Every once in a while, I meet a leader, who is under tons of pressure, swamped with projects, and handling endless strategic and operational challenges, and yet is not burning out in the process. Most people in situations of this nature would collapse under the strain of it all, and yet these individuals are doing just fine.
Initially, I thought they must have a very high threshold for chaos. Some would even say they thrive on it. But I don’t think this is the case anymore because having done this work for decades and having worked with these individuals over time and through multiple troughs of chaos plus a few Grand Canyons of chaos, I have discovered a small but important insight.
These unique leaders are curious. Every day they are interested in seeing what happens next. They come to work with an open mind and are very excited to see how the day will unfold.
And along with their curiosity, there is an immense desire to keep learning. At the end of a day of meetings and consultations, these unique leaders want to go out for dinner and debrief the day. It is common for them to share with me about the “lessons learned” from the day and how they will apply them in the morning. It is their curiosity in combination with this inner drive to keep learning that gives them the capacity to handle the pressures, the burdens and the many expectations of the senior position.
One other interesting fact about these leaders is that their curiosity and desire to keep learning is not limited to work. After the debriefing about the day, it is common for them to share with me about a home project that they are immersed in which gives them great joy. I have listened to people share about family genealogy, a new project in their wood working shop, or the rebuilding of an engine on an antique car. These hobbies and projects in combination with this special mindset allows them to stay balanced and focused in the midst of it all.
This week, ask yourself, what am I curious about these days? Where am I learning the most at work and at home? Then, give yourself permission to explore these new ideas, new perspectives and new projects. It is time for us to have interesting things in our life that feed us fresh insights, energy and perspectives. It will keep us young in mind, body and spirit in spite of all the challenges in the big world.