Love, leadership and the search for meaning

There are no easy days in leadership. Every day asks for our best. Every day we sit poised to uplift and deliver, or stumble and sink. To show up every day is a call for courage, an exercise in persistence. Three fundamental questions can help shine light on an uncertain path. Read on, dear leader.

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There are no easy days in leadership. Every day asks for our best. Every day we sit poised to uplift and deliver, or stumble and sink. To show up every day is a call for courage, an exercise in persistence.

In our Amplifiers leadership group, we’re reading Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. It’s the meditation on life’s purpose through the memoir of his time as a prisoner in Auschwitz. It’s a harrowing tale of man’s capacity for cruelty, alongside man’s ability to find meaning in the most bleak and bitter of circumstances.

It’s a sobering and heart-wrenching journey. Through his experience, Frankl suggests there are three ways to find meaning:

  1. Love
  2. Purposeful work
  3. Focus and courage

To feel love and care for another living being gives our life purpose. It helps us endure our own difficult circumstances. There is joy in caring for others, in making someone else’s experience a bit better. When we have little, and share it with someone who has less, we are both richer for it.

Work that makes a positive impact is another expression of love. It helps us channel our creative expression and shapes our daily choices. Work that we care about is sustaining for us.

One of the more famous quotes from the book is Frankl’s assertion:

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

When the world around us not only seems dark, but is truly horrifying, the courage to find meaning in our suffering, the courage to act with a strong moral compass when it would be easier to default to animal self-protection, this gives us a path to walk. If there was nothing left for us but to be a better expression of goodness, beauty, and truth, then the courage to live this is meaning enough.

Three fundamental questions can help shine light on an uncertain path. 

  1. Love: “How can I show and express more love in the world?”
  2. Courage: The question is not, “Am I up to the task?” but instead, “How can I rise to meet the task at hand?”
  3. Focus: “When all else is gone, what beauty and goodness can I see in the smallest of moments?”

Victor Frankl’s book is a love letter for humanity. What other books can you recommend that are uplifting? How have you lived these words on your own path?

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