Nearly a decade ago, with global affairs in turmoil and the digital revolution disrupting every industry, I wrote these words in my book, “Winning from Within”:
“In turbulent times, when the pace of the change makes your head spin, business leaders and public servants alike want a system that helps them stay balanced as they face unprecedented complexity and uncertainly.”
That stomach-churning turbulence I recall from back then seems almost quaint as our 2020 world roils with COVID19, economic turmoil and natural disasters amid stark political polarization and a reckoning with systemic racism. Our world is on fire — in some places literally burning down in front of our eyes.
As leaders, we have honed our tools for interacting with the external world. We can break down complicated situations. We can problem solve. We can measure quarterly results. We can generate solutions. This is your tool box, and these tactics and techniques have probably served you well.
Yet when we fail, when we feel unable to cope, when scale and scope overwhelm us, we are often mystified. I’ve made it this far! What tool could I possibly be missing?
The tool isn’t in the tool box. It’s within you.
To master our external tools, we need to get to a mental and emotional place of perspective, calm and self-regulation. What makes the difference in successful leadership is the inner lives and traits that power those tools.
The horrendous confluence of events in the world around us has taxed our capacity to cope as never before. It calls on us to draw now from the world inside of us — to identify and harness our inner strengths, our core, so we can bring that power to bear as leaders in our businesses, our communities and even our homes.
Over the next several weeks in this column, I will revisit this inner realm, this center of wellbeing, and tell you how we can integrate our external world of action with our internal world of reflection.
My goal is to help you map your inner world and develop a method for sorting yourself out, to help you understand yourself and the emotional and mental traps that undermine your decision-making and your leadership.
By identifying and exploring your inner resources you can build the power of your center of wellbeing to close the performance gap between your external skills and your internal capacity to execute them.
By respecting the power of our inner experience and how it influences every choice we make, you can lead with vision and foster the sustainable change our world desperately needs.
If you know yourself from the inside out, you can triumph over 2020.
Next week: Why elevating some parts of who we are and diminishing other parts to create an external image keeps us from fulfilling our full potential.