Nurture Your Self as Part of a Personal Leadership Development Plan

Is your soul hungry?

Perhaps it’s time for a personal leadership development plan to nurture you.
A feeling of longing, a sense of a vacuum, or awareness of emptiness is sometimes a call to feed your soul.  By finding ways to nurture these places of desire – you can both grow as a person and nurture your soul in the process.

Is your soul hungry? If you sense it might be; it may be time for some self-defined nurturing.

Knowing what will nurture your soul can be customized to you; after all, you are uniquely you, with the personal needs and life experiences that are yours alone.

That is why soul-nurturing is so much a pursuit of personal fulfillment.

What I hope you to take away from this article is – it is you, and your own unique  inner voice that will be your best guide as to how to nurture your soul.  Think of things like what would pamper you, what would nourish you and what might make you feel most vital.

Here are seven more generalized ways to nurture your soul:

#1 Nurture your body
I suggest your own personal needs lead the way for what you do.   Ask your body what it really needs.   Is it a stretch? A swim? A singing class? A walk? A dance? A rest?  Why not trust your intution a little on this one – your body can be it’s your greatest teacher.  Your body is abundant in the way it gives to you  – think too about how you can nurture it.

#2 Nurture your vision
There is a popular saying “What you see is what you get“.   If you wish to attract new thing into your life, having a vision is key. Vision can be anything from a vivid mental image of what you desire, to a hope for mankind, your neighbor or yourself. Take a little time to dream, to imagine and to create a clear vision for yourself.  You will find it nurturing to both yourself and your ability to contribute more as a personal leader.

The opportunity for growth here is to nurture how you see.  There is a subtle sense, a subtle aliveness that gets elevated when you vision in a way that brings the future into the present.

For example:

  • When you see the perfection in EVERYTHING in effect you are one with that thing – and connection is nurturing.
  • When you make decisions from crystal clear clarity – you have seen all the possible consequences both positive and limiting – this awareness is nurturing.
  •  When you are inspired by a day dream or a meditation – you are seeing new possibilities – those choices are nurturing.

Again, what you choose to do and how you vision will be unique to your preferences and needs.
It might be rehearsing your vision of your goal, or dreaming, or meditating.  It could be writing, journaling, doing self inquiries (asking yourself questions) or just using your creativity in some way.

#3 Nurture your creativity
Create a balance of energy and rest in your day.  Be disciplined and playful. Be responsible and be free.   Dance between imagination and fantasy. Be independent yet aware of your interdependence. Be humble yet self honouring. Be passionate and still objective.  Be sensitive and open and more than anything else – be inspiring and self inspired.

Creativity is a lot about increasing the ability to be flexible in response to what is going on in the moment.  It is the dance from one perspective to another and one state of being to another which can bring you the most creativity.

You can express your creative self in so many ways. It’s just a matter of finding the things that will bring you joy and nurturing.  The idea is to find the activity that you intuit will feed and nourish you.

I encourage asking your inner self what creative nurturing it needs.   Your inner self – is a creative part – and can come up with many different ways to get your creative needs met…even if you don’t yet think of yourself as creative.

#4 Nurture your intuition
The benefits of nurturing your intuition are plentiful; everything from prioritizing to protecting safety, to finding joy, to accelerating your sense of “knowing”.   A by product is that you get to move forward with greater certainty.

Raise awareness of your own intuition and set an intention to engage with it.  In North American culture we are often taught not to pay attention to our intuition – and even taught to “ignore” it.   It just takes a little practice to again re-engage with your intuitive gifts.

Here are three insights into how to nurture your intuition:

  • Be open to receiving
    Whether it would be open to receiving visions, inklings, or gut reactions.  The idea is to be open to how your inner self communicates with you.
  • Be quiet enough
    One of the best ways to be open to receiving messages from your inner self is through some type of meditation or practice, or sitting quietly, or going to a library where there are lots of people, or even just walking around a park  with a consistent pace and practicing mindful listening. Being quiet  means having enough mindfulness to be able to pick up on the subtle mind-body messages that come forward from your intuition. What’s one of the best ways to quiet things down? Close your eyes.  When you close off the mechanism of seeing – you can cut out a very high percentage of distractions.
  • Be courageous enough
    One of the things that truly make intuition valuable in this world is having the courage to share it.  When you have the courage to express it – you can be of great service in this world.  When sharing your intuitions, do it lightly with out attachment – you will find you are more likely to engage your intuition frequently this way.  You will also find you will be in a more responsive place if someone is “surprised”  by what you share.

Underneath these three insights – is the understanding that when you are open, quiet and courageous – you are also welcoming the opportunity to embrace more of your felt senses.

#5 Nurture yourself in nature
Nature has many gifts in the forms of metaphoric lessons to help us nurture ourselves.    By giving yourself time in nature, in what ever form that fits your personal needs – just by the act of witnessing and engaging with the environment; you can find nourishment.

For example, the metaphor of the four seasons could teach us there are times for growth and times for rest.  Do you need rest to nurture you? Or is time to plant some seeds for growth?

