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What’s Your Inner Leader to Do?

When you see #abstorm trending on Twitter, get ready for some show-stopping, jaw-dropping, Hollywood-worthy photos of big skies filled with weird, extra-terrestrial-looking cloud formations, Thor-style bolts of lightning, and/or stripping, pummelling fists of hail.

Yes, in Alberta, Canada, we do storms well. There’s a certain kind of awe; almost homage-paying that happens as you hunker down and hope it passes, yet simultaneously just marvel at the majesty of Mother Nature in all her fury.

But, even the biggest, most vitriol storms seem to pale in comparison to the storms of humanity raging all around. Here. There. Everywhere. Hashtag: ‘world storm’. I’ve shaken my head in disbelief so many times that I feel like one of those dashboard bobble-heads. My neck aches…

Worse… My heart aches.

And, most of us just don’t know if/where to ‘duck’; if to ride it out or to rail against forces we just don’t seem to have any control over, but which seem to have such crushing power over us.

Or… do they?

You see, part of the reason #abstorm is always so dramatic is because the tweets and photos reveal a certain swashbuckler sense of joy, mastery almost, in learning to cooperate with and even to ‘court’ Mother Nature. Ah yes, we congratulate ourselves over and over for our good-natured and rugged ability to ‘weather’ our weather – from harsh winters to unpredictable, wicked, resplendently imposing summer storms.

So, what – if we could see the analogy – what is the parallel learning and strength opportunity for the intense, raging ‘human storms’ that are scourging our world?

There’s little to no time for lengthy discourse. As in the midst of a howling storm, we often have to find solutions even as we’re but halfway through the question/s!

Somehow, we’ve got to figure out how to address the ‘before’; the ‘during’; and, the ‘after’ of not just one, but several swirling storms, all at once.

And, the old adage of “this too shall pass” rings hollow, as we realize that it’s not passing. Not this time. Rather, it’s more like a new, pervasive, disturbing reality. One that is here to stay. One that is long overdue for us to face. And, our only option is to find the eye of the storm and from that place, do what we can to prepare for the next, all the while attempting to remake a new world in the aftermath.

Or so it has felt to me.

And, it’s had me wondering…  just how do we navigate the upheaval and re-create or shape a new future, both at the same time?

It’s dizzying.

Many days, it’s made me seasick. There’s no respite; no land to be found, either. Nowhere that I don’t feel that nauseous disequilibrium of constant disorder and instability as the ground shifts beneath our feet and the black skies crash open overhead, spewing fury with everything they’ve got!

I’m not alone…

We’re not all in the same boat. We are all in the same storm.

– Damien Barr

Oddly, that thought gives me comfort. We are perhaps beginning to understand our common storm – that is, what makes us human. One. In it, together. And, in the face of that, a reconsideration of how we choose to treat (and, hopefully, honour) each other as human beings.

If we let it, the storm may kindle a spark of hope within. Perhaps even a groundswell desire to be part of history-making. A reckoning and recognition that the time is now, for our next best version of, and grandest vision, for humanity. Beginning with each of us, and all as one.

In the midst of it all, what to do and where to start? How do we weather this human storm and use it as a chance to cultivate real and meaningful transformation?

One storm; different boats. Could we begin by appreciating the fleet and each individual ‘vessel’? As Sufi mystic Rumi reminded us centuries ago,

“Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think and twice as beautiful as you’d ever imagined. Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”

Perhaps we start by adopting Rumi’s ‘wisdom’ – to start with ourselves and open to possibility.

The pragmatist in me always likes to be able to ‘see’ such ideals in practical, what I call ‘speed-of-life’ application. So… if the first step is finding our way to the eye of the storm, here’s possibly what that looks like; right here, right now. Not the way; but, rather, a way.

Muster courage. Enact it through contribution.

One little-recognized way that courage can show up is through contribution. It’s when we’re being/become the one who’s willing to do what’s needed.

Look around. Listen. Lean into, for a moment, and deeply acknowledge whatever innate emotions are being triggered in you, me and others. See the inevitable fear-induced, knee-jerk, ‘lizard-brain’ ways of lashing out. See the myriad representations – the combative, ignorant, compliant, evasive, defiant or other insensible variations of ‘fight, flight or freeze’ – as but the self-protective reactions that they are.

Breathe. Breathe for those who cannot. Let your humanity come to life. Then choose.

Draw on your strength to face what would otherwise intimidate or derail you. Give of yourself, to serve and contribute to others’ wellbeing. Do so even if, and especially when, it may never be reciprocated. No action is too small. Realize:

What courage is not, is the absence of fear.

