By Seth Streeter MS, CFP®, CEA®, CDFA™
Founder and CEO
“In the heart of man there lies a question that holds the key to true success for himself and the greater all. It is a leader’s great privilege, joy and lament to know what the right question is.” — Anonymous
As a lifetime learner of leadership, I constantly am searching for new strategies to optimize my reach and effectiveness as a leader. In this pursuit, I recently met with 20-year veteran executive leadership coach Marian Baker for insights about what it really takes to be an inspired leader and create healthy success: better lives, better businesses and a better world.
We discussed our firsthand experiences of working with chief executives who were outwardly successful by traditional metrics and yet, had hit a phase of wondering, “Is this all there is?” We agreed that the first place to look is inside the unique heart and mind of each leader — to optimize their inner navigation system.
Baker’s “Inspired Leadership” approach represents a new integrative business model blending. It blends inner peace and outer performance, uses both sides of the brain and mobilizes your greater mission to fulfill your purpose while realizing practice profit targets.
POP QUIZ: What score (0-10) would you give yourself for (a) waking up inspired, (b) effectively creating the affect you want and (c) feeling in love with your life?
What did you think of your scores? Your inner voice may be inviting you to re-examine how you are defining success and achieving happiness. Feelings often get ignored, yet resurface later when a crisis within the company, yourself or your relationships arises. The fortunate ones are wise enough to use these wake-up calls as catalysts for positive change.
Here are a few secrets that can help you begin your new story of inspired leadership and real success.
#1 Your blank canvas
Success is slippery. We may wake up one day and wonder how we achieved success yet aren’t as happy as we thought we would be. To let your life become a gift to the world, start with respecting and understanding your true self. An inspired leader does not get bogged down in the secretly sabotaging side of responsibility (especially with inherited and out-of-date success formulas). Rather, they gain power in response-agility, always evolving toward a higher self, whether circumstances appear favorable or not.
Reclaim your real success by taking inventory of how your story has been framed over time:
- Contemplate how your understanding of success has accumulated over time. Fully acknowledge what you’ve inherited from family or childhood, education, friends, partners, workplaces, peer pressure, neighborhoods, cultural norms, media conditioning, consultants and ongoing self-talk.
- Imagine this picture of success as a painting with many layers of paint and images. You want to strip away each layer in this exercise to get down to your blank canvas. You’ll be surprised to discover limitations you didn’t realize were hiding underneath some of those pretty colors. As you dismantle these unexamined assumptions, your own consciously chosen definition of success will have a chance to emerge.
#2 Poverty of inspiration
Underneath a lot of noise lies a “secret” crisis and opportunity. Amid marvelous advances in technology and material abundance, we have a poverty of inspiration. We recharge our phones more than plug into inner wisdom and greater potential. We don’t prioritize connecting to our true source of inner power.
Lack of inspiration is expensive. It’s a threat to our personal, business and global socioeconomic well-being. Consider the ripple-effect of those leaders who’ve lost their energetic mojo. Gallup estimates uninspired and disengaged employees cost the U.S. economy more than USD$450 billion each year.
Invest in developing your own inspiration first, like the oxygen mask on the airplane. Tending to your inner operating system is not selfish. It’s actually your most important job.
“Know thyself is not a personal indulgence. It is a global imperative.” — Paul Quinn
Let’s be honest about how you identify with the secret committee inside your busy brain. The good news is those voices (complaining, advising, debating, etc.) are not who you truly are.
From an inspired leadership approach, you get to discover your inner board of directors and create new strategies for who’s really running the show. The depth of this work goes beyond just positive attitude or trying to get your inner critic to shut up. Ultimately, you can create inner harmony and outer behaviors so that you operate at higher levels of mastery, joy and effectiveness.
Finding and keeping our inspired self in that inner seat of power may in fact be our most important role as a leader. When you learn new ways to access your inspired potential, there is an axial shift in with whom or what you identify with. Rather than the default of “What do I want to accomplish?” starting with “What energy am I coming from?” becomes a game-changing shift to fuel the greatest potential in you, your business and the lives you touch.
Change is happening at a faster and faster pace. And so are new challenges and opportunities that you, as a leader, will need to navigate. Are you inspired and equipped? Imagine trying to succeed with outdated maps rather than a constantly upgrading inner GPS that you know how to use well.
These three secrets are just a glimpse into the eye-opening insights and real success breakthroughs available to today’s mindful leaders. If you are willing to break free from past patterns and tap into the wisdom within, you may be opening up to the greatest ROI of your life.
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” — Howard Thurman
“This article was originally published in “Ignite,” the flagship member publication of YPO, the premier leadership organization of chief executives in the world. YPO members harness the knowledge, influence and trust of the world’s most influential and innovative business leaders to inspire business, personal, family and community impact.”