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Is the Wind at Your Back?

What would your work and your life look like if the wind were at your back?

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Bird soaring in a blue sky

When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.

Marc Aurelius

I had breakfast a few days ago with a colleague who I’ve known for many years. We were talking about our work and our lives, in particular about the challenges, the unknowns, and the struggles.

She shared a practice that she learned from one of her teachers, where, instead of holding onto the assumption that you need to (in some way) struggle at work in order to feel that you’re achieving something, you summon the feeling, and act as though, the wind were at your back. As soon as I heard this, I immediately felt my internal chemistry and my mood shift.

What would your work and your life look like if the wind were at your back?

Try it out. It might be that you try on, perhaps even embody, a realistic optimism of how your plans, visions, and aspirations can unfold.

You might find yourself coming up with creative ways to obtain the resources necessary to take whatever next steps are needed, and/or to develop the support of others.

That doesn’t mean that everything will go your way. There will be issues to address, problems to solve, and even failures along the way. Those things are inevitable. But, with the wind at your back, you’re better equipped to navigate these challenges skillfully, with courage and grit, rather than feeling overwhelmed by them.

I was at Esalen Institute last month teaching a 5-day workshop with my wife Lee. In this workshop, we developed ways to integrate mindfulness into our ability to envision, connect, empower, and collaborate. 

We focused on the practice of loving the work, where “the work” is to cultivate self-awareness, go beyond ourselves, and serve others. I dedicate the first chapter in my book, Seven Practices of a Mindful Leader, to this practice – it’s a powerful exercise; one that can open the door to creativity and insight through radical acceptance of what is while also envisioning what’s possible. (Seeing inner freedom as possible is a core underlying aspect of mindfulness and mindful leadership.)

Ultimately, the point is this: your vision for your work and your life can be truly potent if you’re willing to open to possibility; if you’re prepared to pivot so you find yourself with the wind at your back.

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    People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

    - MARCUS AURELIUS

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