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Life, Death, and Leadership Lessons

Life leadership lessons in death. Cartoon by Nina Paley, Eunice & Mimi

Life lessons

In life, Dad was probably the biggest fan of this blog. Through his illness, he reminded me of important life, death, and leadership lessons that can benefit us all right now. This blog is dedicated to his incredible patience, wisdom, support, and love!

Walking before you sprint

A motto he inspires me to live by is “Life is a marathon, not a sprint”. You may wonder, what does running have to do with leadership lessons?

It is such a simple concept, yet one so hard to do for many.

The premise is learning to pace ourselves for the long haul, as opposed to what many of us do particularly in youth – do as much as we can for as fast and long as possible. The perfect recipe for burnout!

The antidote?

Finding a healthy balance between how we invest our time between work, family & friends, community, and ourselves. 

Living in the moment

Life and leadership share something else in common: they are made up of a series of “in-the-moment” events. These moments leave a lasting impression on those around us. To that end, Dad imparted a few more mottos over the years built from his own executive career and life experiences:

  1. Live with purpose, we get one turn on life’s merry-go-round ride so make it count
  2. Think twice, speak once (his twist on we have two ears and one mouth)
  3. Speak in kindness always, being unkind inevitably comes back to bite you
  4. Do today what is required now, everything else can be triaged tomorrow
  5. Yesterday is done, learn from it but never beat yourself up about it
  6. Build fun and laughter into each day, we never know what tomorrow holds
  7. If you don’t like where you are, let your feet do the talking and keep on walking
  8. If you aren’t happy, change what you are doing, don’t stay and complain
  9. Success is always the best revenge

The principles behind these all circle around a key theme – no matter what happens in life, be mindful of the impact you have on those around you. Our impact often stays with others, and with ourselves, far beyond the situation itself so always ensure it’s a positive (or constructive) experience.

Positivity as a leadership lesson

Picking up on his views about positivity. We inevitably meet three kinds of people throughout life: negative, neutral, and positive. 

We can easily identify negative ones – they are the individuals that see and speak about what could go wrong, and what is wrong and do so from their view of the world. Negative-minded individuals tend to be energy consumers of others, they are often described as pessimistic.

Positive ones are equally identifiable – they are the individuals that see and speak about all the potential benefits, see the upside or the good in everything, and tend to be the office “cheerleaders”. Positive-minded individuals tend to give energy to others, they can sometimes be described as overly optimistic.

Neutral-minded individuals are sometimes more challenging to recognize as they tend to come from a place of pure rationality focusing on the facts at hand rather than dwelling on “what-ifs”. Whereas negative and positive-minded individuals tend to include either the positive or negative “what if” emotions within their rationality.

The best question is perhaps less about which one we should be, and more about which style is most useful right now.

A practical example illustrating mindset types

Think back to the pandemic when we heard the news about the first 60-day lockdown period.

An optimist would tend to say: “It is for the best to protect everyone, and 60 days will pass in no time before we are back to normal again.”

A pessimist might tend to say: “Here we go, our freedoms and rights are being taken away. This is the beginning of the end of our world as we know it!”

Whereas the neutral person could say: “Let’s cross each bridge as we get there, no need to panic or get excited. It is what it is.”

When facing stressful moments in life, ones, where we cannot pre-prepare for what we are facing, a neutral mindset is the most helpful for making decisions. It allows us to do so based on the challenges and facts we face right now. If we start making emotional decisions in business or in life, then our business will operate on how we feel and so will our lives. Perhaps not the best idea for sustainable longevity! Neutral-minded decision-making allows us to be equally open to both positive and negative outcomes as possibilities, and then deal with whatever happens.

Your turn

Sign in to the Community Member Area or comment below to share the life and leadership lessons you’ve heard or learned that you find helpful.

Give it a try!

Cartoon credit: Nina Paley

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