Life QuestThe Tracking Wonder #Quest2015 led by Jeffrey Davis moves forward. Questions of what will make joy a sacred priority, what choices and actions will we live by, and what authentic stuff we will unload and use again created space to consider what it will take to make the most out of the new year ahead. Grateful to Sunni Brown, Todd Henry, and Eric Klein for the thought-provoking questions.

Peace and Joy

Joy speaks of peace. Peace in mind. Peace in work. Peace in soul. Joy centers me in knowing I am doing more than just doing; I am mattering in what I do by what I see and hear from the community around me.

Getting this right is challenging. Making joy a sacred priority will produce drops of sweat at a higher proportion than tears of challenges. Joy takes work. Although that seems counter-intuitive, it is true. (tweet this) Selecting the work that bring me joy takes a conscious effort and a staring focus. When it all comes together though, joy flows. I believe this is what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi meant.

So, the year ahead, how will I carve out space to make joy a sacred priority? I will do it with effort that matters, working on purpose, and doing the things that bring me peace and smiles to the eyes around me.

Choices and Actions

Our life story is written based on our choices and actions. Period.

Words provide a thought, a direction. The reality of our life is in our choices and actions.

Words are just on a page or a script waiting to be picked up and put into action. We can pick our words to inspire our own action and that of others. However, if we don’t make choices consistent with the words and take actions to follow through on our words, we live a hollow life. For leaders, it is worse. If this consistency between words, choices, and actions is absent, we lead others to frustration, doubt, and misery.

The challenge is in making the choices and taking the actions that position us and others for joyful work, a life fulfilled, and whole-hearted leadership.

Shadows and Courage

Our shadow bag contains those items we eliminate from ourselves so we fit in with someone else’s expectations. Our life is filled with others, isn’t it? We have family, and family multiplies over time. We have the one we are born into, the one we join in partnership with, and the one we create. Many, many expectations crowd in.

Add in our workplace and our communities and expectations swell. We have the real danger of losing who we really are within all the expectations. Whose life do we end up living? Whose leadership practices do we end up exemplifying?

Worse. We become alone with ourselves. We retreat to our small office or square cubicle. We wall ourselves into separate rooms in our homes.

And then we finally awake to the fact that we cannot live or lead like this any longer. We have conversations with our family. We have conversations with our workplace leaders. We plant the seeds of our return to our authentic self.

Yet, there is a danger in our perception of what our authentic self is. We cannot do what we want without regard to others or to ourself. We cannot alienate everyone who is present, especially those who are working to be supportive of our mission. Empathy again raises its hand to be recognized as a way forward. With empathy, we listen, learn, and gain strength in who we are and how we work in larger communities, families, and workplace cultures.

Within our shadow bag, a tug of war erupts. How do we unload? How do we sort it out? How do we live and lead authentically? How do I?

Welcome to the messiness of life… again.

Clearing clutter begins with a definition. The first week of the Life Quest brought this front and center, and it re-appears here. Definition begins with understanding what I believe and how I want to live and lead. Just as a recipe defines what is needed within the mix, our authenticity begins with clear ingredients of what we want inside and out.

Accountability then knocks on our door. Do our choices match our defined way to life and lead? Do our actions empower our words? We need to keep ourselves in check along with key individuals within our communities.

We are vulnerable throughout. Although vulnerability is the new watch word, we need to be careful to not load up on this and drag vulnerability along when it messes with our authenticity. Courage is still in the mix. We need to have the courage to make the choices and take the actions to keep ourselves authentic.

Courage is tough. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be courage. Cowards are what we become instead. (tweet this)

Bringing Peace, Choices, Actions, and Courage Together

What will bring the best within me? The courage to embrace joy as a way to live, lead, and work. The courage to make the tough choices and take the necessary actions to stay true to self. The courage to hold myself accountable to the best person and leader I can be. The courage to smile in the embrace of others while embracing my own dreams.

We cannot afford to become cowards in our own life. I cannot.

Joy will be the knock on my soul, letting me know when my choices and actions are working right. In joy, there is peace.

Courage will keep me honest and give me backbone strength. In courage, there is authenticity.

What will bring you joy and courage in the year ahead? What practices will you engage to keep both?