Our most difficult leadership challenge is the 6″ space between our own ears. It’s a mind and mindset game that can feel rigged against us.
Especially when you’re the “continuous improvement” person who is relentless about always trying to be better, think better, be more positive, and optimize your life. Only to feel like you’re chasing smoke.
You know that always being on isn’t the answer, but you never feel quite right when you are off.
You might describe it as the need to be invincible or bulletproof.
Or you might feel like you must be everything to everyone always, continually falling short of impossible expectations.
In his book The Practice of Groundedness, Brad Stulberg describes this as “Heroic Individualism”.
And it’s not a good thing.
Heroic Individualism is an unwinnable, “ongoing game of one-upmanship, against both yourself and others, paired with the limiting belief that measurable achievement is the only arbiter of success.
Even if you do a good job hiding it on the outside, with heroic individualism you chronically feel like you never quite reach the finish line that is lasting fulfillment.”
I felt like Brad was talking to me – and many of my clients too.
He also offers a solution with his Principles of Groundedness:
- Accept where you are to get where you want to go.
- Be present so you can own your attention and energy.
- Be patient and you’ll get there faster.
- Embrace vulnerability to develop genuine strength and confidence.
- Build deep community.
- Move your body to ground your mind.
I love these principles because of their power and simplicity. That doesn’t mean they are easy to implement. But nothing worthwhile is ever easy.
I’ve found #4 – embracing vulnerability – to be the most difficult to implement. Especially in professional cultures where it is viewed as a weakness to be exploited. And that’s what makes it so powerful for breaking the always on cycle of the heroic individualist.
Working on yourself, and your mindset, is not selfish. Quite the opposite. It increases your capacity to live your best life, and be your best for the people who need you the most.
Which of the six principles has been most important to your leadership journey?