Remember the old adage, “do as I say, not as I do?” For those of us who have ever struggled with perfectionism, proving and/or a need for approval from others, it can be easier to project a prescriptive formula for living your best life, than to allow others to see us for who we truly are: imperfect, flawed and failing forward (just like everyone else). Yet it is often the transparency of the journey itself, however flawed, that provides inspiration and encouragement to others as we continue to step out, fall down, stand up, and keep moving forward, a little wiser that we once were before.
While the world is filled with self-proclaimed ‘experts’ who are quick to tell us the five things we must do or the ten things that will result in certain failure, sometimes what we really need is a little honesty along the way — guidance from those mentors and role models who are as willing to acknowledge their shortcomings and failures as much as the lessons and hard-(l)earned wisdom gained along the way. Sometimes what we need is a little honesty with ourselves, too, remembering that failure is an inevitable part of the journey towards personal success — not something to be shamefully buried behind the false mask of perfection, but acknowledged and perhaps even invited as a present opportunity for growth and future invitation to serve others in a deeper, more authentic way.
I’m curious to know…
Do you carefully protect your image as a way of presenting a perfect self to the world or do you allow others to see your flaws and imperfections? How might your own struggles, setbacks, and comebacks serve as inspiration and encouragement to others? When it comes to your own mentors and role models, do you (or they) place them(selves) on the pedestal of perfection, or do they inspire and encourage from a place of honest acknowledgement of both their strengths and struggles? As you move towards a place of deeper alignment with your authentic self, how do you choose to balance the need for both transparency and privacy in paving a path forward for others?
I believe in the power of hope.
Just as purpose provides a sense of meaning and direction in our lives, hope, like faith, enables possibility and the strength to endure, without which we cannot live. An essential ingredient in resiliency, to be hopeful is to not only believe in our capacity to overcome, but to open ourselves to new possibilities in the future. Hope expectantly empowers, engages, emboldens and encourages. A gift to ourselves and others, hope helps pave the path to our collective potential.
But where do we find hope? How can we cultivate it within ourselves? How can we share it with others?
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all. -Emily Dickinson
Recognizing the power of stories to inspire, uplift, engage and empower, Gary Doi, a retired school superintendent in British Columbia, recently brought together 42 VIPs (very interesting people) from different parts to the world to create a stimulating anthology of startlingly honest stories focused on the eternal question: What gives you hope?
“The stories are as varied and compelling as life itself,” said Doi. “They stir the imagination, ignite your courage and invite reflection. They inspire hope. In today’s world, that’s a resource in short supply. Yet, we can’t live life without it.”
Doi believes that hope creates resilience which in turn provides the strength to face life’s many challenges. Examples from the book include a California mother who shares her heartfelt story about raising an autistic child and how that experience brought fulfillment, love and gratitude. A teacher in Dubai describes how her bucket-list adventures opened up fascinating opportunities to learn and discover. A retirement coach from the United Kingdom explores a common question facing retirees: What will you do with the rest of your life? And, a university professor writes about the heroic efforts of a sixteen-year-old student in Tokyo who mobilizes community members to raise funds for a small fishing village affected by the Tohoku Earthquake disaster.
A global book launch is scheduled for November 25 – December 13, 2013 with various events and activities to draw attention to the book and its cause. All net proceeds from book sales will be donated to provide resources for the Asturias Academy Library in Xela, Guatemala, a private, non-profit pre K-12 school serving vulnerable students in the community.
Books are available as a hard copy or ebook at Amazon.com (ca/uk).
A second book in the series (Inspiring Hope: One Image at a Time) is planned for next year. It will feature inspirational photographs, artwork and stories from around the world.
Note: For those who are regular followers of this blog, I am pleased and honored to share that two of my posts, George the Cabbie and Clearing Out the Weeds (In the Garden of Our Life) were selected for inclusion in this wonderful book on hope. I hope you’ll consider spreading a dollop of hope by purchasing your own copy today!
For the last few years (and these last few weeks in particular), my son has been waiting in earnest to go to Scarowinds – the Halloween-themed fright night at our local amusement park. Until this year, he has neither been old enough to participate in the fright zones (maturity defined by the magic age of 13), nor big enough to ride all of the rides.
Though he has been frustrated by the wait; though he watched as his older and bigger friends attended this time last year, to his credit, he never allowed circumstances and restrictions to limit his thinking, dreaming and/or planning for the BIG DAY.
The planning came in many forms. As a parent, I am always amazed by how an otherwise often forgetful child can nevertheless manage to memorize every last detail of his latest focus – in this case, the Scarowinds theme park. Now 13 and with a firm offer in hand from his mother to take him and his best friend to this treasured destination, he spent the weeks leading up to the big day studying every last detail of this year’s theme park.
