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Design A Future You Love: 11 Ways That Brilliant Leaders Think Of The Future Differently

Design A Future You Love: 11 Ways That Brilliant Leaders Think Of The Future Differently

Do you feel like your spend your days reacting to everything that happens to you, and you wish that you could stop the merry-go-round and have things go the way you want them?

In my coaching practice, I have found that the brilliant leaders among us have figured out how to do this. They have a vision of what they want their future to look like, and a mindset that allows them to get it. Here are 11 ways that great leaders view the future that allows them to shape it:

1. They know it is foolish to label anything as “good” or “bad.”

When something doesn’t go the way you want it to, it’s tempting to call it a “failure” and lick your wounds. But the thing is, oftentimes something that you initially thought was unfortunate ends up being one of the best things that ever happened to you. Losing your job opened the way for you to start your million-dollar business, or being rejected from the high school football team gave you the time to find your true passion of music. Brilliant leaders don’t beat themselves up over short-term “failures,” but instead keep an amused eye on how it plays out in the long term.

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2. They understand that a great future is only possible with a LOT of mistakes in the present.

It’s tempting to beat yourself up when you make a mistake and lose an important account, or miss a key opportunity. But brilliant leaders know that you can only BE a brilliant leader through a lot of learning and growing — and that making mistakes is by far the best way to do this. Not many leaders were born brilliant, but all were forged to be brilliant by being hit many, many times with the anvil of failure.

3. They know that little things can make a big difference.

A professor of mine used to leave a piece of trash on the ground whenever he would interview candidates, and look to see which of them would pick it up and throw it away. He would give that person the job. The moral of the story: You never know how a little thing like picking up a piece of trash will lead to something much bigger, like you getting the job. So be sure that you live each day in a way that makes you proud.

4. They live in the present as if the future is already here.

Have you ever noticed that if you believe something will happen, it is more likely to? This is because you notice opportunities, and send signals (that other people then react to) that you wouldn’t if you didn’t believe in that future for yourself. For example, if you believed that you would be president one day, then you would act like someone presidential. You would volunteer to give talks, people would notice that you are someone with an air of confidence and vision, and then this would open doors to get you closer and closer to the White House. Brilliant leaders know that if you act like your future self, that self is more likely to happen.

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5. They understand that the unthinkable will happen.

The thing that goes wrong is almost always the one thing you never thought would go wrong. This is why worrying is so pointless. Brilliant leaders know that worrying is a waste of energy, and so instead stay alert for whatever might come their way.

6. They know that the best way to prepare for the unthinkable is to keep themselves in great shape.

Your response to the unthinkable is mostly governed by gut reaction, because you simply can’t rehearse in advance. So you need to make sure that you are in peak form at all times. This is a tall order, I know, but there are some simple rules you can follow to keep yourself in great shape: sleep enough, exercise often, eat healthily, do one thing that challenges you daily, and do one act of kindness daily. If you keep yourself tuned up in this way, you will be able to put your best foot forward when the unthinkable happens.

7. They know that there are many paths to get to the same place.

It can be tempting to think that the ONE path in front of you is the only way to get what you want. But a brilliant leader knows that life is long, and that the only limit on number of paths from A to B is your ability to think of them. In fact, by bemoaning “the one that got away,” you actually prevent yourself from thinking of all of the other paths. So if one fails, start searching for the next right way!

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8. They understand that some things won’t change.

How much energy do you spend wishing that your partner, officemate, or neighbor will change? And then getting really upset when they don’t? A brilliant leader knows that it is futile to try to change people, and so devises strategies to work with them. Sure, you can help them grow, but your relationship with them shouldn’t depend on them growing.

9. They know that everything changes.

As the old saying goes, the only thing that never changes is change. As humans, we are not programmed to like change, but this hinders our ability to grow and evolve. A brilliant leader is comfortable with themselves and not attached to how things are. They see change not as threatening, but as full of potential.

