“To every man there comes in his lifetime that special moment when he is figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered a chance to do a very special thing, unique to him, and fitted to his talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds him unprepared or unqualified for the work which would be his finest hour.” -Winston Churchill
Is it just me, or do we find ourselves in a time where our awareness of the present moment (knowing who I am, where I am, and what is going on around me) is at an all-time low? Is it a plugged vs. unplugged thing, the pace of the world, the new work life integration paradigm, or do we just not care anymore? Or maybe we actually are present and somewhat engaged in whatever is happening in front of us, yet unprepared for the moment as a result of our own state of being or sense of self. Either way, I am a big believer that leadership and life happens in the moment and our readiness (or not) for those moments could be the difference between making a difference in someone’s life vs. the recognition at some later time of what could have been.
We spend an extraordinary amount of time and energy thinking about leadership as something we do to and for someone else. Our conversations trend toward vision, influence, inspiration, and ultimately, making a difference. And while I believe wholeheartedly in leaders as servants, there is something to be said about our preparedness to serve in what Churchill describes as our “finest hour.” Being prepared for our finest hour requires us to be mentally, physically, and emotionally ready in the face of the countless leadership opportunities we get on a daily basis.
Preparedness can be attributed to:
Clarity of Purpose: In their book, Mindfulness, Acceptance, and Positive Psychology – the seven foundations of well-being, authors Todd Kashdan and Joseph Ciarrochi talk about purpose as, “the predominant theme of our identity; a central, self-organizing life goal that allows people to be more resilient to obstacles, stress, and strain; and making it easier to confront long-lasting, difficult challenges knowing that there is a larger mission (purpose) in the background.”
Clarity of Personal Core Values: Core values are our deepest held beliefs about what is right and good. They are the cherished ideals that are central to our sense of self. Living in alignment with them activates our self-actualized state, the realization of our full potential, and it is from here that we can, in turn, help those around us actualize their own extraordinary potential.
Readiness and Resilience: Outcomes of readiness and resilience include a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and seeing failure as a form of helpful feedback. Kashdan and Ciarrochi contend that resilience can “propel one in the direction of living a more meaningful life” which is central to our ability to serve.
Well-Being: Well-being is described as having meaning and purpose in life and love and connectedness with others. It is associated with feelings of happiness and satisfaction, and choices aimed at accomplishment and fulfillment. In knowing that emotions are contagious, a leader’s state of well-being is directly related to their impact on those around them both in the moment and over time.
Positivity: Defined consistently as well-being, contentment, and satisfaction (in/with the past), hope and optimism (for the future), and flow and happiness (in the present), positivity is one of my personal favorites – keys to the kingdom, if you will, for work and life.
Balance: Our ability to keep a healthy balance between business and family, activity and reflection, work and leisure – the tendency to be self-renewing, and handle the stress of life without losing the self. And “self” is central to everything we have referenced above.
In Mindfulness, Acceptance, and Positive Psychology, Kashdan and Ciarrochi elevate the conversation by posing the question “Can we create a world where the best side of humanity finds expression?” They go on to answer their own question by saying, “Yes – with a focus on human strengths and human flourishing.” Clarity of purpose and values, readiness and resilience, well-being, positivity, and balance all underpin human strengths and human flourishing, which are essential to how we show up in leadership and life; most specifically in our finest hour.