Leadership Success: Some Thoughts on Work, Life, Music, Distractions and Choice

Leadership-SuccessWhat would it take for you to experience leadership success? Let’s face it: there never really is a perfect work life balance. It’s a moving target. Just when we think we’re ahead of the game, life gets in the way.

In many ways, life is like a symphony orchestra. There are 110 instruments in an orchestra. Sometimes all we hear are the violins, but the other instruments must be there to provide necessary support and background. Then maybe it’s the piano in the foreground. Each section has it’s part to play, and none can be ignored. I once met a musician who played the cymbol. Sometimes he only had one note to play in the entire symphony. But it was often the most significant note of the performance. He couldn’t afford to miss it.

Sometimes, work takes the lead in the symphony of life. Other times, it’s the kids. Or even the dog. There’s crunch time in the office, and there are birthdays, wedding, funerals and illness at home. There’s no way anyone can control either life or work. All we can try to do is live a good life, give it our best, and know how to respond to the octopus of time pulling us in eight directions all at once.

But often we go from thing to thing. Bright shiny objects catch our eye. YouTube and the news and social sites give us bright ideas. Distractions often masquerade as opportunities. Unless we know our priorities.

What’s required is choice. We have to know what’s important and what’s not so important. What’s in our wheelhouse or not. It means we have to know what are priorities are. What truly matters to you?

Start with your definition of success. In all my years talking with smart people at work, I’ve never heard anyone say their definition of success is having lots of money, the latest sports car, or a vacation home on a golf course. Everyone always says they want to be happy, be independent, provide for their family and make a difference.

Success is not a destination. It’s not somewhere we get to and then feel like we’ve arrived. We get there, and then we raise the bar. We want the next level. We want more. Success is a moving target. So we need to acknowledge that it’s all about the journey.

We think in terms of endpoints. We define success as reaching our goals. But nothing ends. Goals are checked off and quickly replaced by others.

So how, and when, do we get to feel success? I think you know the answer: along the way. Yet most of us don’t feel success, rather the anxiety and drive to plow on through to the next measure of success. What do you think? Do you celebrate the small wins? Do you take the time to breathe at each waypoint?

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