An unputdownable lesson in personal leadership: “Focus only on what you can never regain!”

There’s no point in clinging on to what you can always get back. Focus instead on what is most valuable to you and which you can never regain.
Rajeswari: brilliant and simple leadership wisdom
At a workshop we led earlier in the week, a young manager Rajeswari shared an unputdownable lesson in leadership. She said: “Leadership was thrust on me when I was barely 12. I had no idea back then what the world was all about nor did I know that you needed to demonstrate personal leadership to survive out here. I have been raised by my mother who is a single parent. Several traumatic circumstances in my family forced me to take a decision when I was 12 – was I going to spend the rest of my Life fighting over family wealth and property that was legitimately due to me or was I going to spend quality time with my mother? I chose the latter. My reasoning was that money can always be made. I reckoned that my mother and I may not always be there together. It’s been hard clawing my way through and climbing up in Life, but being able to be with my mother has made all the difference. I have no regrets.”
Young Rajeswari’s wisdom is both brilliant and simple. She reminds us to take our lives more seriously. Often times we are subconsciously prioritizing people and things that don’t matter over people (and things) that matter to us. And almost always we put ourselves last. Nothing wrong with being selfless. But being selfless at the cost of your inner peace and happiness is not quite an intelligent thing to do.
Personal leadership is critical to living intelligently. It requires that you understand what is more valuable to you, what gives you happiness and it requires your focusing onlyon it. Money can always be made. Things can always be bought or replaced. But people and Life’s many “liveable” moments, those that matter, are irreplaceable once they are gone.

Rajeswari had the intuitive common sense to decide in favor of what was really important to her than sweat over what appeared to be important. Perhaps you may want to borrow her principle and try applying it in your own Life. I believe it will definitely be worth the effort, time and opportunity! And then some day, like her, you too will not have any regrets!

Learn to love yourself

There will be times in Life when the world will convince you that you are a parasite. That you are good-for-nothing. That you are a burden on your immediate family, society and perhaps the planet. People will opinionate, judge you and condemn you. You will find everyone difficult to deal with because people have either formed their opinions or they have no time for you. Either way no one wants to have anything to do with you. In their eyes, you have either failed financially, morally, emotionally or physically. The truth may be different. You may have a story to say. But no one’s listening.

Learn, through such times, and in such moments, to first love yourself. Understand that Life destroys nobody. Life has given you the opportunity and experience of this lifetime. What you are faced with is a part of your own Life’s design. Good or bad, in Life’s parlance an experience is an experience. You label it good or bad basis your definitions of what you want and what you don’t. Your acceptance delivers you joy and your resistance brings you grief. So, if you peel off your responses to an experience, you can detach yourself further from it. Then irrespective of what is happening to you, you remain untouched. When you are so insulated, it is possible to value yourself, love yourself and celebrate yourself, no matter what people say about you and what you are faced with!

The reason why such a simple learning doesn’t easily get understood is because of our conditioning. Over years, you__and I__have been told that how the world views you is important to your survival in society. Right from clothing ourselves to getting good grades through school, to impressing people around us in our teens to work titles on our business cards to flaunting our class of travel, we have become masters of living for the world. There is a bizarre selflessness that governs our existence. But what is the point in being selfless, and living for others, when you are all the time grieving that you are not being yourself and are not able to live the Life that you really want to?

I learned this lesson the hard way. Only after I had wasted much of my early years trying to please many people, working towards being seen as someone ‘nice, good and honorable’. Then, through a series of events, and experiences, I learned that those who seek honesty from others hardly practice it themselves. That to condemn those in distress is sometimes a ruthless pastime that the worthless and insensitive indulge in. I discovered that what other people say or do, about your Life, does not__and should not__make a difference to the way you think, live and work__as long as you are true to yourself. I concluded that in trying to live your Life by someone else’s rules, you are actually punishing yourself.

To be sure, you have not been created to be punished. The purpose of your creation is to enjoy this experience, to be happy, to celebrate, to live. So, don’t try to please others by living a Life for them while dying every minute yourself. Love the Life that you have been given. Begin by loving yourself.

Understand who you are – Know that you are not this body, not your physical assets, not your educational qualifications, not your bank balance, your business title or your achievements, records or feats. So, if you have lost all of them, you have lost nothing. Because you came with nothing. So losing what you never came with, and what you will never go with, is losing nothing! You are above all these material markers. You are the Universal energy that’s powering you and keeping you alive.

Understand that Life is the only God – A lot of your Life’s situations get confounded when you begin to yearn for a savior to come and extricate you from your abyss. The truth is there is no savior. You have to save yourself by applying your common sense. That common sense should tell you that since you are alive, and are being powered by the Universal energy, you have the only God that there is, which is Life, in you!

Understand that unless you live, you can’t do much to change the world – You surely do have dreams. And you dream of leaving the world a better place than you found it. No, you may not want to change the world the way a Gandhi or Mother Teresa did. But your own little world, your family, you do want to have impacted positively in your lifetime. And that you can do only when you survive. Or to use an aviation analogy, you can help others only if you first wear the oxygen mask on yourself!

Despite all the abundance around us, people have stopped counting their blessings. Instead they wallow in their, often self-inflicted, miseries. By giving too much credence to what people have to say about you, you are only allowing yourself to be drowned in that sea of hopelessness and scarcity. Instead break free. Love yourself. Remember this: Life needs you to fulfill your Life’s purpose. That’s why you have been created! When you steel yourself against the depressive sentiments that sometimes the world may heap on you, you will find the ability, the energy, and the opportunity to heal and make a difference__surely, as long as you are alive and, at times, long after you are gone! As Oscar Wilde (1854~1900) has said, “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”