Break the Cycle

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History has been on my mind this past week with death of Queen Elizabeth II and the anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution. 

In her first televised address, Queen Elizabeth II said, “Today things are very different. I cannot lead you into battle, I do not give you laws or administer justice but I can do something else I can give you my heart and my devotion to these old islands and to all the peoples of our brotherhood of nations.” And she did. For over 70 years, she showed up as a leader who “learned” in public, owning her missteps, taking in new information, and adapting as times changed. For me, she is a shining example of a servant leader. 

Benjamin Franklin noted after finishing work on the Constitution, “For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged, by better information or fuller consideration, to change opinions, even on important subjects, which I once thought right but found to be otherwise.” 

Both Queen Elizabeth II and Benjamin Franklin understood that the world around us is ever-changing. While we, as humans, seek certainty and simplicity, the world is much more complex than we allow. We expand our impact as leaders when we broaden our capacity for new information, release “set” ideas, accept responsibility, and take appropriate action.

It’s not always easy. We all carry the baggage of what we know for sure. And it sometimes stifles opportunities for what can be. 

It is time to break the cycle and choose to explore ideas that don’t mesh with yours. This may not change your mind, but it will expand your thinking.

This Week’s Challenge: Consider what you want for your legacy. If only one thing survives you, what would you want it to be? Now, think about what it would take to have that happen. It may seem overwhelming with your current resources. Imagine how someone else who isn’t in your circle might approach it … or better yet, ask someone. If this is a bridge too far right now, try this simple exercise throughout the week. Pick up a common object (e.g., a pencil) and brainstorm other uses for it. A bridge for an ant army? A stake for a plant? Use your imagination – it’s not bound by what is.

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