In a world of constant change, events can sometimes knock us off balance. When they do, Inner Leadership provides a range of tools that enable us to quickly regain that balance, by centring and grounding ourselves. This is the first step to becoming antifragile.
But even better than learning to recover quickly is learning not to be knocked off-balance in the first place. We can do this by increasing our level of self-awareness and connection with ourselves.
Like a tree putting down deeper roots, the deeper we build our relationship with ourselves the less likely we are to be blown over in a storm. And then, when times are calm, deeper self-connection enables us to spread our influence out into wider challenges and roles, like a tree spreading its branches wider.
The relationship we have with ourselves is the most important relationship we have. It’s the only one that lasts our entire lifetime and it affects the quality of every other relationship. So improving the quality of our relationship with ourselves directly improves the results we can achieve in the world.
There are four main ways we can achieve this:
“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 is becoming more important for everyone. Innovation is applied creativity, so developing our ‘creative muscles’ will strengthen our ability to innovate.
Engaging with the arts is a powerful way to experiment with new ways of seeing the world, new types of solution. Choosing the right creative form for you will also recharge your batteries at the same time.
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.
Since then, science has shown that meditation and other forms of mindfulness also increase our ability to concentrate and to manage our emotions. Again, as just one example, Gandhi used meditation to bring down an entire empire non-violently.
All three of these approaches can then be combined with the fourth approach, 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. The benefits of ‘forest bathing‘ are also widely known in Japan. There’s no one way of doing this. The key is to notice what you feel drawn to and go with that.
Using any or all of these four approaches will increase your clarity, focus, productivity, enthusiasm, confidence, and joy. They will improve your relationship with yourself and that will improve your relationship with everybody else. And that will bring you another step along the journey to becoming antifragile.
How strong is the relationship you have with yourself today? What about your relationships with other people? Would you like to improve these relationships and/or the results you achieve in the world? Do you intuitively feel you need more exercise, creativity, or meditation, or to spend more time in nature?
Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.
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(And remember: you don’t learn to swim by reading about swimming, you also have to practice.)