"Those who know the essential to be essential
and the unessential to be unessential,
dwelling in right thoughts,
do arrive at the essential."
How do we lead from the "inside" so we have our greatest impact on the "outside?" How do we identify what is essential from all that is unessential and merely a distraction?
The power to lead from the inside-out can transform your businesses, relationships, wealth, health and every aspect of your life -- infinitely. I studied much on this topic at Harvard University, however, it wasn't until I spent several weeks in India with Buddhist monks that I deeply experienced the power of leading from the inside-out.
In the small town of Sarnath, India, where the Buddha is said to have given his first teaching, I developed practices that connected me to the essential nature within us. I experienced a deep level of connection to an inner world that allows us to forever transform our outer world -- to become unlimited by all that is limitless within us.
"Those who know the essential to be essential and the unessential to be unessential, dwelling in right thoughts, do arrive at the essential."
This was a teaching of the Buddha that was carved into stone next to the temple in Sarnath where monks gathered to chant at each sunrise and sunset. For weeks, I sat in silence, observed and allowed the rest to come.
Inside ourselves we find our essential being, our deepest passions, inspirations, visions, hopes, dreams, questions and answers. Inside ourselves, we find our greatest sources of wisdom, strength, resilience, power and impact -- we find our most powerful leader.
Essential pursuits -- those that are purpose-driven -- will lead us to our ultimate and authentic success. We must carefully distinguish between those pursuits and other pursuits that are merely distractions and simply keep us "busy." Our challenge is to lead ourselves and others to purpose and not to distraction.
Yet, how do we find the space to connect with, and "know," all that is essential amidst the constant busyness and distractions around us?
Here are five initial steps:
1. Re-create and re-state your life vision every day. Your life vision will excite, energize and expand you. You will operate from a natural "high" every day as your endorphins, adrenalin and serotonin are boosted by your connection to your essential nature -- to your higher and most purposeful being. Create your life vision. When you have finished, write your vision statement on a small card, keep it with you and repeat in every day (and any time that you feel stressed -- it will help to "reset" and recharge you.) As you repeat your vision, allow yourself to feel joyous in your pursuit of that vision and in the presence of your higher being. Allow that joy and clarity to guide your thoughts, choices and actions throughout each day. Then, you will think, choose and act based on all that is essential, and all that will lead you to your vision.
2. Take responsibility for creating the time for your essential "inside work." "Outside work" will control you unless you take 100 percent responsibility to develop your most powerful inner self. Then, you will find that you will more readily control all that is around you. In the world of mind-science, research shows that we can train and control our brains so that we can have greater control in our lives. Meditation has been shown to be one of the most powerful mind-training techniques, and many of the most successful leaders are now revealing that meditation has been an essential factor in their success. Try at least ten minutes of meditation each day and experience the dramatic results.
3. Encourage others to take time for their own "inner work" each day. As the people around you enhance their mindfulness, they will be better able to problem solve, develop solutions, be comfortable with uncertainty, remain calm in the midst of confrontation and challenges and be happier in their work and life every day. Consider creating at least ten minutes of "inner work" time in your home and workplace each day, and see the difference after only a week. In doing this, you will become a leader who inspires and helps others connect to their inner power, and you will attract exactly the people and resources you need to pursue your vision. You will have loyal, dedicated and effective followers who will stand strongly beside you.
4. Create your "BE" List: Re-prioritize your "Busy pursuits," and act on your "Essential pursuits." The clearer your vision, the clearer your "essential pursuits" will be distinguished from your "busy pursuits." Your essential pursuits will generate your greatest power and impact because they are connected to the vision and purpose for your life. The best way to start the habit of acting on your essential pursuits is to create your daily to-do list, then mark each task with an "E" for "Essential," and a "B" for "Busy." This will transform your "To Do" list into your "BE" list. You must make your "E" tasks your top priorities and organize your day so you can allocate time to complete those tasks. Then, you will find that your "B" tasks are much more readily accomplished because you will be energized from completing your "E" tasks. Think of your "E" tasks as your "essential energizers" for your day -- for your BE-ing. Try this for just a week, and notice the difference in your energy, impact and productivity. Try this for 30 days, and you will have developed the habit of thinking and acting from you higher, inner, self, and you will witness greater power and impact each day.
5. Journal Every Night. Journaling is the channel to your soul and your higher, most enlightened being. Journaling reveals wisdom that remains invisible in the mind until it is shown in words before you. When you journal, it is as if you are turning on a faucet that allows the powerful stream of the unconscious mind to be released, especially if done after a meditation. I experienced the power of journaling when I wrote my first book, and simply allowed the universe to express its messages before me. We do not know what we do not know, and we cannot know the messages of our soul, of our higher self, until we create the medium for those messages to appear clearly and visibly before us. When we create that space, what is unknown becomes known -- the wisdom, solutions and insights that we need to progress on our path are revealed. They are literally written before us. Create this space for yourself at the end of each day. Start this space by reading your life vision, write down the things you did that day toward your vision (your "E" pursuits) and then write your reflections. Write whatever comes to you, don't edit, just let it flow. What you need to be revealed will be written.
If you commit to incorporating these five steps into your daily routine for just one week, you will start to see extraordinary impact on the endeavors you are leading in your personal and professional lives. If you commit to these five steps each day for 30 days, you will form habits that will transform the way you lead yourself and others that will transcend the future you imagine for yourself. Your higher being will take charge from the "inside" and take you to places on the "outside" that surpass anything that you can possibly imagine. Then, you will experience the higher power of leading from the inside-out, and know there is no other way to lead on the journey to your greatest pursuits.