I spent most of last week holed up in yoga leadership training.
It was glorious. Just what I needed in the midst of possibly the craziest week of the pandemic... and I hardly looked at social media. It also helped that our internet didn't come back until Wednesday night. Just because I didn't use social media much though didn't mean I didn't feel it's affects. The world felt a little bit like it was on fire last week.
During my week in training, we talked a lot about leadership. What it takes to be an effective leader, the different ways a leader can listen, why leadership matters. My teacher Baron said something early on that stuck with me.
"Consider you are already a leader, as you are leading at least one person, and that is yourself."
I'd never thought about this before, or perhaps I had and maybe it just landed in a new way. First and foremost, I lead myself, we lead ourselves. In a week focused on who the next leader of our country is, amidst all the turmoil and chaos and angst over one decision, over one person, I was reminded that ultimately, it does not matter who is running our country. If I'm not choosing to lead myself in a powerful way, none of it matters. Think about it. On Saturday, half the country celebrated. The other half felt cheated. We are more divided than ever and I would harness a bet it has way less to do with who is in charge of the country and how we are taking charge of our own lives. Are we choosing to come at conversations or posts thinking we know everything? are we being kind in our conversations? Are we choosing to listen to people, or to shout at them? (even when we think we're not shouting?)
Are we choosing sides?
Let me be clear, I'm not saying throw all caution to the wind, who cares, let's vote for whoever, it doesn't matter. It does. And. It's not the be all end all. The world will not be magically saved just because Biden is taking over office. Or because we have a woman VP. It's all steps in the right direction. ultimately though, the work begins within us. If we can't change ourselves, no one else will. Tim and I had an interesting conversation regarding a post I saw. It was a letter from George Bush Sr. to Bill Clinton, after he was elected to office in 1993. He took over for Bush after he'd had just one term. Bush was kind and graceful in his letter, wishing the best for his opponent, now to take over his job. I commented that THIS is what a true leader looks like. "Think about it though," Tim said. "That was 1993. Think about how much has changed."
"We as a society don't lose well. How would expect the president to do the same?"
As I pondered on this, I thought about when I was a kid, I learned about losing. I learned that not everyone got trophies and just because I didn't, the world didn't have to end. I cried a lot when I lost monopoly to my brother. How unfair it was. I thought the world had ended. I eventually learned how to take things in stride a little better. I heard nowadays every kid who plays a sport gets a trophy for participating. If everyone gets a trophy, how do kids learn gracious losing? In a world where everything is at our fingertips, from information on the internet, to literally getting packages delivered sometimes even 24 hours after we order them... how are we handling when things don't go our way or in the timeframe we hoped? I may have learned as a kid to take things graciously, however, I think I'm still learning those things. How do I respond when I only have 15 likes on a post? When I get the stats that only 2 people read this email? How do I respond when I have on person on a Zoom class? When my package is running late? When someone says something snarky to me? When someone disagrees with me, or I them? I would love to say I've handled every interaction exactly as I intended to, and I know that is just not the case.
If I can't lead myself through challenging situations in the best way I know possible, how can I expect anyone else to?
If we can't lead ourselves, if we can't look at our own lives, how can we expect our family, our friends... our president....to do the same? It all begins with us. I hear all the time, "You can't change other people, only yourself," and the longer I sit with that quote the more I see it's truth. The only hope for change is to start with myself. To look inside and confront the ways I'm not being as compassionate as I like. The people I'm not being a good listener with or for. The ways I've said inappropriate things or gossiped or wronged someone. None of those things are fun to look at. AND. If I want change, I've got to look at myself. If I want to lead, I've got to lead the person closest to me... Myself. Leading is no easy task. It takes humility and digging up things we'd rather not and learning how to have better conversations and be more gracious. It takes commitment to something bigger than my own little life down here. I believe now is the time for ALL of us to step up and be leaders. Maybe not of the country or even of other people... perhaps leading ourselves is the best place to begin. Questions to consider/think about/journal on this week: How would your life look different if you were to be the leader of your own life? What choices would you make or not make? How would you respond or not respond in certain situations? What would your interactions with others look like? What would you be doing that you are not doing now? You are the leader of your own life. What impact do you want to make?