Lost in the wonderful world of imagination and make-believe, he practiced creating some of the same gory make-up effects as the ‘scare-actors’ with various supplies around the house. Already a talented computer programmer, he spent much of his free time designing and building 3D computer animated roller coasters, anticipating the thrill and adrenalin rush of the rides he would soon ride. Topping the list were the Intimidator, Night Hawk and Vortex, and as the days drew closer, he studied weather maps, park maps and time schedules. It was all he could talk about…all he could think about.
Waiting with earnest expectation, the BIG DAY finally came. Yesterday in fact. The planning, the dreaming, the imagining, were coming into focus. As the rain poured throughout the day, we held our breaths, wondering…praying that the thunderous rain clouds would not thwart our carefully laid out plans. In the final hour, prayers and wishes were answered as the skies cleared, the sun shone, and we headed off on our adventure…
It is now 10:00 a.m., Saturday morning. The boys still sleeping, I smile as I reflect back on last evening. There were thrill, chills, and screaming. There were endless smiles and laughter. A beloved son, a favorite friend, a good-natured mom, and a good time had by all.
I wonder to myself…after months of anticipation, did the evening live up to and/or exceed his expectations? Did his planning and preparation enable him to more fully appreciate and enjoy the moment? Was it worth the wait? Absolutely!
What does it mean to lead from within?
Just ask acclaimed business and life coach, Lolly Daskal.
Lolly would tell you that when you lead from within, “you step inward to seek the life you yearned for–a life of commitment and fulfillment of your heart’s desires. By listening to your inner self and following your compass within, you will find a life that is aligned with your talents, truth and values.”
Leading from within is what many of us are learning, what we are living, and what we talk about every Tuesday evening on Twitter. It is Lolly’s brainchild, launched online in January, and already it has directly touched hundreds of lives and impacted thousands more.
I am no exception.
For the last six months, I have had the privilege of connecting with countless others, learning and sharing right along side of me. We connect, we engage, we share, and we learn. Many of those tuned in Tuesday nights are in the leadership/coaching/training business. Not just people toying with these ideas, but some of the strongest leaders in their industry. Just visit the bestseller section on leadership at your local Barnes and Noble and you will recognize many of the authors’ names as fellow leadfromwithin’ers. Others of us are leaders and learners in other professions, in our civic lives, and in our own families. All of us are drawn to this Tweet chat week after week, but more importantly, we are drawn to each other.
On my own journey within, I have been tested at every step along the way – my faith, my resolve, my purpose, my commitment, my truth, my values. I have also connected with others. Many others. People just like me, who have either walked in similar shoes before me, walked along side of me, or followed in my footsteps. People from my past and present have stepped up, offering a word of encouragement, the comfort of a shoulder, or illumination on the path before me.
In recent months, many of these people have been those I’ve connected with via Leadfromwithin. I have learned and I have grown, seeds of wisdom planted that have since sprouted and blossomed in my personal, professional and civic life. Among those in this community who have touched my life and planted a seed are Dave Pancost, writer of life wisdom extraordinaire and all-around good guy; Jesse Lyn Stoner, a gracious and humble leader whose legendary work on the subject of vision has helped me clarify my own; Becky Robinson, fellow mother, friend, social media maverick and blogger to no particular end but to learn and share with others; Mr. cool culture, Chris Edmonds, my enthusiastic friend and cheerleader, without whose guidance I might have struggled for months on end to find clarity and direction in my own life; and to Lolly herself, a kindred spirit and inspiring force of nature, whose commitment to her own vision enabled me to connect with these other gems. There are others, too; those who have reached out and shared their own wisdom in ways that have influenced my own. That, after all, is the great gift of Leadfromwithin. We humbly acknowledge, week after week, wisdom we have to share and all that we still have to learn.
To me, leading from within is about living and leading from our heart place…our heart space. It is about transparency, authenticity, integrity, and honor. It is about connecting with others, just as we seek to reconnect with ourselves, recognizing that we each have the beautiful, unique and amazing gift of ourselves to share with the world.
To Lolly, Chris, Becky, Jesse and Dave; to @John_Paul, @Helen_Antholis and @worksmarta; to @lynnfishman, @giselle2323, @growinggold, @koomba303, @My_webevent, @womanonajourney, @waynemcevilly, @smaxbrown, @Josepf @EdwardColozzi, and @Cyburh; to @PatRobeck1ofHis, @StrategicMonk, @MagneticSilvia, @knowledgebishop, @Earthliz, and those countless others from whom I learn every Tuesday, THANK YOU.
Thank you for sharing your hearts and the wisdom of your experience. Thank you for the connection, your inspiration, and for seeds planted. As I’ve reconnected to my heart place, you have collectively been the catalyst that has enabled me to not only live from within, but to lead from within. It is indeed a great privilege to share my Tuesdays with all of you.
Note: You can find Lolly at www.lollydaskal.com. You can join the conversation every Tuesday at 8 p.m. (est) on Twitter at #leadfromwithin.