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  • Amina Aitsi-Selmi

Becoming a leader: the one thing you need

What does it take to be a leader? You will find numerous books and ideas around leadership and many of them talk about vision and being able to bring people on board to make things happen and turn your vision into a reality e.g. here. But where does our vision come from and what sustains it?

Commitment, dedication and action?

Some schools of thought talk about the ability to create anything. Just pick something that is topical and needed and dedicate yourself to it, follow certain steps and principles and you will make it happen.

Inspiration and charisma?

Other schools talk about inspiration, feeling into the creative space that exists around us and checking in with your inner-experience to see what lights you up; because what lights you up at the core of your being is likely to be your purpose and destiny. From a practical perspective, doing something that connects you to that inner-fire will give you the fuel to get through the tough times.

Of course, everything is about balance. In addition, we’re not always great at sensing into the inner-world and identifying our feelings accurately, let alone working with them as we walk he path of leadership. This is emotional mastery and is one of the reasons CEOs and other leaders are paid handsomely – there is a large burden of emotional labour required to hold those positions.

Activating leadership: What is your ONE BIG QUESTION?

Like Einstein (and Neo comes to understand in the Matrix), your focus shouldn’t be on getting the answer; it should be on having a powerful question. Having a powerful and therefore empowering question that leads to answers and then more empowering questions is how we create while being in flow. It’s a living investigation into life and what we can bring into the world through our being here.

As we go through the emotional transformations necessary to bring a vision into the world, we create things and have an impact on people and the world. And this is what is meant when we talk about being detached from the outcome. You are living into your question and noticing the answers and outcomes that emerge along the way – but they are not the destination.

The question that has driven me for a long time, and that probably drives many of you, is “How can I help to save the world/how can I help other people?” It’s the reason I studied medicine, the reason I went into public health, the reason I took a leap into coaching, etc. I look back on my life from where I am, and I believe that this has been the fuel of the engine.

ONE BIG QUESTIONS can relate more directly to the personal sphere of life: “How can I reproduce the sense of love and belonging that I experienced as a child?” which can drive actions around wanting to create one’s own family.

What is your ONE BIG QUESTION? Could you write it down in a few words if asked to? How does this question appear as answers around you in your work or personal life? Do you like this question or would you like to change it?

A call to action on one particular question of global relevance is suggested in the video below, filmed in the financial centre or one of the financial capitals of the world.

Transforming leadership: working with the intention behind your ONE BIG QUESTION

As I’ve written on past Wise Wednesdays, a fulfilling life is guided by a noble intention (which can be formulated as a question to create the leadership momentum I’m talking about here). However, we must acknowledge our human needs as these are threads that intermingle with even the noblest and apparently most selfless intentions. For example, the needs fuelling my ONE BIG QUESTION (How can I save the world?) include a mixture of the need for significance/validation, connection/belonging, growth and contribution.

As we evolve, age and become wiser and more secure we focus less on the first two types of need (significance and connection) and place greater value on the second two (growth and contribution). At this point, leadership takes on a different more powerful form and can really require that we burn up a lot of ego. We are purifying the energy fuelling the intention and therefore the ONE BIG QUESTION.

In Buddhism this is referred to as purification of intention, or in other words, our experience becomes: I can see using self-awareness when I am “helping others/the world” to meet my need for connection or significance and I do the emotional work necessary to meet the needs appropriately, elsewhere. As a result, I can get back into the flow of the question i.e. a state in which I am continuously understanding how to help others/the world because being of service to the greater whole is simply what I am here to do and my life energy is designed for this purpose – the expansion and unfolding of the whole whether this be through an organisation, community, family or all of these.

What can you do to become more self-aware of the different elements in the fuel driving your ONE BIG QUESTION? Which needs are you trying to meet (consciously or subconsciously) through this and can you meet them in other, better ways?

Please, feel free to share with friends, family and colleagues.

Have a fantastic week and until next time.


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