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Scott Eblin offers his take on lessons in the news and his advice on your pressing leadership questions.

Create Your Guide for Living (and Managing) in 2017

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In working with and speaking to tens of thousands of leaders over the past 16 years, I’ve become convinced that if you want to lead at your best, you have to live at your best. The first goal is completely dependent on the second.

That’s why I’ve become so passionate in encouraging my clients and readers to create and use their own Life GPS®.

If you’re not familiar with it, the Life GPS® is a simple one page worksheet (you can download one here) that helps you ask, answer and follow through on three vital questions:

  • How are you at your best?
  • What are the routines – physical, mental, relational and spiritual – you need to follow to be at your best?
  • What are the outcomes at home, work and in your community that you would expect to see from consistently being at your best?

If you live at your best, you can lead at your best. With that in mind, this last week of the year is a great time to reflect on what’s worked for you that you want to keep doing in 2017 and to identify the adjustments you could make to create better outcomes in the new year. If you want to read a little more on how to create your own Life GPS®, this blog post from a couple of years ago should do the trick.

And if you need a little bit more of a push, read (with her permission) this note from Natalie (name changed to protect her privacy), an executive who participated in a Leading at Your Best workshop I delivered a few months ago. What follows is a lightly edited version of the difference her Life GPS® is making for her:

I had reached a “blue period” about 6-8 months ago which I had recognized and had started ‘workstreams’ against it, i.e. seeking help, trying out the Buddhist meditation center, reading books. All very good and I understood it cognitively though something wasn’t clicking.

Doing the Life GPS provided a clear guide as to where and how much things were off, as well as what good looked like. What was especially helpful, or was THE KEY is that you stressed starting with what can be done in 5 minutes. Otherwise it would be overwhelming on where to start. Keeping this in mind I decided to write down 3 things I was grateful for each night. I noticed that my iPhone had recommended a meditation app “headspace” which I downloaded. The first night I noticed an immediate difference when I woke up the next morning.

  1. I had wonderful sleep and woke up feeling rested.
  2. I was in a great mood and felt more open and positive towards those around me.
  3. Because of the sleep I had more energy.

This is what it led to….

  1. With better sleep I started waking up earlier and could have breakfast and make myself a lunch. Now I eat on my patio and look at the trees which is an extra luxurious way to start the day. Prior to this I ate nothing all day and lived off coffee and the chocolate the admins had on their desks.
  2. With better nutrition I had more energy in the evening. Prior, I would be hungry, eat whatever and then be exhausted with a crazy change in blood sugar.
  3. With that energy – I used to have a desk PILED with paper, about a foot high. I just kept piling it on my desk. When my desk got full, I piled things on the sofa. I decided 45 minutes a day I will tackle this. I took a before photo to motivate me and photos along the way. Within just the first day there was a great difference. By the end of the week (that is all it took!) everything was clear, filed and organized. I have a clean desk (and sofa!) Sometimes for a mood lift I look at the before and after photos.
  4. I also realized not to feel guilty about needing time to myself. I have a friend who likes to visit twice a month, I also have family a couple hours away, and then work travel. I would feel guilty about saying no to family or friends. I decided to take at least one weekend a month just for me, without guilt. With this time I hit the farmers market on the weekend which I had been wanting to do. The past week for the four nights I was in town I had a great three course fully balanced meal I could get on the table in 30 minutes. I also took photos for motivation. To work on my chocolate craving I bought Kind bars in bulk (that have chocolate in them) to keep at my desk.
  5. One last thing…I have been more open with those around me, I decided I wanted to focus on compassion, and my goal, if one can even achieve it, is to approach everyone with a lens of compassion. I had been so ‘about self’ and not about others. Well the changes are astounding in what that is bringing! In such a short time the positive ‘vibes’ and interactions with people at work have been great.
  6. Something about the 10 minutes of meditation seemed to “unlock” the learnings that I had been building over the last 6-8 months that hadn’t been coming to the fore. So they are all rushing in now. It is almost a bit scary! Luckily the Life GPS lets me know what good looks like so I have guidance – focus on healthy eating, focus on time alone (I am a strong introvert if that wasn’t apparent). There are a few other things (community etc.) that I’m still sorting through. Learning to be patient with myself as I know they will come in time.

Your results may vary from Natalie’s. Actually, they’ll definitely vary because you’re a different person and your version of leading and living at your best will be unique to you. What is certain, however, is that you’ll stand a much better chance of achieving those two goals – leading and living at your best – if you take the time to ask, answer and follow through on the three questions that comprise the Life GPS®. I encourage you to do so and wish you all the best for 2017.

Executive coach Scott Eblin’s goal is to help you succeed at the next level of leadership. Throughout the week, he’ll offer his take on the leadership lessons in the news and his advice on your most pressing leadership questions. A former government executive, Scott is a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and is the author of The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success.

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