I was reading an article on LinkedIn Pulse this morning by Adam Grant, author of Give and Take (highly recommended reading). The article was about the importance of mentors in our lives. At the end of his article (you can read the full article here) there was this quote:
“I miss the light he added to the world, but I can see the glow from countless candles he lit.”
I think this highlights the potential that those of us in positions of leadership (and aren’t we all in one way or another?) really have to leaving a legacy that will continue even when we move on in life – whether that’s moving from one team to another, from one coaching client to another, or from one company to another, or even when we finally die.
In positive psychology there’s an activity that has been validated to increase our sense of self, boost more positivity into our mood, and provide a heightened sense of wellbeing. The activity is a bit morbid in a way as it asks you to think about the time of your death and what people would ideally say about you at your funeral.
While I don’t want you to think about your death, what I do encourage you to do today after finishing reading this post is to make a list of the ways you hope to influence the people you impact through your various personal and professional life roles.
Start with just one or two people you directly impact and ask yourself, what do you want for this person (not what you want from them)? What is it that you wish for them, hope for them, want for them that will help them to live a more happy, flourishing and meaningful life? Once you’re clear on that, (this is what I refer to as clarity of intention), you can then check in whether you’re actually doing anything to help that intention for this person(s) become a reality.
For some of the people you influence in your life, practicing Positive Disruptive Leadership™ will mean needing to create the necessary safe environment for you to comfortably disturb them into seeing opportunities and potential that they may not see for or in themselves. This means taking intentional, mindful actions that will help you help the people you impact in your leadership roles to flourish in their life.
Aristotle wrote “We are the sum of our actions” and I think taking a moment in the here and now, intentionally and mindfully to check in with the value you’re creating for the people you impact in your life roles is an activity well worth completing. Don’t just take it for granted that you’re making a positive impact. While I’m not suggesting you may not be, what I am suggesting is that what you focus your intention and motivation on grows stronger.
Paradoxically and positively this type of activity while focused on what value you can create for others, is by way of reciprocity, a pathway to a host of wellbeing benefits for yourself as well.
Leadership is a privilege, not merely a position. Leadership is a responsibility, not really a right. Leadership is a commitment, not just a set of competencies. And Leadership is a mindset, not necessarily a mandate.
With an acknowledgement that this might sound a little ‘soft’ and ‘flowery’, let me complete this post by having you seriously ask yourself, how many candles are you lighting each day that are spreading the light, warmth and value through your personal and professional leadership?