10. They know what is in their control… and what is not.

At the end of the day, all you have control over is yourself. How you behave, how much you love, how smartly you work, how much you honor your core values, how much you inspire others. A brilliant leader knows that their main job is to be the best leader they can be, and that that is quite a lot.

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11. They value people.

Brilliant leaders know that no amount of hard work on their own will get them where they want to go. They need relationships with people who believe in them and their cause, and those relationships are actually the most important thing.

Which one of this list will you bring into your life this week? Write a note and share!

— Samantha

Featured photo credit: Blue Eye/ Rob Unreall via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

2 Transformational Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy

2 Transformational Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy

Good things come in twos: Peanut butter and jelly, Day and night, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The same is true for what sparks our creative energy: our thoughts and actions.

Creativity is an inside job as much as it is about a conducive schedule, physical environment, and supportive behaviors. By establishing the right internal and external landscape, creativity can blossom from the abstract to the concrete and we can have fun along the way.

Sparking creativity is all about setting up the right conditions so a spark is ignited and sustained. The sparks don’t fizzle out. They are allowed to grow and ripen.

Think of a garden. Intention alone will not produce the delicious red tomato nor will the readiest seed. That seed needs attention at its nascent stage and as it grows a stalk and produces fruit. If we want to enjoy more than one fruit, we keep at it, cultivating the plant and reaping multiple harvests.

Creativity lives in each of us like seeds in the earth or encapsulated in a nut. Seeds of ideas, concepts, designs, stories, images, and even ways of communicating that surprise and delight await activation.

By sparking our creative energy, we activate these unique seeds. Like snowflakes, they are of a moment and always without a match. The smallest sparks encourage even the smallest, most dormant seeds to sprout.

The good news is that our creative energy wishes to be sparked—to be invited to play. It wants to be our regular playmate.

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1. Be Childlike in Your Thoughts, Attitudes, and Approach

Being childlike in our thoughts, attitudes, and approach is an easy way to internally have our thoughts be gracious prolific gardeners to our creative energy. If we want it to come out and play and hang around as our regular companion, then let’s return to our 5-year-old selves.

Our childhood selves are naturally curious. We still have that curiosity! All we have to do is remind ourselves to get curious. We can do that by simply observing and being with what is in front of us instead of making up a story about what won’t work or why something can’t be done. So, it’s about cultivating curiosity instead of jumping into judgment.

Move Your Inner Judge to the Sidelines

When we get curious, creativity percolates and, ultimately, takes its place in the world. To give a hand in choosing curiosity over judgment, we can move the judge that also lives inside us to the sidelines. The judge squashes our creative urges, even when they are as small as sharing a point of view. It’s that pesky voice that causes us to doubt ourselves or worry about what others will think.

The judge is also risk-averse. The judge likes things to stay the same. Change makes the judge nervous.

Creativity is all about risk and changing things up. It needs risk, even failure, to be its naturally innovative, dynamic, impactful self. The judge likes to convince us failure is something to be avoided at all costs.

To move the judge to the sidelines and let curiosity reign, we can pay attention to who we are in conversation with and who is calling the shots.

Is it the voice of fear, doubt, or anxiety (the inner-critic—the judge’s boss)? Or is it the voice of wisdom, courage, strength, and non-attachment, and of course curiosity (the inner-leader)?

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We can easily tell the difference by how each makes us feel. The inner-critic depletes and slows us down, putting roadblocks in the way. The inner-leader energizes and a natural rhythm develops.

It’s all about who we spend time with. If we wish to exercise, we will seek out our friends who go to the gym or hike. If we want to lose some weight, we will opt to eat dinner with someone who prefers a healthy spot over fast food.

After getting curious, we can honor what our curiosity prompts us to do. The spark can do its job and a fire starts to glow when commitment enters. Our childhood selves were fully committed to being creative. That level of commitment is still something we are very capable of exercising!!

Again, we need to let go of the judge. We can ask ourselves, what do we want to commit to—negativity that depletes our creative energy, depth, and output, or the understanding that our thoughts and attitudes matter and that right thoughts and attitudes are the sparks that really let our creativity come alive?

