So here is my question for you today: What makes you happy? Whole? Healthy? Not satisfied. Not less busy. But truly happy, if not filled with joy.
There is an assumption by many that we have to find happiness. I, on the other hand, believe that we already have it. After years and years of visiting with many different people, I have come to the conclusion that most, if not all of us, have personal clarity, which is the foundation for happiness, about many different issues. This clarity is greater than being busy. The key is to focus on and not to loose touch with this level of inner clarity.
Sure, there will be challenges. There will be difficulties. There will be complexity. There also can be great moments of depth, great moments of selflessness, even great moments of joy, love and health.
Currently, too many of us are living a fragmented life at a furious pace. Though we do not want to admit it, many of us each day are rapidly moving from meeting to meeting, cognitively moving from problem to problem, continually coping with greater degrees of ambiguity and unlimited variables, and constantly giving habitual answers with little thought or consideration.
The first step in this journey to personal clarity is to live an active and healthy lifestyle, and to have a healthy contemplative life. As the Buddha pointed out, “All that we are is the result of what we have thought.” Now is the time to sit back and reflect. Now is the time to rethink how we are living and working.
At the Fall 2012 From Vision to Action Executive Roundtable, I reviewed the following key ideas to living a healthy active life that I have learned from others in leadership positions and my own journey:
- know your personal core values, and only work for organizations that align with your personal values.
- your sacrifices should reflect your priorities; therefore know your priorities.
- allocate your resources, i.e. personal time, money, energy and talent, to the things and people that in your life connect you to a greater sense of purpose and meaning.
- proactively seek out mentors who can help you maintain perspective.
With the above in mind, it is time for each of us to choose a life of collaboration over control. All of us are just one person, and every moment we can choose to do something or not choose to do something from a place of control or collaboration. If we begin from the premise that our thoughts and our actions mean something, and that we can impact others around us in a significant way, then we can change the world around us. The first step is to choose to do something from a place of collaboration and kindness instead of control. When we do this, we cast our vote about what is most important by our actions and our thoughts. A vote for collaboration generates possibilities rather than contradictions.
Yet, some will not feel like they can do this. Their work place does not feel safe or trusting. Here are two lessons I have learned about this challenge. First, don’t take things personally. As Ron Heifitz explained in the article “The Leader of the Future” by William C. Taylor, Fast Company magazine - June 1999: “Remember: It's not you they're after. It may look like a personal attack, it may sound like a personal attack -- but it's the issues that you represent that they're after. Distinguishing role from self helps you maintain a diagnostic mind-set during trying times.”
Next, as he continues in the same article, “There's a second point: Because we get so swept up in our professional roles, it's hard to distinguish role from self on our own. That's why we need partners who can help us stay analytical. And we need two different kinds of partners. We need allies inside the organization -- people who share our agenda. And we need confidants inside or outside the organization -- people who can keep us from getting lost in our role.” To find and create personal clarity, we must build relationships with people who can become our allies and confidants . Remember: Allies are people inside the organization who share our agenda and confidants are people who keep us from getting stuck in our role.
This week, remember to build a healthy inner and outer life. The best place to start is to answer this simple question: What is the one thing you are not doing now that if you did on a regular basis would change your life for the better? Once you figure this out, you will be on the right pathway to discovering or rediscovering personal clarity.