I realized when you look at your mother, you are looking at the purest love you will ever know.
When we stop and think about it, we know that there are many variations and depths to love. The problem is that the word love can mean so many things.
As Dr. Peck said in his timeless classic, The Road Less Traveled:
…our use of the word ‘love’ is so generalized and unspecific as to severely interfere with our understanding of love.
I couldn’t agree more.
Our culture tends to overemphasize and focus on romantic or passionate love—to the point that it has become idealized and idolized into a cultural myth. We seem to have lost the word love from wider and more practical conversations about our lives beyond romantic love, our work, governing, and leadership.
When it comes to personal and professional development, life mission, career, work, and being a leader, it seems that love is put to the side—and it may be due in part to the ambiguity when the word love is mentioned. We don’t want to take the risk of being misunderstood; that we are not talking about a weak and sentimental feeling, but something more powerful that requires great awareness, courage, choice, discipline, and action.
Love & Leadership
And yet, if there is one principal quality of great leaders that our inquiry should focus on, it is love.
Some of the most influential leaders in human history were models and messengers of love: Buddha, Confucius, Mahatma Gandhi, Jesus of Nazareth, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, John Woolman (American Quaker and abolitionist), and Lao Tzu, to name only a few.
The most powerful relationships we have in our lives are with those people who lead us and with those whom we lead—in which leadership is a central element of the relationship: Parent-child, friendships, spousal, teacher-student, coach-player, boss-employee. It is relationships like these that have the most influence in our lives and where the lessons of love and life are cultivated.
Love can seem mysterious and enigmatic and it may seem like it's not easy to measure or put on an MBO, spreadsheet, report, or SMART goal worksheet.
However, Robert Holden, PhD, author of the Success Intelligence, challenges us:
If your definition of success has little or no measure of love in it, get another definition.
He wrote that to the seeker of success and happiness as part of the process of developing a life mission and setting goals.
It may seem difficult to quantify or measure love in its entirety, but we can operationalize its elements and measure those. If we assume love is not only an emotion or emotional, then we allow for behaviors that can be measured.
How about starting with one of the fundamental elements of love? Paying attention. Put that phone down, or better yet, put it on silent mode and put it away and out of sight, and look at the person talking to you with curiosity.
When speaking on love and the work of attention, Dr. Peck wrote:
Attention is an act of will, of work against the inertia of our own minds.
And when we follow paying attention with listening with curiosity and to truly understand the other, we are choosing to work—to act—against the inertia and automatic mental processes and instead show love.
Love may difficult to define and may be more difficult to give—and yet it is absolutely necessary for the successful and masterful leader of our times.
Happy Mother's Day!
So, on this Mother's Day, I celebrate love and loving leadership, especially the love from our mothers—some of the most powerful and influential leaders in the world! So, thank you to my Princess Leah! You are such an amazing mother and partner!
And here, I would like to make a great, big shout-out to my mother! From when I was at the young age of about 3 or 4-years old, she did not ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up. No, she asked me, "Alan, what's your vocation?" That has had the most profound and meaningful impact on who I am, what I do, and why I do it. Thank you, Mom!
Leading (and Living) With Meaning & Purpose
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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!
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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.