Leaders are people who help shape the reality around them. That much is obvious. It can also be argued that leaders themselves are shaped by the very words and actions they use to influence their team, organization or culture. What is less recognized is that a leader’s unspoken and often unconscious thoughts and beliefs also impact the world around them. The best leaders have the courage to explore the feedback they are getting from team interactions in order to learn, grow and transform themselves and increase their effectiveness.
It is impossible to take an action without that action impacting you. We are all participants in a process of shaping our immediate world experience while also being shaped by it. Conventional wisdom tells us that leaders have been given more power and responsibility to impact the world around them. However, as you read on, note that evidence of self-awareness and courageous action can highlight even the most junior hire as a true leader.
If you want to improve your leadership, then pause and consider this: your thoughts have power for good or for ill not only within your personal physical and psychological structure but also within the larger world. Do you entertain thoughts of anger or resentment of others? Then you are damaging yourself and also damaging those around you. Your thoughts shape your moods and feelings, your feelings shape your actions and your actions impact or shape those around you. Additionally, medical research tells us that our immune system is impacted by our thoughts and emotions, and sociology and psychology inform us that the system of people that form the web of relationships around you is also affected.
Are you consciously shaping a better world for yourself and your team and those you love? What is the “story” you tell yourself about your place in the world and your power to make a positive difference? Is it a story that shapes successful outcomes for you and those around you, that promotes inspiration, joy and connection, or is it a story that diminishes your ability to create what you want out of life and your work experience?
Try this experiment: for one day or several, write down every judgment – “good” or “bad” – that you make in the privacy of your mind, in relation to your work experience, including about your work colleagues. Examine the theme. Be as ruthlessly honest as you can. Note if this theme extends into your personal life. Awareness is the first step toward leadership mastery and often brings about positive change in and of itself. Keep in mind that the content of your thoughts, and the emotions tied to those thoughts, either shape you to be more effective and joyful in your life and work, or they shape you into functioning in a more diminished, less effective and cynical manner.
What are you shaping in your life, and how are you allowing yourself to be shaped?