I sometimes wonder about sharing articles like this because at first glance it appears to have nothing to do with business (and might also seem a little ‘heard it all before’). But as a coach, I know that learning how to be your most authentic self transforms not just your personal life, but the way you do business too. To phrase the article, ‘There’s a very particular sense of disquiet that comes from not being who we know we truly are.’
I wanted to share this article because every now and then we all need reminding that we owe it to ourselves to be the happiest we can be whilst also making time, allowances and space for others. Moreover, I enjoy the questions you can raise to yourself when considering the seven practices below, including:
- What would I do if there was no need to make money but I had to do something with my days?
- How will I respond if I need to stand up for my principles?
- What challenges have I navigated that I would like to help other people to get through?
- Is this behaviour, thought or choice leading me towards greater compassion for all, or away from it?
- What is it that truly bring me joy?
1.) Accept Yourself
Self-acceptance is one of the cornerstones of a good life — and it is something that we need to offer ourselves. Unfortunately, most of us are far more familiar with its’ opposite, self-denigration. We beat ourselves constantly. We deny our own beauty. We seek out others to compare ourselves to and bemoan the ways in which we are not like them. In the process we reject our truth and our unique, precious selves. We strive to continually upgrade ourselves, our possessions, our job titles, and our dwellings, never accepting ourselves for where we are in this moment in time. But self-acceptance is something that must be nurtured within, it is the willingness to recognise that we are worthy exactly as we are, right now in this moment and in every future moment that is to come.
2.) Live Your Principles
Your principles are the answers to questions like: Who are you? What do you stand for? What matters most to you? What does your character and virtue look like, and how are you committed to cultivating them every day? The answers to these questions stabilise us in the rocky times and motivate us in the good times. They provide us with the moral clarity that we need to take intentional, courageous, and empowered action.
To live your principles, try:
- Write down your answers to the above questions, and keep them somewhere handy. Then, ask yourself: How will I respond if I need to stand up for these principles?
- Keep promises to yourself. If you say you will do something for yourself, honour it.
3.) Cultivate & Use Your Gifts
You are completely, perfectly, utterly unique. No one on this whole planet, and no one who has ever lived before you, has ever experienced what you have. No one else has had the unique cocktail of life experience, natural talents, passions, interests, curiosities, setbacks, and growth. These are your gifts, and they make you irreplaceable. The more that you discover and use these gifts, the greatest happiness you will experience, and the greater impact you will have upon the world around you.
To overcome this, we can start to use our gifts — taking small, but very courageous steps forward in expressing, sharing, and developing them.
To cultivate and use your gifts, try:
- Imagine what you would do if there was no need for you to make money but you had to do something with your days.
- Ask yourself, “What challenges have I navigated that I would like to help other people to get through?”
4.) Help Others
One of the most profound ways to help others is to use your gifts in a venue like your work, hobbies, or other pursuits. In doing so, we can experience profound fulfilment.
But, in addition, it is also always possible to help others simply through kindness and goodness. A simple act of kindness can change someone’s world forever. Kindness is, in fact, the underpinning of our society. We are all here because of the efforts of other people. Ironically, the more that you seek to continually invest back into the commons, the more you personally benefit in the happiness you receive in return.
To help others, try:
- Sending a kind note or text message every day for the next week
- Completing a random act of kindness the next time you go out in public
5.) Look For the Good
In that vein, kindness is the recognition that we are not alone in this world. There is so much beauty and goodness around us. We can see it in nature, in human progress, in strength and resilience, in love and relationships. When we choose to see the good in others and in our world, we remember that we are all so much more alike than we are different, that we are sharing this planet and this world, and that truly, what we do to one another is what we do to ourselves.
Focusing on our interconnectedness promotes a sense of expanded love. It allows us to leave our naturally self-centred perspective and to not only celebrate what is, but to imagine what might be — and then, to build it.
To look for the good, try:
- In every conversation, focus on a beautiful quality within the other person.
- Whenever someone is frustrating you, bring your attention to what you both share.
6.) Do What Brings You Joy
Joy is the fuel that keeps us going through challenging times, that connects us to one another, that inspires us to be our best selves.
Prioritising what makes you feel alive, nourished, strong, and supportive is always important. The world would like to tell you to put these items at the bottom of your to-do list, to push aside anything that isn’t ‘productive’. But joy is the fuel for service, love, and growth. It inspires transformations and evolutions. Consider giving yourself permission to make it a priority.
If you want to do what brings you joy, try:
- Take one hour for focused joy time to do anything that feels good to you. If you need support from a family member or friend to make it happen, ask.
7.) Practice Compassion For All Beings
Underpinning all these behaviours is the importance of compassion. It is what inspires us to want to do good in the world, and it also gives us the strength that we need to do so. All beings everywhere deserve compassion (including you.)
If you want to practice compassion, try:
- Whenever you are stuck, try asking yourself: “Is this behaviour, thought or choice leading me towards greater compassion for all, or away from it?”
If you made it to the end then I hope this article has given you something to think about – no go ahead and figure out what brings you joy!
Make sure you sign up to my short weekly email, Rambling On, which covers lots of useful and thought-provoking articles and videos for business founders and leaders.
Every Wednesday I book out an hour to hold a FREE agency leaders surgery. If you have something on your mind, a challenge you’re wrestling with or just want an alternative point of view, I’d be very happy to lend an ear and maybe help you start to unpick the issues. You can help yourself to my calendar, here. Speaking to a diverse group of agency leaders helps me stay current and contextualise the issues I’m seeing with my clients. So please see this conversation as a genuine collaboration where we both hope to learn something new.