Are You Living and Leading Wholeheartedly?

There has been recent buzz in the field of education about the power of “self-compassion” for academic motivation and success. Essentially, current research suggests that teaching students to be self-compassionate can help them cope with failure by shifting their personal value to intrinsic factors rather than external achievements. This in turn makes them more likely to experiment and engage in creative problem-solving.

If you’re in a leadership or management position, chances are you could use more self-compassion in your day to day life. Many of us judge our own value based on our achievements—and rightfully so, to some extent. But if your primary motivation is external, you are likely operating from a place of anxiety and distress at least some of the time. This discourages innovation and risk-taking behaviors that are essential in today’s workplaces.

In her book Daring Greatly, Brené Brown describes the concept of living wholeheartedly in similar terms: “Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.” It’s a simple principle that, unfortunately, is very difficult to achieve because we live in a society that encourages us to measure self-worth by external indicators like money, possessions, and awards. Living wholeheartedly is a major challenge for most of us.

Brown provides ten indicators of wholehearted living:

  1. Authenticity and letting go of what others think
  2. Letting go of perfectionism
  3. Cultivating resilience rather than focusing on failure
  4. Gratitude and joy in daily life
  5. Learning to trust and letting go of fear of uncertainty
  6. Cultivating creativity
  7. Valuing play and rest just as much as productivity
  8. Calm and stillness rather than anxiety
  9. Engaging in work because it is meaningful rather than because you’re “supposed to”
  10. Laughter, song, and dance rather than control and coolness

You may have noticed that many of these indicators share a common emphasis on vulnerability. In fact, Brown argues that “vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center, of meaningful human experiences.”

Leaders need to be able to expose and embrace their vulnerabilities in order to live wholeheartedly and model positive behavior to their employees. But practicing vulnerability is difficult and can be frightening. Working with a coach can help you overcome your fears and set you on the path to wholehearted living.

What do you think of Brown’s indicators? I’d love to hear your opinion. You can reach me via my websiteLinkedIn and Twitter.

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