I wish things were better in my life.
Why are things always going wrong for me?
Why can’t I get ahead?
Why can’t I be happy?
Is it me?
These are questions that most of us ask ourselves as we are going through the trials and tribulations of life. In our darkest hours, we can even convince ourselves that life (an inanimate concept) is against us and that there is no way out. Sadly, many of us succumb to the pressures of life and give in. When this occurs society is robbed of our possibility, meaning that the world may have lost a great doctor, brother, lawyer, friend, professor, pastor, sister, teacher, mother, nurse, father, the list goes on.
Believing that we can’t realize our life’s purpose or calling tends to give rise to the depression, unhappiness, and dissatisfaction that many of us have in regards to our life. But there is hope, because while some of us give in to life’s pressures, others seem to access an inner strength and overcome. What is this inner strength? Do we all have it? If so, what do we need to do to access it?
Well, the truth is that we all have this inner strength, but at different levels. This inner strength is nothing more than our personal leadership, which provides us with the ability to shape and lead the direction of our lives. Some of you may be saying that this concept sounds too simplistic. Well, in theory maybe, but in practice not so. Developing one’s personal leadership so that one can lead his/her life is not an easy task, as it requires:
– Constant awareness of self, choices, and the impact of these choices on our lives and the world around us
– Life-long learning
– Intentional action
These behaviors among others serve as the basis for personal leadership development, but are often taken for granted as we deal with the everyday distractions that we allow to dominate our lives.
It may be a cliche, but life is really what you make it. Our life is truly what we create it to be, but we have to acknowledge and own that fact. There are people from around the world who have overcome horrible conditions and great tragedies to become huge contributors to society, former US President Abraham Lincoln (extreme poverty) and former South African President Nelson Mandela (jailed for over two decades), come to mind.
Conditions such as poverty and abuse can either be hurdles for us to overcome or roadblocks that stop us dead in our tracks. Whichever it becomes, realize that we chose (consciously or subconsciously) based on our level of personal leadership. For example, my personal leadership led me to overcome the poverty hurdle of my childhood, however the same can’t be said for many of my peers who are still immersed in this reality. My personal leadership has taken me further, as it has led to me taking a stand against the ill-conceived perception of powerlessness by the downtrodden and for the empowerment of all who desire to live a life they love. In addition, my personal leadership has led to the answering of my life’s purpose or calling. In doing so, I no longer succumb to the everyday pressures of life, which is a very powerful feeling. Do you know what your life’s purpose or calling is? Do you know what is preventing you from accessing it?
Every moment of our life, even in our sleep, we are being bombarded with different stimuli that can distract us from aligning ourselves with our life’s purpose or calling. However, it is this very purpose or calling that is essential to our well-being and happiness, as this is what we are trying to fulfill during our stay on earth. Understand, that everything in life has a purpose, from the spider’s web to the sun’s rays, to the air we breathe and the water we drink. Everything has a purpose. However, because of human being’s propensity to think, create, and be influenced by the world around us, we are often distracted from our purpose or calling by the (intentional or unintentional) stimuli of the world we live in.
These distractions can come in the form of engaging in over indulgences such as materialism, food, television, or the opposite sex. They can also come in the form of being overly concerned with the lives of others for no other reason than to gossip or to control, using mind altering drugs, or being complacent or lazy. There are so many more distractions that we could talk about, but the point is that they all have the ability to throw us out of alignment with our life’s purpose and calling, leaving us confused, upset, depressed, and unhappy.
The first step to personal leadership development is acknowledging that you have the greatest impact on the realization of your life’s vision. By accessing and developing your personal leadership you will begin to identify who you are, who you want to be, and what you need to do to make the transition to the life that you want to live. By focusing on what you need to do to live the life you want, you will be forced to identify and dismiss distractions that do not serve your purpose. However, living the life that you want to live does not mean that you will live a perfect life, no one does.
Leading your life is not about judging the “politically correctness of you life” or trying to live a life that does not offend anyone. When Dr. King was leading his marches, there were many in the black community that believed his purpose and tactics were wrong. Nevertheless, he continued to follow his calling, which led to the shifting of a nation’s thinking and behavior. Leadership is not about right or wrong. It is about doing what is necessary to achieve your desired outcomes as long as you are not destroying others in the process. Be sure that no matter what you do in life, someone will be upset with what you are doing. For all his great works, Dr. King was still assassinated by someone who did not share his vision.
Remember those outside stimuli I mentioned earlier? They tend to have a vested interest in shaping your beliefs and actions around right and wrong or what’s “correct” in order to serve their purposes and not your own (consciously or subconsciously/intentionally or unintentionally based on their background and beliefs). Whether it be a company selling a product, or a friend giving relationship advice, always be conscious of that.
Accessing and developing your personal leadership helps you access and manipulate what works and what does not work in your life as you align yourself with your life’s calling. By analyzing what is not working and then discarding those practices and behaviors, you will be able to replace them with more productive practices and behaviors that will begin to transform your life for the better. As you utilize this process over time, it will become part of who you are, allowing you to seamlessly manipulate your choices, thinking, and behavior so that you can live the life that you were put here to live, creating sustainable happiness, peace, joy , and prosperity.
Personal leadership development is essential for our lives, as it is our lives that give rise to the successes and failures of our families, communities, organizations, nations, and world.
By Marissa Oldman