The foundation of a Sustainable Leadership plan begins with your reflection and the integration of your values, purpose and strengths. Often women are their own worst enemies in not claiming their strengths or living into their potential. We often confuse claiming our strengths with ego, bragging, having a “big head”, or being intimidating, listening to those internal voices that create havoc and confusion when we want to claim our strengths and live big.
Marcus Buckingham has written a new book called Find Your Strongest Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently Thomas Nelson, Inc. , 2009. I found it to be both disturbing and hopeful at the same time. He states that over the last decade women have become less happy with their lives and as women get older, they get sadder. He goes on to say that “over the last forty years or so, life has not become more fulfilling for women: it has, in every way we can measure, become more draining instead….. [now that they] have the liberty to choose whichever life they’d like, they are struggling in their pursuit of a happy life.”
Buckingham points out that most women have – and want – a genuine choice about how to spend their waking hours. The challenge with choice, he says, is actually making one. He addresses the fact that women need to learn the “skill of making choices without fear, guilt, and regret. You have to learn how to use your choice-making to strengthen you.”
Once we know our strengths from taking the Strengths Assessment he urges us to “learn to quiet your mind and receive the emotional signals life is sending you.” We need to pay attention to the moments when we feel strong, successful, in flow, in control, energized, invigorated, happy and joyful. He cautions us that if we do not make the most of our strengths we will “start to lose sense of who you really are and what you are capable of… Neglect is a strength-killer”.
Buckingham says that we must move toward strength with a deliberate plan, learning to say “yes” to the “strong moments” in each part of our lives and seeking alignment with the people who help us create these moments. If each aspect of our lives contains “strong moments”, we can keep the light in that part of our life alive.
When we operates from – and leverage – our strengths (Marcus’ “strong moments”), we function at our personal best. This holds the greatest possibility of living and working in flow, which often leads to greater satisfaction and happiness in all aspects of life. Each of us needs to have faith that we have been given just the right strengths to be all that we dream of being. We need to claim these strengths and gifts, aloud. It is our responsibility to make the most of the role we were born to play and to live our strongest possible life.
As you create your Sustainable Leadership plan and add to your tool box, I invite you to share your thoughts, tips and ideas.