Articles
Posted By Ian

Behind the Self-fulfilling Cycle


Setting your leadership scene

This Snapshot encourages you to consider the issues that shape your world-view and thereby your leadership style.

A bigger view

How you view the world directly influences how you experience it which drives the actions you take which, in turn, lead to your next experience: each step a part of a self-fulfilling cycle. Within this uncertain journey, articulating a deliberate and considered leadership style prepares you for whatever comes next and gives you stability when your plans and actions are challenged.

What we can observe

When considering what goes on in the world, several things become apparent –

  1. We are frequently confronted by events that are unexpected in nature, size and timing making it impossible to plan, with certainty, for whatever is coming next, hence the saying ‘Life is what happens while you plan for the future’.
  2. We see unpleasant things happening to people whom we believe do not deserve them (and the other way around).
  3. For very large numbers of people life is brutal – wars, disease, crime, famine, earthquakes, floods and so on.

Gloom or a new view

The above observations portray a rather gloomy state of affairs, one that could reasonably lead you to a point of quiet despair or disengagement. However, you can use them in ways that free you to step back, take stock of what is happening (factually rather than judgementally), shed unhelpful beliefs, set guidelines and develop plans to address what life is offering.

Embracing the unknown

Acknowledging that much of what happens just ‘is’, relieves the question ‘Why me!’ or ‘Why her!’ and reduces the stress arising from what we expect not matching what happens. It also saves the energy-draining need to blame yourself or others while bearing in mind that you still have personal responsibility for the foreseeable consequences of your actions.

Contemplating the capricious aspect of life also increases your empathy by reducing the urge, however well-disguised, to assign blame or opprobrium to the unfortunate circumstances of others.

Dealing with hardship

Faced with extreme hardship and brutality, Viktor Frankl concluded that the only purpose life had to offer was that which he gave it. This was one of the insights that enabled him to survive Auschwitz and go on to live a purposeful, highly productive and celebrated life. He also concluded that a lot of mental distress is related to people not having established a purpose in life, their own purpose, and therefore living in an ‘existential vacuum’.

Notwithstanding that life is brutal for large numbers of people, this is not a reason to give up contributing to a better world otherwise our lives really will have been without purpose.

Establishing a personal reference point

Philosophically, it can be very difficult to make sense of aspects of life and, no matter how you reconcile things in your mind, no matter what you decide, the outcome will always be peculiarly personal. The value of defining this personal reference point is that you prepare yourself to respond to life’s randomness in a thoughtful and principled manner.

Row the Atlantic

Your life is akin to rowing across the Atlantic in a very small boat that, at any moment, could be swamped or sunk by a large wave. To some that journey would appear hopeless, even pointless, but that does not mean that you should stop rowing and steering your boat toward your chosen destination. You will probably arrive in good time and good spirits and when asked ‘Why did you do that?’ your answer as ‘the rower’ will be uniquely yours.

Best wishes for your journey.