Thursday, October 29, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness - Pendulum

"One must be fond of people and trust them if one is not to make a mess of life." ~ E.M. Forster

Yesterday a friend of mine was talking to me about the idea of leadership as a pendulum. "Imagine that the leader is up here at the top of the pendulum. Even the slightest movement made by the leader causes huge swings down at the bottom. Leaders need to be conscious that when they make seemingly small changes, the repercussions for others are enormous."

I had never thought of leadership this way and wondered how I might be able to apply that to leading my own life. It's easy to play out the idea of what big changes can do to our lives; what happens with the slight changes, the ones we don't put so much thought into? How do they add up and what kind of toll do they take, for better and for worse?

First, for worse: I've been trying to remember to breath. That's right - remembering to breath. Earlier this week I was starting to think about everything I need to get done in the next month. I've made so many commitments - places to be, people to see, tasks I need to complete - that I began to feel overwhelmed. How could I get this all done in the time I had?

Thinking about all of this I was holding my breathe. I closed my eyes and I let it go. I kept reminding myself while I had a lot on my plate, 99% of it was fun stuff, things I wanted to do. We have to take one day at a time, one moment at a time. If we think about swaths of time that are too large, we naturally get overwhelmed. Bite-sized pieces - that's the key. Small steps.

Now, for better: what are the small things we can do in our lives that make a big difference? This week, I've been taking a few minutes before I go to sleep to close my eyes and empty my mind. Last week I was having some bad nightmares. I wasn't sleeping well. And it was effecting my energy and my outlook. It was eroding my hope. This week, I found myself being a bit more bold, able to articulate my point-of-view calmly and succinctly, especially under very stressful situations. All that I needed was a clearer, calmer mind, and that 5 to 10 minutes of meditation before I went to sleep made a big difference.

The next time when I see big swings happening in different areas of my life, I'll raise my eyes up to the top of that pendulum. I'll take a look at the small changes I made, or the small changes I can make, that yield big results.

The image above is not my own. It can be found here.

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