But even better than learning to recover quickly is learning not to be knocked off-balance in the first place. Like a tree putting down deeper roots, if we deepen our relationship with ourselves, by increasing our self-awareness and connection with ourselves, then we become less likely to be blown over in a storm.
And when times are calm, a deeper more solid self-connection will enable us to spread our leadership ‘branches’ out wider, into larger challenges and roles.
There are four main ways that we can achieve this deeper self-connection.
The first three are exercise, creativity, and meditation:
“Exercise,” says John Ratey, psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, “is the single best thing you can do for your brain in terms of mood, memory, and learning. Even 10 minutes of activity changes your brain.”
Mind and body are one system. We hold snags and tensions from our minds in our bodies. So shifting the body is an effective way to shift and free the mind. As just one example, Richard Branson says he gets four more productive hours each day from a range of workouts that include swimming, rock climbing, running, weightlifting, and yoga.
In a changing world, the ability to innovate becomes a critical part of every leader’s toolset. Innovation is applied creativity, so developing your ‘creative muscle’ will strengthen your ability to innovate.
Engaging with the arts is a powerful way to experiment with new ways of seeing the world, new forms of solution. Choosing the right arts for you will also recharge your batteries, refuel your tank.
Steve Jobs, co-founder and CEO of Apple, was well known for practising Zen Buddhism. He said, “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.” Meditation connected him with that voice.
Science has shown that meditation and other forms of mindfulness also generate higher capacities to concentrate and to manage our emotions. And Gandhi used the power of meditation to bring down an entire empire, non-violently.
All three of these approaches can be combined with the fourth, which is:
- Spending time in Nature
Any form of contact with nature can be beneficial but visits to hills or large bodies of water can be especially beneficial. In Japan the benefits of short, leisurely visits to forests are well known and are called ‘forest bathing‘.
The relationship we have with ourselves is our most important relationship. It is the only one that lasts our entire lifetime. It affects the quality of every other relationship we have. So the relationship we have with ourselves limits or expands the results we can achieve in the world.
Using these four ways to put down deeper roots will increase your clarity, focus, productivity, enthusiasm, self-confidence and joy.
How strong is your relationship with yourself today? Would you like to improve that and improve the results you achieve in the world? Do you feel drawn to spending more time in exercise, creativity, meditation, or nature?
Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.
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