This week I thought I would share with you some (non-religious) thoughts on Easter as a metaphor for successful leaders. Millions of Christians worldwide celebrate Easter Sunday as the day of Jesus Christ’s resurrection as written in the New Testament. According to the Gospel of John, a couple of days after Jesus death and burial, Mary Magdalene visited his tomb, found it empty and an angel told her that Jesus had risen.
Although Christians worldwide have celebrated Easter for centuries, the origins of the Easter holiday’s traditions and activities can be traced back to pagan celebrations. The name Easter is commonly believed to come from Eostara, the goddess of rebirth. In early times the Feast of Eostara celebrated earth’s resurrection and rebirth.
The idea of death and resurrection is a very important concept for leaders to reflect upon. The persona (identity) that you have developed as a manager or leader is what has helped you get to where you are today. However, it is doubtful that this persona is who you actually need to be to achieve your fullest potential.
As such, successful people are those willing to remain open to
- criticism and feedback,
- to understand that they are far from perfect, in fact, they are a work in progress, and
- that in order to move forward in life, they need to let pieces of their existing persona ‘die’ and to ‘resurrect’ other parts of their persona to better support their desired outcomes.
To understand what your persona actually is, it’s a combination of your existing knowledge, skills, beliefs, attitudes, ingrained patterns of thought, personal values and identity. The most powerful of these is your identity, how you describe yourself to yourself, in fact, identity is anything you put after the words, “I am…”.
Your identity defines the limits within which you operate your life. For example, if you were to find yourself saying, “I am a terrible public speaker”, then you are not just acknowledging a ‘what is’, you are also creating a ‘what will be’ through your words. While this part of your persona lives on, you will never have the option to be anything but a terrible public speaker. The good news is that you have the power to change this, and later in this article I will give you specific tools to do so.
Self-awareness is a state whereby a person becomes more consciously aware of their behaviours, feelings and patterns of thought. In fact, the three are inextricably linked as discovered by US Psychologist Albert Ellis in 1959 when developing the foundation of most modern cognitive behavioural therapy. Behaviours are triggered by our emotions (the way we feel) and these feelings are simply a result of how we think about (or give meaning to) our circumstances and the events that are happening in our world. A high level of self-awareness allows a person move from unconscious behaviour (reacting without thinking) to conscious behaviour (responding) and also to be able change their patterns of behaviour by creating new patterns of thinking.
So, how can you use these principles to become more successful?
- Define and document clear outcomes including long term objectives, goals and milestones in each area of your life.
- Develop a detailed plan of the action steps to achieve your goals.
- Upgrade your persona. Decide what you need to be MORE of in order to follow the plan. Eg. Consistent – working to a set plan every week, documenting my progress.
- Identify and invest in relevant training, coaching or educational resources to develop the skills, habits and new patterns of thinking to support you in achieving the goals.
- Understand the power of your words to shape your reality. Speak with power and purpose. If you find yourself voicing or thinking a disempowering thought, add on the words, “up until now!” to keep your mind open to the possibility of moving beyond your current situation. Stop using powerless words like should, try, can’t, have to and got to and instead start using powerful action oriented words like I will, I choose to and I get to.
- Be consistent and persistent in focusing on your outcomes and taking action in moving towards your destination.
What you find as you follow these steps is you will not only achieve your goals but experience personal growth and fulfilment beyond your probable expectations. Achieving the goal is not the real win here, it’s all about who you become in the journey.
Lastly, always make a special effort to celebrate achieving your goals. Reward yourself for your efforts and give yourself the energy boost to set new goals and continue your journey of self discovery.
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