework—leadership as purpose. What say you?

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