What do you understand by 'personal growth'?
Cultivating a more spacious and intentional life
When the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali passed away, his biographer Thomas Hauser had this to say: “Too many people go to their grave with their music still inside them; Ali lived the gift of life to the fullest.”
Our contemporary lifestyle consumes us with endless activity from morning till night, leaving us with little time or energy to look behind the turbulent stream of busyness. We tend to become so distracted that we forget to create space for our own music.
When we assume that life is linear and incremental, and that we’re supposed to be rewarded every step of the way, we fall into the trap of being in constant chasing mode. While ambition may create a pragmatic framework to launch us into adulthood, it often morphs into a self-fulfilling prophecy that limits our growth in the long-run.
Hauser’s observation about Ali is a beautiful depiction of a common ailment in our fast-paced and status-oriented society. Every single human being has a unique gift - call it music, impetus, magic or purpose. However, accessing and harnessing one's gift doesn't happen without effort.
It takes awareness, courage, humility and dedication.
Are you focused on acquiring more followers or inspiring other leaders?
On Leading Change
In spite of all the publicity that the acronym V.U.C.A. (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) has received since the turn of the century, we haven’t really seen significant progress in how the new generation of leaders is groomed to excel in a V.U.C.A. environment.
Change management is a familiar term to many, but change management efforts fail all too often because they are designed to carry out mandates that come from the top. That’s really just the same thing as telling people to do what you want. The problem is that, while authority can compel action, it does little to inspire belief. It’s not enough to get people to do what you want, they also have to want what you want — or any change is bound to be short lived.
There is an increasing need for change leadership; and the difference is not about semantics. Becoming skilled at change management is often a matter of applying a set of tools, techniques and processes. Becoming skilled at change leadership is about setting a vision and developing the necessary competencies to achieve that vision.
Do you invite creativity into your life?
From Homo Universalis to Homo Integralis
We have a tendency in our culture to associate "creativity" with specific occupations such as graphic design, theater, music and film production. Lawyers, accountants, engineers and computer scientists have therefore become convinced that they are not creative. Should we just accept this kind of division at face value? Wouldn't it be worth redefining what it means to be creative?
The chief idea of the Renaissance was that individuals have the potential for immense learning covering various areas such as literature, art, mathematics and science. This is where we get the terms Polymath or Homo Universalis. Think Galileo. Think Da Vinci. Think Franklin.
Being a generalist was actually considered a positive trait then, but in the post-Renaissance world our society evolved to value specialization over general knowledge, and somehow this became synonymous with mastery.
The true essence of a polymath in modern times is not merely about accumulating skills and knowledge across different subjects, but cultivating the ability to draw on a wide-ranging variety of resources to solve specific problems. Given the increasing complexity around us, interdisciplinary approaches are key for bringing insight and innovation to nearly every field - computer science, education, telecommunications, retail, design, entertainment, journalism, energy, transportation, healthcare, cosmology and spirituality.
Hence the emerging advantage of Homo Integralis. Think Mandela. Think Jobs. Think Musk.
The point here is not that we should pursue as many different interests as possible or that we should all aspire to be serial entrepreneurs. However, the likelihood of having to look at things from various angles or even reinvent ourselves a few times over during the course of our lives is increasing exponentially, and it's harder to do so if our understanding of the world is too narrow.
An integralist may very well be the modern version of a generalist.
As we continue to produce and process more information than ever before, wear many hats and play a variety of roles, it is equally (if not more) important that we understand how to extract meaning from it.
Will you be ready to pivot your career when the time comes?
Defining One's Vocation
During his heartfelt and witty TEDx Talk in 2010, Nigel Marsh offered a provocative reflection: “if you don't design your life, someone else will design it for you”.
There is a lot of buzz these days about living ‘authentically’ and ‘being true to oneself’. But how many of us actually know how to put that into practice? How can we identify what truly makes us itch? How does our work bring forth our natural talents, honor our real passions and allow space to renew our skills? How do we cultivate the ability to pivot our careers in order to stay current with cultural transformation and technological advancement?
Never before have these questions been more gripping. Recent developments suggest that the idea that you study in your youth and then have a long-term career in one field - let alone one company - is gone. In fact, people are living longer lives while companies are dying younger.
The future of work across entire industries is now also in question, as artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies are rapidly entering a wide range of domains that require information processing and decision-making, such as healthcare, legal and financial services.
Meanwhile, people seem to be increasingly yearning for some sense of autonomy and meaning. Whether you’re part of a larger organization, an entrepreneur or freelancer, chances are that you may be asking yourself “what do I want?”, “what should I do?” or “how can I make an impact?”.
Alan Watts once suggested that the single most important principle of occupation is to ‘figure out some way in which you get paid for play’. What’s interesting to consider today is that you might also have the need (or desire) to redefine the game itself.
But the concept of ‘vocation’ is commonly misunderstood as some form of hidden treasure inside ourselves waiting to be discovered. When approached through this lens, it is easy to get pigeonholed and completely miss the path that's right in front of us.
We are multifaceted, multidimensional beings, designed to explore multiple possibilities that we can tap into and reconfigure as we grow. Hence vocation is something that we practice and develop, rather than simply a process of introspection. By taking this broader perspective, we come to terms with how the notion of ‘true self’ can easily distort or limit our quest. As a result, we free ourselves from searching for the ‘right’ answer and become more open to experimenting and learning, ultimately making the journey more vibrant and fulfilling.