The Lone Leader Weekly

14th Dec 2022

F**k failure. You’re doing fine.

Small wins are as important as big wins.

#1. Look for moments of meaning.

A kind looks from your child, a smile from a stranger, saying no with kindness – these are the things that refill our bucket and give us the fuel to carry on.

Don’t just look with your eyes; allow them to happen.

#2. Strong roots in strong winds.

We only fall when our foundations are weak.

Create a solid foundation of ‘why’, then build from that. When the wind blows, it allows you to twist and bend but not to break.

Our foundations create resilience; after all, we know the winds will come again.

#3. Embrace failure as learning.

The moment we change the word from failure to learning, we grow.

The more we use our foundation to push the boundaries, the more we risk failure, and we also encourage success.

At the ripe old age of 42, but with a hairline of a bald 60yr old, I find myself pondering life just a little more than when I was in my 30s. None more than in 2022.

The great year of recovery, discovery and despair.

What is most interesting to me is how predictable we are as a species. In that, we almost universally require chaos to change our lives significantly.

How often have you read the story of the miracle weight loss, a change of career or the need to sit on a mountaintop and find yourself?

But why?

We live in the most prosperous times in human history; we have untold computing power in our hands, a global community that is but a click away and, ultimately, the concept of work is more open and fluid than ever.

Yet we are more lost than ever.

Our ability to find meaning and connect is under more pressure, so why, with all this prosperity, do we not find ourselves happier and more fulfilled?

There are two concepts to explore here to unpick it; there is no meaning to anything, and we have no control, or meaning is what we construct to enhance the things that make us happy.

Let’s dig into it – there is no meaning.

It’s all a construct; we are just meat jackets like any other species trying to survive.

The challenge with that approach is that we are designed to find meaning.

Otherwise, why would you be so emotionally responsive to acts of love and kindness?

Why are we moved by a beautiful sunset every single time?

Why do we cry at a sad movie?

Why do we get angry when we don’t achieve a goal?

Ok, let’s be clear, this is a super biased article, as I believe deeply that life is full of meaning, so I’m going to focus on that.

The nuance of meaning is that we must be clear on what something means.

What holds meaning to me does not have to mean something to you.

One great example is a year-long conversation with a client who is a practising Christian. On the other hand, I am an atheist, but I believe in the universe’s energy at an atomic level.

Things happen for a reason.

The beauty of this relationship is that we both believe in something that brings meaning to our lives.

We can use these belief systems to construct a positive view of the world that enriches our lives.

The most beautiful thing about our differences is that we ultimately believe in many of the same things.

There is something much bigger than ourselves at play; a robust set of values creates a framework for your behaviour, and the most important thing is a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

So why is meaning so important?

Recently I have been discussing and exploring the concept of leaving a legacy when you are gone. As many of you know, I had my brush with mortality this year, and there is no doubt that I questioned my impact on the world.

But this is where things get a little weird.

I have always feared death.

And I have seen a fair bit of it in my time.

Beyond the practicalities – will my wife and daughter be ok. Well, the insurance is in place, we have a will, and life will go on.

All very simple.

But here is the kicker. We plan so much for when we have gone we lose sight of the impact we can have while we still walk this earth.

Suppose you sit where I do when it comes to belief. When we are gone, we are gone. We are memories.

Yes, what we do while alive will live on – our traits, our trail of destruction or the thing we built.

But here’s where I want to explore something a little different.

Live like your legacy won’t live on.

Action, live and feel like you are only around for today. Then do it again tomorrow and the next day if they come.

I’m not talking about jumping out of planes a la The Bucket List.

It’s much, much more straightforward.

No matter the construct of your life, go to bed at night knowing the following:

You were connected today. With the world. With a loved one. With nature.

You said no to the things that don’t move you.

You said yes to the things that inspire you.

You moved. Slowly or quickly.

You made a positive impact, no matter how small.

You allowed the day to flow instead of being dragged.

These, for me, are the lessons I learned from a period when the potential for me no longer to walk this earth had a light shined on it.

While meaning may be a construct, the rules above allow me to no longer fear death but to be more conscious and aware of the legacy I am trying to live.

As lone leaders, we often feel like we are against a tidal wave daily.

But if we sit on the beach and observe the waves rolling in, we can find calm, meaning and hopefully a little happiness.

The uncomfortable reality is that our lives are a speck of dust in time and that we may as well enjoy the ride.

Until next time. Live now. Not later.


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