Having coached leaders and worked with many teams, the most obvious work needed to overcome is dysfunctionality! This is the work of the soul. It’s that fourth edge of the saw we need to keep sharp. It’s part of the 7th habit of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which Covey refers to as spirituality. It’s the core of emotional intelligence. Our psychological and social well-being are connected to the spiritual. In keeping with Covey’s seven themes, here are my observations of seven things soulfully strong people do well.
1.) They know themselves and accept themselves just as they are including their imperfections. They know they are a bundle of habits, some good some not so good. They acknowledge their weaknesses and let it go. They focus on their strengths, seeking to grow them and live into them. Their strengths are their gifts. They know that to “love their neighbor just as yourself,” they really do have to love themselves! Thus, they have skin in the game of life. They avoid comparing themselves to others and don’t live in wishful thinking. They live into an affair of the heart.
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” – Buddha
2.) While they know themselves, they also are able to forgive themselves. They recognize shame as “I’m not worthy,” and recognize they are worthy even with warts, scars, and imperfections. They see themselves as a work in progress, making mistakes as part of life’s journey, not taking themselves too seriously, forgiving themselves, and asking for forgiveness. By living with this, they are able to forgive others. Thus, they laugh more especially at themselves, and experience the “thin spaces” more fully.
3.) They don’t take things personally. They recognize there is another side to the story that they don’t know. They question the ugly story they begin to create. They avoid climbing the ladder of inference. They recognize what they can control and what they cannot control. They don’t try to change or control other people. Their expectations are realistic, they grow their wisdom and they seek to live in truth.
4.) They work at connecting with others and accepting others just as they are. They suspend judgment and extend curiosity towards others. They know even the least of us is worthy of connection. They live string theory. To-do lists are not nearly as important as to-be lists. To-do is about success. To-be is about significance. They find more joy in being than doing. Being connects back to their purpose in life, to make connections and build bridges.
5.) They live in the now. They work on being mindful and fully present. They acknowledge the past has lessons. The failures of the past are lessons learned. They recognize that who they are at this moment is because of where they have been. The past cannot be changed nor should it be changed. The past is what it is. The future is yet to be determined. No one knows what in is the future.
6.) Gratitude is a state of mind for the soulfully strong. They acknowledge their blessings including the blessing of pain and suffering that has revealed its gifts. They know pain is inevitable but misery is optional. Consequently, their gratitude becomes the font of their happiness. Thanksgiving is a daily occurrence rather than once a year.
7.) They love more and consume less. They recognize love as the greatest force on earth and the arch-rival of fear. Their courage is girded by love. As darkness is the absence of light, as cold is the absence of heat, fear is the absence of love. Thus, their biggest battle is overcoming fear in themselves and helping others to battle their fears.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve got to increase my workouts…soul workouts!
*Originally published November 2013 and updated.