But even better than learning to recover quickly is learning not to be knocked off-balance in the first place. Like a tree putting down deeper roots, if we deepen our relationship with ourselves, increasing our self-awareness and connection with ourselves, we become less likely to be blown over in a storm.
Then, when times are calm, a deeper more solid self-connection enables us to spread our leadership ‘branches’ out wider, into larger challenges and roles.
Everyone is different but there are four main ways that we can easily achieve this deeper self-connection.
The first three are exercise, creativity, and meditation:
“Exercise,” says John Ratey, psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, “is the single best thing you can do for your brain in terms of mood, memory, and learning. Even 10 minutes of activity changes your brain.”
Mind and body are one system. We hold snags and tensions from our minds in our bodies. So shifting the body is an effective way to shift and free the mind. As just one example, Richard Branson says he gets four extra productive hours each day from a range of workouts that include swimming, rock climbing, running, weightlifting, and yoga.
In a changing world, the ability to innovate becomes a critical part of every leader’s toolset. Innovation is applied creativity, so developing your creative ‘muscle’ will strengthen your ability to innovate.
Engaging with the arts is a powerful way to experiment with new ways of seeing, new forms of solution. Choosing the right arts for you will also recharge your batteries, refuel your tank.
Steve Jobs, co-founder and CEO of Apple, was well known for practising Zen Buddhism. He said, “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.” Meditation connected him with that inner voice.
Science has shown that meditation and other forms of mindfulness generate higher capacities to concentrate and to manage our emotions. Gandhi used the power of meditation to bring down an entire empire, non-violently.
All three of these approaches can be combined with the fourth: spending time in nature.
Any form of contact with nature can be beneficial but visits to hills or large bodies of water can be especially beneficial. In Japan the benefits of short, leisurely visits to forests are well known and are called ‘forest bathing‘.
The relationship we have with ourselves is the most important relationship we have. It is the only one that lasts our entire lifetime.
It affects the quality of every other relationship we have. So the relationship we have with also ourselves limits (or expands) the results we are able to achieve in the world.
How strong is your relationship with yourself today? How well do you understand yourself and how well do you put that knowledge into practice? Would you like to improve the quality of every relationship you have and the results you achieve in the world? How much time do you spend each week deepening your connection with yourself, refilling your tank? Do you feel drawn to spend more time in exercise, meditation, the arts, or nature? Which would be a good place to start?
Adapted from Inner Leadership: tools for building inspiration in times of change.
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