Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Are You Leading Your Life?

Ready for the light?
Most of us need an external driver to do something in life. An incentive, a threat, an ultimatum, a desire ... but ultimately a strong reason to initiate something new or different. If you haven't felt the urge to change some aspect of your life recently, I am sure you are aware of someone who has. I just saw this scenario unfold at work. We went through a reorg. If you haven't noticed - reorgs are all the rage these days. So what happened? The usual - some folks got demoted, some got downsized, some had to reapply for their jobs and the rest were kept waiting anxiously about their fate as leadership deliberated.

The interesting observation was not that a reorganization happened (yet again) but what it does to the folks who are affected, both directly or indirectly. In an instant the comfort factor disappears. What you took for granted suddenly becomes very uncertain. Your known world now hangs by a thread. Your future gets decided by entities and criteria you have no idea about. You feel helpless and fragile. At least for a while - till the storm passes and you suddenly find yourself unaffected. You reflect for a moment about your downsized colleagues, resolve to work on your resume and not be in this situation again - and life goes on.

Does this situation sound familiar? Remember the New Year resolutions, the impulsive decision to lose those extra pounds or to reign in spending or to learn about investing or ... Small nudges or events goad us to make halfhearted attempts to correct the course of our lives. Most of these attempts fail because the will to truly make a difference in our lives is lacking. It is a passing fancy, an idle fascination, a stray thought - usually not sustainable. Being creatures of habit - we revert to what we are comfortable with. Intentional change becomes a dream.

And therein lies the difference between living your live or leading a life. The difference is profound. If you lead - you decide and you march to your tune. You seek what you want, when you want and how you want it. You may not control every aspect of your life but you are still in control and make decisions that help you move in the direction you want. When you just meander and let life takes its course - you are at the mercy of external decision makers. You job, your financial well being, you health and your happiness is driven by external events. Events you barely control but that dictate your well being.

Change is inevitable and constant, so finally the question is - do you want to lead your life or be led around? The driver to change is within you, struggling with the lethargy of complacency. Find what you want in life, find your passion, find your drivers and live your life - hopefully at your terms.

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