February 23, 2011
Posted by Joan V. Gallos
I spent a day earlier this week reading and providing feedback to a colleague on a book manuscript dealing with leadership and spirituality issues. In the academic world, that’s what professors do for one another. It’s always a plus when we learn something important from the collegial support.
The book basically asks readers to think about the inner growth needed to drive principled, high-impact leadership. I’m not doing justice to the complexity of the work because it triggered a number of profound questions that have stayed with me all week.
What are the leadership contributions that I hope to make over the course of my lifetime – the things that I want to accomplish so as to have made a real difference by the time destiny comes calling? How do my hopes fit my true leadership gifts? What do I need to do to stay focused and balanced as I steer through these uncharted waters?
These are not simple questions, and we can never answer them fully. But grappling with the larger life issues implicit in them gives us the best shot at designing and managing a career that we can be proud of and that is both successful and significant.
We live at a time that predisposes us to gloss over the need for this kind of deep reflection. There is growing research on the long-term decline in happiness in increasingly affluent and democratic societies where people are misled by a materialist culture to put money and possessions at the center of our lives. They equate success with big paychecks and ignore the growing evidence that those who focus their lives on tangible goods grow demonstrably more miserable over time than those who set out to make other, deeper contributions – and profit from the success of their energizing efforts.
If you have ever felt the golden handcuffs of a well-paying job that drained a little bit of your soul everyday – made going to work as exciting as pushing heavy rocks uphill – you know exactly what I am talking about.
Striving to make a difference feeds the soul, and nothing is more energizing. Successful business leaders confirm that inner growth matters.
So, what are the contributions you want to be remembered for? What are your gifts and talents – the things you do well and really enjoy? How can you fashion your life and work to stayed focused on all that?
Answer those questions, and you are well on the road to a career of success and significance.