Choose to be bigger than fear; and, act anyway. Courage, as its Latin root-word cor suggests, doesn’t come from a mind overrun or misfiring on fear. It comes from our hearts and a mind able and open to express, not react. So, begin there. Care. Care enough to care; and then show courage in your every action, with every person you meet, no matter what ‘boat’ they are in. One storm, remember?

Let your heart become the eye of the storm. Gently reign in your mind. Consider this question: “When we together will have created a new world, a new way, in the aftermath of these storms, and a next-generation looks back on what we did, what do you hope they will see?”

Summon your inner leader. Whether as friend, colleague, student, educator, parent, worker, business-owner, executive – as steward of our collective humanity – begin, with your very next action, to create that.

In your boat; in our storm; how will you start… now?

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Janice Kobelsky
Janice Kobelskyhttps://janicekobelsky.mykajabi.com/anew-possibility
My work in leadership and strategy development extends across a full and diverse spectrum of industries; products and services; business and career lifecycles; and, levels of complexity and expertise. I’m a Chartered Professional Accountant with fellowship distinction and former Dale Carnegie® master trainer, with extensive background and experience in leadership talent development and entrepreneurial strategic planning. I’ve learned that leadership is multi-dimensional. That each of us, in our own way and roles, must cultivate and demonstrate personal; interpersonal; contextual/cultural; and, situational leadership. So, what does that mean? At its essence, it’s about showing up thoughtfully and courageously to create value. To think strategically; to shape the future and achieve results. To make ideals like ‘better together’ and ‘inspired accountability’ real, through clear direction and alignment. And, to be mindful and deliberate about legacy. Legacy, as in the ripple-effect and impact we pay-forward and that we leave lasting on others; on our communities; on our world. To live and lead ‘on purpose’. Whether through workshops, seminars, in-person or online training or speaking events, one-on-one coaching, team and/or corporate facilitation, my work shares one common denominator: to refine, hone and fulfill on your vision and aspirations. I help you explore why: underlying intentionality and the power of purpose. Build competence and confidence, with unique approaches and frameworks for planning and execution. Then, energize, elevate and enrich your individual and/or organizational ability to shine; to serve; and, to succeed.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Oh Janice, I so needed this – you – today. I needed a dose of Janice. Thank you for beautiful guidance to “Let your heart become the eye of the storm.” As you so well know, I agree that courage – or brave – comes from a focus on impact outside yourself – from a contribution to others. Interestingly enough, my knowing this doesn’t always trigger that action muscle to do something about it, which is why your piece was so profoundly important for me today. Your voice is one that I need in my life more often which is one of the many, many reasons I’m delighted that I will find it on this platform from now on! Welcome to the BizCat family, my dear, talented, wise friend!

    • Kimberly, you make me better! You epitomize what brave really is – that it’s intention AND ‘perspiration’! I so appreciate how real you always are – because you make being brave feel like it’s something any of us can do, if we’re but willing to keep at it. That’s a gift beyond measure. So, thank you. Thank you for your warm welcome. Thank you for your part in getting me here to BizCat and helping me find my brave to do so. Thank you for being my friend. And thank you for letting me know that I’ve made a difference to you today! Our timing is perfect because I so needed that — you — today, too! To remind me that our actions DO matter and to keep focusing on our potential for contribution!

  2. This is a really great article about helping each other. I would ask is inner Leader the right word. I just have never understood why someone needs a leader. I was in business for 55 years and I never followed anyone or ever lead anyone. It seems that looking within is enough. Life gives us the tools to live a good life. That being said that is only my thought and I respect that you may feel differently.

    • Larry, thank you for such a thoughtful reply – and with it the opportunity to see or think from a slightly different point of view. I enjoy that! I see awakening my inner Leader as a way to remain open, curious, willing and brave – especially during times when it might be easier to shrink back. Years ago, I was given a book as a gift because to the people who gave it to me, I reminded them of its title. It said, “Change is good. You go first.” So, to me, yes, inner Leader is an appropriate description. Sometimes it’s forging a path (not ‘the’ path; but ‘a’ path). Stepping up because the need is there. Other times, it’s being the path/or bridge for others – supporting their growth, sparking their potential, encouraging their aspirations. From that perspective, I’ve been blessed to have a few amazing leaders that I’ve been grateful to have been led by. In the end, it’s about helping each other and, like you said, “life gives us the tools to live a good life”. Sometimes those ‘tools’ have come to me from a caring person, who stepped up to take the lead and give me something I wasn’t yet finding or seeing on my own. I am grateful to their ‘inner Leader’ who was ready when I wasn’t quite yet.

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