Charlotte [Shelton] and I have the great privilege of interviewing wonderfully accomplished business people every week on our Good Business radio program … All of our remarkable guests have shown us ways to lead with integrity, grace and clarity, regardless of our titles.
One of the questions Charlotte and I always ask our radio guests is “What is your best advice for how each of our listeners can create a more meaningful life?” Without exception, the answers revolve around the fact that we are all responsible and accountable for the choices we make. Our guests may not always use those exact words, but inevitably their messages hit at the heart of what each of us controls—ourselves. …
Create a Meaningful Life
The way we choose to think, feel and act directly comes from one of two places—our egos or our higher self. If ego or personality is at the root of our thinking, feeling and acting, our decisions/choices may be based on lack, survival or fear. None of these would come from our higher self. Rather, our higher self shows up as possibility thinking, gratitude and inquisitiveness.
When we listen to our higher self, choices, decisions, thoughts, feelings and actions take on a whole new realm of possibility. Our perceptions are more objective, our thoughts are more compassionate, our feelings are more loving and our actions are in integrity. …
Martin Luther King Jr. wrote “If you are called to be a street sweeper, sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, “Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
Dr. King's quote is one that is steeped in choice, intention and right action and that power is ever-present with each breath we take. Isn't choice something we would all say yes to each and every moment? Of course, and yet we often unconsciously say no to choice because we rely on that automatic pilot—our habits, our ego-self—that we have relied on for many years.
We don't even think about it. Many of us manage hourly, daily, weekly and yearly with our habits and ego guiding our thoughts, feelings and actions. To be unconscious to our own light and power could be due to many things: our lack of awareness of who we really are, our lack of discipline, our lack of a plan, our willingness to play small.
We don't have to hold a management or executive title to lead and show up in ways that move [an] organization forward toward its mission and vision. We just need to clearly remember and recognize who we are at the core of our being and act from that place of love and strength.
1. Identify your intention.
One of our Good Business guests, Maria Nemeth, author of Mastering Life's Energies and owner of the Academy of Coaching Excellence, trains coaches and shares her work through classes and writing. Maria teaches her students to start each day by asking: “Who am I willing to be in order to produce an extraordinary result out of this day?” …
2. Become a self-observer.
We have to be able to observe our thoughts and the stories we are telling ourselves about our encounters. I am a great storyteller and meaning-making machine. I can listen to a few words in a team meeting, phone call or dialogue with another and create an entire three-act play. Ego loves drama, fear and power, and many of my stories are great tragedies.
It's important for me to quickly observe the stories and stresses I am experiencing … and to be able to redirect my reactions in ways that will be helpful to me and others. …
3. Take authentic action.
“Authentic” in this context means to act from our higher source—our intention—not from the ego, but from that spark of divinity that is in all of us. When we act from that place, we know we are being true to ourselves. We are expressing energy that is coming from our soul. We are spirit in action. …
Choice is the only freedom we really have. As we go about our work, whatever form that might take, let's all remember to say yes to what really matters in our life; to say yes to choice; to take time to pause, reflect and choose our intentions carefully; to self-observe our thoughts and feelings; and to act authentically from that sacred place of love and strength.