The past is history, the future is a mystery, and this moment is a gift.
ALICE MORSE EARLE
Recall the iconic movie Back to the Future, where Michael J. Fox's character found himself transported through time in a high-tech DeLorean. While such fantastical time travel remains fiction, there's an equally powerful journey awaiting us: Harnessing the potential of the present moment. Unlike the DeLorean, we can't zoom through time, but we can lead through it—seizing the moment to cultivate transformative leadership.
Embrace the Now
In a world consumed by calendars and commitments, living for the weekend or future endeavors has become commonplace. Phrases like "I just gotta get through this week..." or "Thank God it's Friday!" are common refrains. But what happens when we spend so much time longing for the future that we miss the majority of our lives? Or, ruminate on the past breeding regret, guilt, and other negative emotions?
The Challenge of Now
The renowned Eckhart Tolle, in his book The Power of Now, astutely observes how we often treat the present as an obstacle, focusing on escaping it rather than embracing it. We do that in so many ways: Social media, streaming, meetings, and busyness that is neither urgent nor important. Yet, as Alice Morse Earle reminds us, the present is a gift—a realm where life unfolds. So, why not utilize this gift to fuel our leadership journey?
Seizing Your Leadership Power
Leadership isn't about worrying about the future or dwelling on the past. Certainly, we learn from the past to inform our present, current state. And, we plan and strategize for the future. And, what should be guiding that? Our foundation of purpose, leadership philosophy, and core values that are connected to our team's and organization's mission, values, and goals. That foundation gives us laser focus in this moment.
Leadership is about maximizing the power of the present—engaging with each moment fully and authentically with clear, purpose-driven leadership. Leaders who prioritize a purpose-driven present foster an environment of innovation, empathy, and effective decision-making. Their influence isn't limited to past accomplishments or future aspirations; it thrives in the here and now.
If want to learn how to develop, articulate, and leverage your own leadership philosophy and core values, check this developmental experience out: Leading WITH Meaning & Purpose.
Unveiling Leadership Development
Unlocking your leadership potential isn't about gazing into a crystal ball. It's about creating and influencing the present based on purpose, principles, values, and goals using self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and empathy. These traits form the bedrock of impactful leadership, shaping the future by embracing the current.
In Leo Tolstoy's short story, The Three Questions, he imparts wisdom about the power of now:
Remember then: There is only one time that is important—Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power.
This insight is transformative. Our strength lies in the present, influencing ourselves and those we lead.
Walking the Journey
Living in the present doesn't negate learning from the past or planning for the future. However, when our minds are predominantly anchored in these temporal extremities, the present becomes an obstacle. We risk missing both dangers and joys that surround us. The key is to navigate the present moment while respecting our life's purpose and principles.
The Step that Counts
Think of life as a journey of a thousand miles—a series of nows. Lao Tzu's words, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step," remind us that this step is where our influence resides.
We've all seen that quote before and although this quote is usually used as encouragement for someone who is about to begin a major project or life mission, when you read the full 64th verse of the Tao Te Ching where it comes from, it is apparent that Lao Tzu is giving us far more wisdom than just a kick-off spurt of encouragement.
Later in the verse he said:
People usually fail when they are on the verge of success. So give as much care at the end as at the beginning, then there will be no failure.
It is through attentiveness to each and every step, each now, from beginning to end, that we achieve success and a fully-lived life.
Eckart Tolle dismantles the notion of time's hold over us, emphasizing that the present is our only reality. "The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now." Now is where life unfolds; it is our canvas for leadership.
Mastering the Now
Being present isn't a rejection of past or future; it's the art of engaging with the moment wholly. In this state, we tend to our own needs, serve others with full attention, and exercise conscious leadership. With mindfulness as our guide, we can lead our teams, organizations, and lives more effectively.
In the symphony of time, the present is our solo. As leaders, it's where our power resides—the ability to influence ourselves and others. Let's heed the wisdom of Tolstoy, Lao Tzu, and Tolle, acknowledging that every moment is a chance to shape our leadership journey. Don't merely live; lead, in the now.
Your leadership journey starts with the present.
Download a complimentary copy of Tolstoy's timeless short story, The Three Questions, below (in the public domain). Immerse yourself in its wisdom and explore the dimensions of presence and leadership. Elevate the experience by listening to the captivating audio version on YouTube while you read along.
Download: The Three Questions
By Leo Tolstoy
Enjoy this amazing and profound story originally written in 1885. Find out the answers to the three most important questions in life:
I had trouble getting the YouTube audio/video to play on my web browser. If you do too, just click the "Watch on YouTube" and it should play fine.
Have an amazing journey today!
Alan Mikolaj is a coach and leadership development consultant with 15+ years of experience. He is passionate about helping leaders transform their leadership, their teams, and their organizations. Impactful, professional approach driven by a passion for meaning and purpose, a growth mindset, and a commitment to excellence and service in order to drive change and results.
Alan maintains the ethics and standards of behavior established by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), including the standards regarding confidentiality. You can learn more about them on the ICF website.
Transformational change starts with a conversation!
Alan is on a mission to partner with like-minded leaders who want to make a positive difference in the world.
Schedule your free, one-hour session by clicking here: Discovery Conversation with Alan
Or call or email me: Contact Page
Alan Mikolaj is a a professional, experienced, positive, and passionate speaker, leadership and organizational development consultant, change agent, author, and coach. He holds his Master of Arts degree in Clinical Psychology from Sam Houston State University. He is a certified graduate coach from Coaching Out of the Box and holds his ACC and membership with the International Coaching Federation (ICF).
Free Discovery Conversation!
Impactful change starts with a conversation! Schedule your free, one-hour session by clicking here: Discovery Conversation with Alan
Or call or email: Contact Page
In his third book, A Travel Guide to Leadership, Alan offers you simple, fundamental, and powerful lessons that have the power to transform you, your relationships, and your career.