Cultivate a New Kind of ROI: Your Relationship With You

The world needs more resilient leaders, at every level. You are a leader whether you consider that obvious or it takes you out of your comfort zone. We are all leaders, leading from our chairs, wherever they may be. It may be personal leadership — the care and feeding of you, your family, your community. It may take the form of professional leadership launching or leading a company and impacting tens, hundreds, thousands of other lives.

Leadership is manifest in external relationships, but ultimately, it’s an inside job; positive change always starts within. Resilient leadership is the ability to lead oneself and inspire others to act in the face of challenge and change, with clarity of mind, body, and spirit to create good in the world.

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. Many leaders excel at achieving the former but neglect to cultivate the latter, not realizing that the two are inextricably linked. 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. Work-life integration (balance is a myth!) requires deeper insight and intentional reflective practices to build a solid foundation, without which everything else is a house of cards.

Lean Into and Learn from the Contours of Your Life

Understanding the contours of your life and the story of who you are (or the story you tell yourself, the one you play on repeat, like that earworm song) is a powerful, vulnerable, first step into becoming a more authentic human and more resilient leader. This is an opportunity for you to become more conscious of your “story” so you can become, more clearly, the author of your own future. Who you are is an amalgamation of where you’ve been and what you have experienced.

It’s revealing to examine our patterns, particularly our unhelpful ones, that we fall into over and over — in relationships with others, in our reactions to challenge, to failure, even to success, to leadership opportunities, and more. We may have glossed over important experiences that weigh us down like too much baggage. It takes a bird’s eye view to see those patterns, and it often requires the help of a professional trained in this sensitive work. But it’s crucial, I believe, to become more conscious of your “story” so you can become, clearly and intentionally, the author of future chapters.

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.

Life’s Greatest Illusion

The Reality of Life

Many of us have bought into the myth that hard work and longer hours are the sure recipe for success. Sure, work, effort and even sometimes sacrifice is required to achieve desired results, but we’ve gotten the equation out of balance. Life is cyclical, it’s rarely a straight line driven solely by grind. 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. This grind mentality isn’t working because we are designed as nature is designed — in a cyclical fashion. We breathe in and out. 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:

✓ What does your story teach you about your next best steps?

✓ What have been consistent themes in your life?

✓ Which patterns should you continue and which should you let go?

Define Your Drivers and Clarify Your Values

The more you understand your story, your strengths and weakness, the patterns that you cycle through and those that repeat themselves long after their usefulness has served — the easier it is for your foresight vision to be 20/20. Once you’ve activated this level of intentional reflection and the deeper insights gleaned, it will be important to define your drivers by clarifying your values. This will help guide your daily actions and 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 feel most in flow like they are living a life of authenticity, impact and fulfillment.

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. 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.

Learn from clarifying your values:

✓ Who have been three heroes or heroines in your life?

✓ What did their actions tell you about their values?

✓ How can you make choices in alignment with those values?

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Barbara Waxman

Barbara Waxman

Resilient Leadership Coach, Middlescence Life Stage Expert, Gerontologist, Speaker, Author