I have one wish for you this year – that you have the magical breakthrough that you really want in order to create what you most desire for your life and your leadership in 2012.
Before the New Year I shared a WhiteSpace practice with you to support you in ending 2011 well and promised that I would give you something else to reflect on for the year ahead.
In this message is a really valuable first step if you want to make this year one that really supports you in growing beyond the limitations that get in the way of you leading a life you love and making the meaningful difference you feel called to make though your leadership.
The Power of Intention
It took me years to finally realise that the conscious intentions I was holding about anything in my life were the foundational key to me manifesting those changes and leading a more fulfilling life. I used to be so easily pulled off track by various life challenges or simply my own self-doubt, that I would conveniently forget to set myself a bold intention, unconsciously keeping myself safe from the risk of failure. Of course without a clear intention at the outset, I didn’t stand a chance.
What I began to learn was that when I set an intention that was stretching me, life would magically present the perfect opportunities to move beyond any limitations and fear that I was holding about that stretch. Understanding that alone, really helped me to face my struggles with optimism and now my intentions have become anchors that keep me centred and committed whilst the turbulence of life goes on around me. When the challenges come up (which they always do) however difficult they are, I see them as opportunities to grow. The process of moving beyond those challenges and experiencing the fulfillment of my intentions is one of ‘breakthrough’. I like this word because it connects me with the power of life-force within me. It reminds me of the birthing of a fledgling hatching from it’s egg. It’s a natural process of evolution and new life emerging, but it still requires the effort which comes from an authentic impulse to live and flourish. And of course it also fits with the metaphor of breaking through the glass ceiling, something which I’m passionate about for all of us.
Setting intentions at the beginning of the year has extra ‘juice’ too. And I’m not talking about new year’s resolutions, but about the fundamental commitment to our growth that a courageous leadership intention will require. The beginning of the year seems to carry with it the opportunity for change and for a new cycle to emerge.
So this message is intended to help you stop and reflect for a while before you get too far into the year so that you can consider what kind of year you’d really like to have. Is it more of the same, or is it time to STEP UP and act on the deeper desires that are stirring under the surface and address the frustrations, constrictions and concerns that have been present for some time and perhaps exacerbated by the state of the world right now?
Put it this way:
Do you feel it’s time to break though your own inner glass ceiling so that you can be more empowered and fulfilled by living a life you really love and making the meaningful difference you’re called to cause through your leadership this year?
(Keep reading, we’re nearly at the process…)
I’m not suggesting you’re not already doing this in some way. But whatever stage any of us are at in our own development, growth never stops. We’re always going to bump up against the next level of challenge when we’re growing – it’s part of the natural process of evolution. And if we don’t, we’re generally either stuck in comfort or in denial – a place which life has a way of popping us out of sooner or later, usually with a bump!
I like to refer to the ‘inner glass ceiling’ in this context because often we very unconsciously (and sometimes knowingly) blame the ‘external glass ceilings’ in our life for our experience of apparent limitation and unwittingly give away our power in the process. I’m not denying that we sometimes face real limitations in our lives but it’s how we relate to those limitations that counts – i.e. either with or without our power.
I’m somewhat shocked by the amount of people who said to me at New Year (a bit like Eeyore in Winnie the Poo!) “well let’s see what this year brings – hope it’s better than the last one”, as if our lives are some kind of lottery game that we have no influence over. Of course, we can’t control many events that occur but we do have so much more influence than we realise to cause our future and at the very least, we can choose how we respond to the challenges that ‘happen to us’ along the way – again, either with or without our power.
What ‘breakthrough’ looks like for you will be as unique as it is for every individual. However you see your leadership context (e.g. self, life, organisation, business, community, family etc) there’ll be something that is key for you to address in your life right now that is sapping your power. And, one thing I’ve noticed in my many years of facilitating and coaching women is that despite our sense of ‘personal’ experience, there are many common patterns in the collective field that we are not alone with. Core to this in my experience, is a strong sense of desire amongst most of us to find a place of authenticity in ourselves and how we show up as leaders, that is on the one hand more natural and rewarding for us as women but more importantly, much more caring and effective in bringing about the changes we long for. Our authenticity is key to our power and underpins our ability to breakthrough our own inner glass ceiling. (I’ll be bringing plenty more on this topic throughout the year).
So here’s the WhiteSpace process that I recommend you take time for soon.
