Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise we harden.
The purpose of today’s blog is to explore the third and final sequence of Actualized Leaders, Renewal. Each sequence contains a unique cognitive, emotional, and behavioral element that drives optimal performance. When these unique elements are developed and enhanced, the individual is more effective in activating the specific sequence. Our focus today will be on Renewal, the sequence that provides not only the support for the other attributes of Actualized Leaders, but also the sustainment for any optimal human endeavor.
A common symbol for Renewal is a rainbow. Whether viewed from the perspective of God’s promise to never flood the earth again, or from a more natural perspective of the interplay between sunlight and moisture after a storm, the image conjures the notion of something new and fresh. “Renewal” is defined as follows: to make like new; restore to freshness, vigor, or perfection. From a human performance perspective, it represents a space or “sacred pause” from activity and engagement to allow for rest and reflection. It is within the Renewal Sequence where we not only learn about ourselves and others, it is where we reflect, reconnect, and recharge so that we are ready to face another day’s challenge with vigor, creativity, and passion.
The Renewal Sequence
In order to better understand the Renewal Sequence, it is important to understand the three elements that drive this sequence, and they follow: Cognitive: Optimal Time Orientation (OTO); Emotional: Acceptance; and Behavioral: Solitude.
The Renewal Sequence starts with being mindful in the present moment, what I refer to as having Optimal Time Orientation or OTO. Giving ourselves the gift of this moment, without focusing on past regrets or anxiety for the future, and without distraction from “smart” phones or social media, is a powerful shift that is critical for performance. When we allow ourselves to be present, we not only experience OTO, we also create the necessary conditions for renewal, rest, and regeneration.
Following OTO is the Emotional Attribute of Acceptance. It has been argued that Acceptance, what Tara Brach refers to as “radical acceptance,” is perhaps the greatest gift you can give yourself. Maslow argued the same point. Accepting yourself, flaws and all, allows you to experience true inner peace and tranquility. Carl Jung pupil Isabel Briggs Myers (co-creator of the MBTI) stated that the most well-adjusted people are those who are “glad to be what they are, or are psychologically patriotic.” That’s a very powerful notion; are you loyal to yourself and your true nature, or do you commit treason against yourself everyday by disavowing your nature and resisting self-acceptance?
Finally, from thinking and feeling with OTO and Acceptance comes the behavioral outcome of Solitude, which triggers personal Renewal. Solitude refers to an intentional state of being alone that facilitates reflection, relaxation, and planning. Although it may be commonly thought of as something negative and to be avoided at all costs in our hyperconnected and extreme-extroverted world, it is crucial for our ongoing growth and development. In her book “Introvert Power,” Dr. Laurie Helgoe reminds us that while we are bombarded from a very early age to develop social skills, we as a society are woefully inadequate at fostering “solitude skills” where we learn to create and protect personal boundaries, foster creativity, and nurture the life of the mind.
Developing the Renewal Sequence
Are you burned out, always tired or feeling stuck? If so, I can promise you that working harder or faster will not remedy your situation. However, if you willing to pause, disconnect, and reflect, you will open yourself up to the creativity and passion that can and often does come from Renewal. And just like with the other Sequences there are specific steps you can take to develop and enhance your Renewal Sequence.
- Review the earlier BLOG on OTO. They say the best things in life are free; do you consistently give yourself the gift of this moment, or are you too busy feeling guilty about yesterday or worrying about tomorrow?
- Review the earlier BLOG on Acceptance. Where do you currently fall on the political spectrum when it comes to accepting yourself? Are you a patriot who honors your true nature, or a traitor who betrays it?
- Review the earlier BLOG on Solitude. Do you embrace time alone to relax, imagine, and renew, or do you do your best to avoid yourself in that quiet, still space? While it’s true that you may find yourself in the service of others, it is also true that you can only connect to your passion and purpose, and to Renewal, only when you are alone.
The concept of Renewal was perhaps most famously illustrated by Stephen Covey’s concept of “Sharpening the Saw” in his classic “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” The general notion is that in order to be more effective, and ultimately more satisfied and happy, we have to occasionally step off the treadmill of our hectic day-to-day activities in order to pause and reflect, or to “sharpen the saw,” as it were. When we are willing to develop the three attributes of the Renewal Sequence we not only recharge and refresh ourselves, we are better able to connect (or reconnect) with our passion and purpose. And it is within the sacred pause that we also create the space for something else very powerful to occur – the personal transformation that often accompanies mindful self-acceptance and connecting to a sense of purpose that is greater than ourselves, including our worries and regrets.