Inspiration and nudges from the universe can come in the most unexpected forms. If you receive my monthly newsletter, ‘Permission to Pause,’ you will know that I have recently tapped into poetry for inspiration and lessons in leadership and life. (If you don’t, you can sign up here). This week, I was scrolling through LinkedIn and someone quoted a part of ‘The Invitation’ by Oriah Mountain Dreamer.

I loved this poem for years, and after rereading it, I realised that it embodies how I work with my 121 clients, and serves as a powerful nudge as we embark on the journey of 2023. 

So, forget your shiny new notebooks and journals that promise you the perfect life with a few affirmations and daily meditation. Follow the story of this poem to do some self-reflection and kick off 2023 with the real intention to kick its ass. The beauty of poetry is that it triggers something different in each of us, but here are a few of my favourite parts to stimulate your thoughts:

“I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream.”

  • What do you want for yourself this year? Forget your corporate goals and objectives; what is deep in your heart? If you skip this stage and jump straight in with the list of corporate KPIs, then you risk feeling resentful and unfulfilled. If you are managing others and are not asking this question, start asking it now. People are more likely to be engaged and perform when they are connected to something meaningful and have a purpose. 

” I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool.”

  • What are you prepared to risk? With every new beginning comes an ending. With every change, there will be a trade-off. With every attempt to do, learn and be, something new will come and risk failure or judgement. But in the words of Del Boy, “he who dares wins Rodney”. You can risk getting it too wrong, but you can learn and grow from that. If you are not prepared to do that, you risk staying exactly where you are. Choose your hard. 

“I want to know if you can sit with pain.”

  • We have covered risk and now pain. Not too appealing. But wait to reach for that set of manifesting mantras. In the current climate, there is a lot of pain sitting under the surface. Let’s reframe it to emotion. A lot of emotion can seep out when we least expect it. Only this week, I had a client feeling distressed about how she was going to handle the next quarter with a brand new team and exceptionally challenging business demands. She wanted a process – she needed to sit with her feelings, work out what was going on and then lead from there. Emotional literacy is underdeveloped in the workplace, so if you want a competitive edge, developing this would be a good start. 

“Without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic.”

  • Have you ever met a ‘dream thief’? The people that, when you are brave enough to dream big, or play to your strengths, seem to p*&s on your parade with one line? Or you may have an ambitious high-flyer in your team who sets themselves audacious goals that leave you nervous. Without realising it, we can play small and influence others to do the same ‘just to be on the safe side’. Let go of the ego and go for it! You can only win or learn if you adopt a growth mindset. They also say that we are the sum of the five people we spend the most time with – what company do you want to keep this year?

“I want to know if you can disappoint another”

  • So many leaders struggle with overtaking responsibility. Sometimes (in fact, many times), we need to make unpopular decisions. It is very easy to get into a cycle of making things better for everyone else at the cost of your own needs and wants. As Peter Drucker said, “leadership is doing the right things” and leadership starts with leading yourself. There is no reward for becoming the most liked leader if you are burnt out and resentful behind closed doors. Personal boundaries are a crucial facet of self-care, and this may mean that someone else reacts. In many cases, that reaction will validate precisely why you needed the boundaries in the first place.

“I want to know if you can live with failure.”

  • Living with failure and learning from failure are slightly different, and as a coach, it is my job to help you learn and grow from any unwanted or undesired outcomes. Reframing and offering alternative perspectives is a benefit you will get from any good coach, and it is so rewarding to support someone in opening up the possibility in a place they might be currently stuck. What ‘failures’ can you reframe from 2022 that could fuel your growth for 2023?

“I want to know if you can see the beauty even when it is not pretty.”

  • Street Wisdom is one of my favourite techniques when working with clients on their leadership development. It is a mindfulness-based practice that uses the streets as our teacher. One of the exercises is to notice when you are observing something that you judge as ugly and practice reframing to see its beauty. This is not a trite attempt at gratitude, but a way to practice presence and go beyond our initial thoughts. How many times do you dismiss something or someone that had you become more curious, may lead to a fruitful opportunity?

I want to know if you can get up …and do what needs to be done.”

  • How well did you resource yourself in 2022? How much focus do you put on proper rest? Resilience is a key attribute required for leadership today. For many years I thought I was resilient, but I recognise now that I was just good at endurance! Through my own experience, I am passionate about supporting leaders to create margin in their lives to become better leaders and urge you to review your strategies for developing resilience for 2023.

“It does not interest me with whom you have studied.”

  • As a lifelong learnatic, I am pro-education and am someone who pretty much always has something on the go study-wise. However, academia is rarely the answer to today’s leadership challenges. Whatever it is that you are facing right now, rushing off to book yourself on another course or more knowledge is unlikely to solve it. Go deeper within yourself and ask yourself, “who do I need to be” to move forward.

I have lost count of how many Facebook posts I have seen so far that state “this is my year” or “I am coming for you 2023!” It’s everyone’s year, and you can all take a passive or active role in what you wish to create for yourself and your teams. 

Be clear about what you want, take the necessary risks, and learn from what doesn’t turn out as you imagine. Craft your boundaries carefully, and develop your emotional literacy. Be open to alternative perspectives, and invest in resourcing yourself. Slow down to speed up and do the deeper work. 

If you have explored all of the above and still feel stuck in 2022, eager to pave the way for a fantastic 2023, and you are ready to do the work then you know what to do

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