Learn to Recall Your Childhood Self

To get in touch with that unabashedly committed childhood self, recall your childhood self. If you have a picture, pull one out. Keep it around so you can remember to activate that innate creative nature that was prominent then and wants to be prominent now and always.

Soak in the essence of that being. Commit to their commitment to brave and dogged trial and error because it is yours as well. You are that person.

Remember how tenacious you were when you wanted to build that sandcastle. You kept at it as the waves came in. You built with fury or reconfigured the walls. Also, remember that there was a willingness to fail since you were as invested in the process as well as the outcome—but less with the outcome. You were willing to experiment and start again. There was vitality—the main lifeline of your creative energy—instead of a rigid attachment.

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When you notice you are in conversation with your inner-critic or being held back by it, simply acknowledge, name it, and then switch to your inner-leader by taking a few good deep belly breaths, rubbing two fingertips together, or listening to ambient sounds in the background.

Physical movements shift our negative thoughts over to the positive domain of the inner-leader. As our judge continues to sit on the sidelines, our ability to quiet the inner-critic becomes stronger. We taste freedom. A simple taste emboldens us to say no again to the judge and yes to what makes our hearts and spirits sing—our creativity.

We begin to spark creativity to the point it no longer needs to be invited to play. It becomes our regular playmate—the younger sibling or the kid next door ready to have some fun, maybe even make some mischief by shaking things up.

When we align with our inner-leader and think and act from its promptings, creativity flows up and out with ease, as it needs to!

Letting those initial sparks generate a creativity fire that keeps burning is something we can all do! That’s the inside job.

2. Listen to Your Inner Leaders of Creative Energy

If we listen, our inner-leaders will let us know just what we need to set-up and do in our physical world to maximize that gorgeous, hungry creativity we now have flowing freely in us.

The seed has been unlocked! So, now what?

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To enable our creative energy to take its form and place outside of us, there needs to be spaciousness! Spaciousness in our physical worlds impacts our internal one. It lets the voice of the inner-leader be heard. It lets creativity have room to be sparked and acted upon.

With a little discipline, we can easily create spaciousness in our daily lives—spaciousness that will spark our creativity and let it take shape.

So, no matter who you are and what conditions help your creativity thrive, check-out these easy-to-implement basic suggestions:

  • Reduce or eliminate multi-tasking.
  • Say yes to what matters and what aligns with your big values and goals.
  • Say no to all else.
  • Say no again.
  • Schedule time in your calendar as you do with other things in your life to just be, to ponder, to let ideas percolate, and to create.
  • Spend time doing the things that bring out your creative energy. It could be walking, singing, or simply looking out the window.
  • Meditate.
  • Breathe—long breaths in and long breaths out through the nose.
  • Invite your body and heart into your experiences so your mind is a part of you and not all of you.
  • Try a new thing to spark your creativity. If you spend time running, try a different route. If running feels stale, cruise around a museum, or go for a bike ride.
  • Play a game. Indoors out or outside. Think of what makes you happy that you haven’t done in a while. Is it a physical game like badminton or cards? Maybe it’s storytelling? Play is creative, and it sparks the creative energy, too.
  • Spend time in the places that bring out your creativity. What spot in your home could be your spot for entering into that mode? Do you need to get out? Maybe a park bench is the right spot, with a book of poetry, or even nothing at all.
  • Spend time in nature. Nature brings us to a place of calm and awe and through that our creativity is easily sparked.

Final Thoughts

These are all habits—habits of mind and habits of doing. Experiment with what works for you. Have fun. If you give even 50% to altering your thoughts and actions, then you will begin to spark your creativity. It takes a lot of curiosity and commitment, but it can definitely be done.

Our innate creative energy is a deep source of all that we seek—joy, connection, renewal. It deserves and looks forward to the changes you will make that will let sparks fly and ignite!

More Tips to Spark Your Creative Energy

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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