Friends! WHAT a year, no? How are you feeling here at the end?
In this post: 3 key learnings, 3 high intentions, and my 6 recommended life readings.
What resonates with you?
What would you add?
For a thoughtful and inspiring look on the coming year, check out Donna Cameron’s post from yesterday.
3 Key Learnings of 2019
“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” –John Muir
“All that you touch, you change. All that you change, changes you.” –Octavia Butler
We all live in inextricable connection, like it or not, know it or not, want it or not. Every interaction has potential for benefit and harm, and the scale is exponential. Some may find this idea daunting, overwhelming, or untenable. I find it reassuring. The idea that some cosmic life thread connects us all, that we are made of the same stuff today as that which existed at the dawn of the universe—this gives me peace. It encourages me that everything I do in good faith could make a difference. You really never know how far a small gesture or sharing will reach for good.
The 3 Tenets of Relationship-Centered Leadership
Not so much learnings as a synthesis from LOH training, these are the current foundation statements of my personal and aspirational leadership tenets (iterations likely to evolve over time):
- Founded on curiosity, connection, and fidelity to a people-centered mission
- Attendant to the relational impacts of all decisions, local and global
- Respectful of norms and also agile and adaptive to the changing needs of the system
Having defined these ideals for myself, I am now fully accountable to them. And I hold them as a standard for those who lead me.
Being >> Saying or Doing
Saying and doing compassionate, empathic, and kind things are necessary and noble. And they are not enough. These actions ring hollow without honest sincerity behind them. People feel us before they hear our words. Our authentic presence, positive or negative, originates from within. It manifests in posture, facial expression (overt and subtle, intentional and subconscious), movement, and tone and cadence of voice. Fake it ‘til you make it—saying and doing things because we know we ‘should’—only gets us so far. We humans possess a keen sense of genuineness—it’s a survival instinct. If we accept that a meaningful, productive life and effective leadership in particular, require strong, trusting relationships, then we must cultivate true compassion, empathy, and kindness. That means suspending judgment, managing assumptions, and holding openness to having our perspective changed by all that we encounter (see first key learning above), among other things. This may be life’s penultimate challenge—our role models include Mother Theresa and the Dalai Lama.
3 High Intentions for 2020
- Continue to ask more and listen better for people’s personal and unique meaning making—not just patients but all people—attend to souls
- Let go perfection
- All relationships are not great, and it’s not all my fault
- Some people/relationships and circumstances challenge my best self and skills more than others
- It’s the honest, sincere, good faith effort, and the learning from imperfection and failed attempts that matter
- Some relationships are better ended
- Guard against judgment, arrogance, and cynicism
6 Recommended Life Readings—the 6 most personally impactful books I have read in the last decade:
The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander. Scarcity thinking, competition, and looking out for number one hold us all back. Stepping fully into our central selves, claiming our full collective agency for creativity and collaboration, and manifesting all the good we are capable of—that is the discovery of this book for me.
Start With Why by Simon Sinek. In my opinion, the most eloquent and resonant writing on the purpose-driven life. The freedom and creativity that flows forth therefrom—it all just gives me goosebumps. Sinek’s The Infinite Game may eventually make this list too, once I have integrated its content and learnings more fully.
Rising Strong by Brené Brown. Strength and vulnerability, confidence and shame, individuality and belonging—these are the essential human paradoxes that Sister Brené reconciles with gritty aplomb through real life stories as well as grounded theory research.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Be you, all you, all in. Love thyself—flaws, failures, and falls all included. Make things. Because that is what we are put here to do, for ourselves and for one another.
Leadership and Self-Deception by The Arbinger Institute. Perhaps no book explains the profound importance of being better in order to do better, better than this. And it took me almost all year to really comprehend, and then begin to apprehend, the concept.
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, MD. I started and finished this one on vacation this past week. Dr. Gawande is my favorite physician writer. I consider this book required reading for all physicians for sure, but really for all people . “The death rate from life is 100%,” a wise patient once told me. In modern western society and culture, multiple intertwined and complex forces hamstring our ability to live and die well and at peace. This book is a brilliant compilation of heartrending personal and professional stories, neatly folded with history, research, and practical information for improving this sad state of things. It is also a guide to the hard conversations that we all should really have—now. It has both validated what I already do in my practice, and profoundly changed how I will do things hereafter. Thank you, Dr. Gawande.
Best wishes for Peace, Joy, Love, and Connection to all.