What I am writing here is based on my own experience and what I observed and learned. It is my point of view and it makes sense to me. It has worked for me and is still working for me. It remains being your responsibility to do your own critical thinking, don’t just believe.

And that is exactly my intention: making you think for yourself.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Flow: Leading Oneself

Today it's going to be a different post. A post written being in the flow. In my flow. Usually, the posts I am writing here are short. This one is longer. Personal and about leading oneself the way I experience it.
This thing called life has its ways to teach us. It certainly taught me some lessons.
Early on in my life people told me to be in the flow. "Life is easier that way" they said. Yet, when I asked what exactly they meant by that I got the blank look. Some came up with some ambiguous answers. Others were explaining that it was something like fitting in, being part of whatever that was.
With my free and independent spirit I decided that this concept was too foreign. Well, to be honest, I thought it was plain old bullshit.
During my teenage years I was always a troublemaker. I never just believed. I wanted evidence. Arbitrary rules didn't work for me and still don't. I am the proverbial rule breaker. When I came across a Malcolm X speech I listened up: "Power is never given. Power is taken." he said. Now that resonated with me. Exactly.
The day came and my mother said to me "You are not in the flow. Don't be such a rebel." "Here we go again!" I thought. Yet my dad just smiled.
Interesting enough my friends always looked at me first when it came to play something. And so did my classmates at school. Later, the same happened with colleagues at work. I never asked for it. It was their idea to see me as their leader. And sometimes I wondered why. I was simply myself living my life. What was the big deal?
During my corporate life it was no different. I had all sorts of leadership positions. And there was one common denominator for all these positions: I could do it my way. I think for myself, doing my own critical thinking. Which is the way I live. It was not particularly healthy as a career strategy in a corporation though. But I had the most difficult, most challenging tasks. Exactly what I wanted and loved. And I was successful. And many people wanted to join my rather small teams. Hence, I could always pick the best ones.
I was and still am also a risk taker. Mountain climbing was first. Then, later, I added skydiving and scuba diving. And nature taught me the lessons of leadership. Going beyond my perceived limits drives me. Yet, it's a calculated risk. I train for it. I know what I am doing. And I understand the risk and its possible consequences.
But there was something inside me bugging me. And I felt like critical mass was building up. I was done with corporate. And I quit. Another risk taken. But free at last.
I took some time here in CA for myself. It was needed. I immersed myself into fields like philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, and into my favorite: physics. Through physics I understand my world. Physics fascinated me from an early age on.
During these years I finally understood that I was always in the flow and I still am. I am in my flow. There were times when I had lost my path and ended up in a different flow: other people's flow. And you feel that something is wrong. It's like an electric current going through a conductor of high resistance. It doesn't work well that way. You feel the pain. And it gets you back to your flow provided you are self aware and pay attention.
I also understood this concept of being the master of my life. I see it more like the architect of my life. You can plan and build it any way you want it. Yet, there are principles in this complex world you must observe. There are the many things you cannot control. Uncertainty rules. Severe situations you can only endure. And those will show you the material you are made of. Character building events.
And it's never easy. I can't do easy anyway. Easy is boring. To me until now it was a rewarding experience. What made it rewarding were the people I met and got close to. Remarkable people I had and still have profound relationships with. Others took a different path and we lost contact. New people came into my life. And when I least expected it this one special person appeared. The one bringing out the best of you. The one you want to never ever miss in your life. More than just a soulmate. Remarkable people and remarkable experiences. People accepting me the way I am and viceversa. Well, that's the only way with me. That's what made and makes my life so rewarding.
I never thought of myself as a leader. I did and do my thing. I live my life. I do it my way. And I am in my flow. I don’t follow a different drummer. I am the drummer. No matter how difficult that might appear to others. Yet, for some reason there were always people choosing to follow me. And I feel deeply honored by that.
I think that's what leadership is about. Being authentic. Being the way you are. Being who you are. Being in your flow. Hence, my story above. When people then choose to follow you, you are a leader.
Stay in your flow. Always. Sometimes it's a peaceful stream, and sometimes it's the wildest river you can imagine. It's peaceful when you follow your path, your dreams ... it's wild and raging when you leave your path.
That’s what leading oneself is about.
Enjoy the ride!