I’m too busy to make a difference!
The boss is screaming, the kids need help with their homework and you have an email inbox that puts Mount Everest to shame demanding your attention, making a difference is hard to put into practice.
1-Dimensional Leadership (success in your work and sacrificing the rest) doesn't even begin to do it for most of us. 2-D is better, where you can have the life you want and some level of balance but there's still something missing. 3-D Leadership - succeeding at work AND at home AND making a difference somehow in the world around us, simultaneously - is what many of us aspire to have.
Yet, when the boss is screaming for something, the kids need help with their homework and you have an email inbox that puts Mount Everest to shame demanding your attention, making a difference is a habit that may be the hardest to practice. Throw in some washing, bills and a tumultuous economy- one can be forgiven for wanting to crawl under the bed covers and stay there. Isn’t it just too mad to even consider making a difference too?
It may be a lot harder to live in 3-D than 1-D, but it's totally worth it. Although work matters greatly to us, we want to be able to put life first - whether that's family, friends, or our own interests and self-care. Because when things in our personal life are sorted, we are well placed to bring our best qualities and skills into the workplace. And when our personal lives and work foundations are strong, we can then in turn use them as a platform to give back in some way, whether in our organisations, local communities, or the wider world.
Yet, increasingly we are overwhelmed and stressed out trying to get everything done, to have a powerful impact with colleagues and bosses, to be seen and heard, to get some work/life balance, to conquer that feeling of not being good or intelligent enough, to navigate the politics, to deal with negative perceptions that putting life first makes us ‘uncommitted’ and wanting to make a difference is ‘too soft’.
I know from our recent Aspire Women in Leadership report that women are coping with their biggest workload ever and are finding balancing it all a huge challenge. Yet, it is also true that 87% of women want to give back and make a difference in the community and wider world.
So with workloads at their highest ever, can we even think about trying to having the life we aspire to and make a difference outside of our own immediate world?
Here are my top 5 tips:
·It costs nothing to dream and everything not to! – Dream big, why can't you have a big and full life, work and world?
·Don't let other people's limited thinking (or your own!) hold you back – Train your mind to think in a positive and empowering way.
·You become who you spend your time with – Make sure you spend time with people who challenge and support you as much as you can.
·Start putting yourself at the top of your ‘to do’ list, do something nurturing for yourself every day, it will make you feel great and help you to make more of a difference for others.
·Brainstorm some of the things you could do to get going – Have a baby steps policy and start with a small action right now.
Finally, remember, everyone has days when they simply feel like giving up, but in truth obstacles are sent to test our metal and without them we can’t learn, grow or get better. However, small or large they seem at the time, the key is how we handle them fast and learn from them so we get stronger and more resilient.
So here's to you and your aspirations for a MAD (make a difference) life. There's no time like the present, so what will you do right now?
How are you making a difference? If you’d like to win a seat (and all travel expenses within the UK) to The Aspire 2014 M.A.D. Leadership Event in London this June, let us know in a couple of lines what you are MAD (making a difference) about today. Go to www.aspirewomen.co.uk