At the end of every year, I choose a theme and/or focus for the next year. In years past, I’ve committed to the priorities of practicing yoga (humbling), picking up golf (frustrating), running a marathon (painful–especially since it was San Francisco), and creating healthfulness and energy (absolute game-changer).
I find having this annual focus provides me three amazing benefits:
- Ensures I remain in a mindset of Shoshin, or beginner’s mind, by repeatedly going through the painful yet invigorating process of learning how to learn something new (in other words, the process of getting used to, and okay with, being really terrible at something until I become just a little less terrible).
- Provides for an amazing connection tool to people and resources I would’ve otherwise never encountered because I’m consistently showing up both physically and emotionally with full awareness in the space.
- Gives me the ability to make subjective decisions objective about priorities in my life, and gives me the permission to say no to good opportunities to make room for great ones.
I recently attended the Entrepreneurs’ Organization Global Leadership Academy (GLA). What’s GLA, you ask?
It’s a new group of 30 leading entrepreneurs from around the world (19 different countries represented this year) coming together every year to learn how to become great leaders. If you are hungry for a giant slice of humble pie and a major shift in perspective of life, then GLA is the place to be. There were some really, really impressive people there that have made and continue to make amazing marks upon the world.
In reconnecting with my cohorts, one of the things we all noticed when we got back was something similar to withdrawal or hangover symptoms. You see, it’s invigorating to be surrounded by so many amazing leaders radiating light and positive energy. It’s a whooooole lot harder and takes a whooooole lot more energy to come back to be the source of that light for others…but the former really serves the latter.
If as leaders, we selfishly hoard our light, how is that any better than not having the light at all?
If we have knowledge and wisdom that remains solely between our ears, how are we any better than a novice who has nothing of value to share?
I recently realized I’ve been doing just that. Every year, I read 40-50 books, see dozens of expert speakers, listen to a bunch of podcasts, and read lots and lots of articles…I consume, consume, consume. But I spend very little time, energy, or effort aggregating, curating, or sharing all of this content and all of the knowledge within.
Next year, I commit to less time reading and more time studying; less learning new things, more connecting old things to create something new; less selfishly consuming, more generously sharing…which is not necessarily the easiest thing for me.
I’m in marketing, so promoting others comes naturally to me. But self-promotion? That doesn’t always feel so comfortable. I often oscillate between the two extremes of “Who am I to share this? I’m sure everyone else already knows this, so it’s probably not worth sharing (hello, fear)”…all the way to…”The last thing I want to do is make you think I think I’m a know-it-all, to be the kid in class that raised their hand on every question (once again, hello fear)”.
But as a dad, my kids sometimes tell me that they’re scared to do something: take the training wheels off, go ice skating for the first time. When this happens, the question I always ask them is, “What does it mean to be scared and act anyway?” At which point, they answer—just as I’ve taught them—“To be brave.” I always respond, “Well, go and be my brave little girl/boy.” Isn’t it crazy how often we don’t follow the advice we give to our kids?!?
And so, despite a mess of insecurities and fear, I choose to be brave.
I choose my theme for 2020 to be “Share the Light”.
See what I did there? I’ve now given myself permission to be really terrible at this until I’m a little less terrible, to put things out there even though it is uncomfortable, to put things out there because it is uncomfortable.
Mine is “Share the LIght”.
What’s yours going to be?