In nature, there are many metaphors that represent things like going with the flow, embracing change, being in the present moment, having an adventure – all things that can be very nurturing.

Practice paying attention to nature – and see what nurtures you.

#6 Nurture love
When you are filled with love, there is a lot of nurturing activity going on.

Filling your heart with love – is an act of self-compassion.  It improves your capacity for faith and self-trust.  It allows you to respond to things vs. react to things.  It allows for greater appreciation, greater connection, more play and more joy.

Loving the things you are doing is another way to bring in nurturing love.  When you nurture your natural talents and gifts you strengthen your mental clarity and your personal mastery.  Both – very nurturing things.

When you see people, places or things – through a perspective of love – you can better see the beauty that is contained therefore you get a sense of connection to them.

Whether you fill your self up, love what you do, or see things with love –  all have benefit. It’s all up to you.

#7 Nurture your needs
So here we are back talking about needs again. As you have been reading – fulfilling your needs are key to how we nurture ourselves.

Neediness is a quality all human’s share.

There are universal needs that all human need in some proportion distinctive to their own unique nature.  Universal needs are things like feeling loved; having your expression and being heard, feeling connected to a group, and to be seen for your own authenticity.

There also are personal needs, specific to you – that perhaps you have identified through your life experience or genetic make up. Your needs are one of the biggest clues to what will truly nurture you. When you have a need, if you first fill that need, and then begin to fill this need as an automatic practice you can fully engage with the world from a place of greater wholeness.

To identify your own personal needs; a little reflection time will assist you:

Think about times when you felt at your personal best, what need did you meet as you performed at your best?

Then take a polar perspective by thinking of times when you felt tired, bored, stressed, mad or sad.  When you were tired; what would you have needed to feel energized? When you were bored; what would you have needed to feel fully engaged?  When you were stressed; what would have needed to feel calm?  When you were mad or sad; what would you have needed to feel glad or happy?  It is the answers to your self reflective questions that will bring the real clues to your personal needs.

Bottom line  – do spend some time fulfilling your own needs and that process will nurture both your personal growth and your soul.

Self Leadership – Try on New Hats

Try on Career HatsTwo stepping stones of self leadership are getting crystal clarity about the path you will travel and then on who you will be as you travel it. Using play as both a clarity and creativity tool is a great way to explore different possible career paths.

In the book the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, as part of an exercise called “Name Your Dream,” Julia asks you to complete these sentences for yourself:
1. “I would secretly love to be a ______” and,
2. “______ is what I would do for a career if I was being very selfish.”

Questions such as these are crafted to call forth your quiet authentic voice. They are questions to aid you in giving yourself permission to begin to explore what you would do, if you were being a little more “self-full.”

When you begin to give yourself permission to explore what you would do, if you better followed your authentic voice, you access more and more awareness of what would bring you fully alive in a career. Authentic voice exploration also opens you up to your dreams and thinking and acting bigger than you might have done if you hadn’t given yourself such permission.

How many people do you know that just landed in a career rather than crafting a specific A to Z career path? I know I am personally surprised to hear just how many people haven’t crafted a career – or even their ideal hobby for that matter.

I know my story of my earlier career was more of “landing in it”.  A summer job when I was 16 for an airline flight kitchen took me on a 25 year joyful journey in various roles in the travel industry. None of my journey was scripted.

I didn’t create a clear forward path in advance – I just lived my life and opportunities arose – and I just kept on making choices to move myself forward. Now, I got to see a lot of the world and met some absolutely wonderful people and somewhere I realized that life was “living-me” with regards to my career.

In the late 90’s, triggered by a pending organizational merger, I began to open my mind to the possibilities for what could be next for me. I did a few things in combination:  I took career aptitude assessments, picked up all the popular career books at the time, I worked with a coach on my own life’s self expression and meaning and most importantly, I played.

Using the book , the Artist’s Way for inspiration, I played in the sense that I used my dreams, my small little authentic voice and the joint learnings from multiple personal strength assessments to play out different scenarios  and try on different hats in answer to the question “I would secretly love to be a ____”.

My own personal different possible career hats were:

  1. A professional coach
  2. A minister
  3.  A Feldenkrais practitioner
  4. An organizational consultant
  5. A national trainer (skills)

I took one possible career hat each week and scripted out what both my ideal day and typical day would look like.  What kinds of things I would be doing and how I might be feeling.

I took on the mindset of each career, asking myself what I believe and what values I would have in each career.

I imagined the environments I would be working in. Who would be around me, who would I be in relationship with and what would be my deliverables in each of these relationships.

And most importantly I started to do activities that were in alignment with testing out moving forward with any of these careers. I attended workshops, I interviewed people, entertained new ideas and I continued to allow myself to play with the dream of what it would be like to do each of these career paths.

At the end of my five weeks of play, I remembered all my scenarios – and remembered where I felt most alive, most self full, and most in service.

I continue to know without a doubt that I am in a career that is aligned with my personal talents and aliveness. I know this because I tried on the hats and walked in the shoes of the other careers in play.

What have you secretively dreamed about being or doing?  Is it perhaps time to play and try on a few new hats?