I’ve been struggling. I’m even struggling to describe what I’ve been struggling with. I feel disengaged and yet overwhelmed with the onslaught of life. Part of me wants to run away and another part of me yearns to dig in and go deeper. My heart tells me I’m on the right path and my head tells me I’m walking that path all wrong.
On the way downtown the other day, I asked myself this question: What do I need to do/have/experience in order to have the emotional margin to lead well? Turns out, this may be one of the most important questions I’ve ever asked myself.
You see, I’ve found myself in a place we all find ourselves from time to time. Or maybe more often than not. I’d found myself in “the routine.” Ever seen the move Groundhog Day? Yeah, where every day is the same and just keeps repeating itself over and over. My days seemed to be a spinning top of activity and no progress. By the end of the day I’d be worn out but wouldn’t feel like I’d gotten anything really important done.
Feeling like you’re spinning in place is exhausting and terrifying. I think most of us allow our minds to wander into thinking about how great things will be when…
- when the kids are older
- when I get that promotion
- when we finally launch that product
- when my spouse finally gets past this bad patch
Thinking that way ends up being sort of like eating candy to satisfy hunger. It tastes good at first but doesn’t actually solve the real issue. You just end up hungry again really fast and feeling sick from all that sugar. So I asked the question. In other words, rather than waiting until something external changes I started exploring what I needed in my life right now that would let me find joy and peace in the midst of my circumstances.
Asking this question can be a revealing and freeing experience. I’m finding great contentment in the self-discovery of the question. I’ve begun understanding things I only had an awareness of before. Things like Stephen Covey’s “first things first” principle. Or why every great leader in history has spent a great deal of time alone. Simply put – you can’t give what you don’t have.
This question has lead to applying new boundaries and disciplines to my life that have immediate effect and help me put some structure around the daily grind so it’s no longer a spinning top but an exciting dance.
As men, we face the danger of disengaging because of being overwhelmed. Don’t allow the people you lead, at home or at work, suffer because you haven’t answered the simple question – what do I need to have in my life so I can give people what they need to grow.
So…what DO you need?