Creating A Courageous Leadership Intention for 2012
Step 1 – Assess your clarity and mindset
Take some WhiteSpace to consider these 3 questions for a moment and assess to what degree you’re clearly aligned with a ‘Yes’ on a scale of one 0 – 10. (10 = 100% yes, 0 = not at all)
1) Do you have a clear sense of what you most deeply desire to create and contribute through your leadership this year and feel really inspired by it? (no it doesn’t need to be a fully fledged vision) Score:
2) Do you have a sense of both excitement and trepidation because you know that in order to manifest that intention you need to be out of your comfort zone, right at your ‘growing edge’ and fully committed to breaking through old limitations that are in the way? Score:
3) Do you feel uncertain about how you’re going to implement the changes you want and yet fully trust that you will find your way and get the support you need from life? (Yes, it is important to have a strong element of not knowing alongside what you already do know) Score:
Where you sit on these scales will give you a clue about how ‘successful’ and personally fulfilled you are likely to be this year and how much WhiteSpace you might need to consider these questions and put a ‘strategy’ into place for your own development.
(You’re not on your own here because I really want to help you with this and it’s the reason why this community exists. So please look out for more emails and support from me on this subject of breakthrough that I’m so passionate about!)
Step 2 – Reflect on your Courageous Leadership Intention for 2012
In the meantime, I’d like to invite you to take the first step of this strategy – to reflect on a Courageous Leadership Intention for 2012 which will require you to have a breakthrough of the limitations that you hold about your identity and capacities as a leader.
Here’s the checklist of essential elements that need to be included in that intention:
Enjoyment – it is something that will bring you joy, motivate you and enable you to lead more of the life you love!
Authenticity – It’s something that feels close to your heart that is inspired by and encourages you to stay grounded in your own authentic values and authentic voice and where success comes from being yourself and sharing your leadership message naturally and confidently. (after a little practice!)
Contribution – It’s something that gives you a sense of excitement and fulfillment because it has purpose for you and you can see the generative change and positive impact that you could have on and make for others (as well as yourself).
Collaboration – It’s something that naturally requires you to inspire and engage others in order to make that contribution.
Growth – It’s something that requires you to grow and that fills you with excitement but also induces some fear of stepping up and growing into a new more authentic ‘version’ of you! (that’s the stretch part!)
Vitality – It’s something that will move you towards more energy, health and vitality in your life rather than draining you or throwing you off balance. (N.B that doesn’t mean it won’t involve hard work or bursts of extra effort and energy).
Now take some WhiteSpace to sit with, reflect and journal on these questions about your Courageous Leadership Intention – take your time with it over a couple of days and look in all corners of your life for the answers, not just work:
1) When you consider your experience of leading in the past, where have you been most uplifted and joyful about your contribution and who have you most enjoyed serving? (And if you insist you’re not a leader, just interchange the word ‘leading’ with ‘life as a whole’ and we’ll have a conversation about it later!).
2) What did you really enjoy accomplishing last year (or before) that has empowered you in some way and given you a deeper sense of confidence and trust in yourself?
3) If you were to really listen to your heart’s desire for your most fulfilling life, who would it be calling you to be and what would it be calling you to do?
4) What do you most care about seeing change in your life in general and within the context of your work or leadership contribution?
5) Where do you get most upset and bothered by what you see happening around you and by the lack of leadership to make it right? (in your life, your business/organisation/community or in the world in general?)
6) If you were to assimilate your deepest passion, values and experience, what would be the most important message you would want to share with others as a leader?
7) If you truly believed you were on this planet for a unique purpose, what might that be and how might you already be expressing this in either small or big ways either in your career or in your life as a whole?
8) What do you really want to enable for or contribute to others? (N.B. you may even still need to enable this for yourself!)
9) Looking back over the last few years and particularly at the challenges you’ve experienced, where do you see your strengths and confidence present or emerging and where do you see the gaps in your strength and confidence as a leader?
Where does your life seem out of balance and why? What is draining you of energy or where are you not being nurtured in balance with the effort you are putting in?
Sit quietly, read one by one and let these questions in. You don’t need to ‘know’ the answers straight away and some of those questions may lead you to seeing where there are blocks. Don’t try to push past them. Whatever your experience, hold the intention to allow the insights and answers you need, to come to you in different ways. Don’t try forcing your intellect to come up with something – this needs to come from your heart!
Step 3) Form your Courageous Leadership Intention and share it with me!
Finally, review your notes and be open to what you feel most inspired and drawn to from what you’ve written. Then take some time to form an intention that describes who/what you most want to be, create, contribute or transform this year. Begin your intention like this:
My Courageous Leadership Intention for 2012 is to…….
Important tips to remember-
- Keep everything stated in the positive: (In other words, don’t describe what you don’t want!) - Don’t try and make it perfect. If it’s hard to articulate, simply do your best and let me know if you’re struggling with it.
- An intention is not a goal so it doesn’t need to be as specific or expressed as a vision with bells and whistles on it.
Make a note of this somewhere you will see it regularly and please do share it with me either by responding to the blog or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org – I’d love to hear what your ‘CLI’ is this year and to support you on the journey as best I can!