Zeal – A to Z of Self Leadership

Zeal – A to Z of Self Leadership

As we come to the last letter of the A to Z of Self Leadership, it’s only natural for me to choose a powerful attribute like ‘Zeal’. It encompasses many of the attributes I’ve spoken of before.

Very simply, can mean living abundantly, being fully aware, deeply thankful and filled with enthusiasm. It pushes us to incorporate kindness and live a meaningful life. Zeal pushes us to respond to situations and experiences in an authentic, just and courageous manner.

Zeal is what keeps us from becoming jaded – instead we choose to live by our powerful vision for ourselves and do the work we were meant to in this world. When we live in this manner, we begin to be mindful of the richness that this world has to offer.  We live deeply and deliberately.

Today I’m struck by Mary Oliver’s poem ‘Mindful’, which to me speaks so loudly of living a rich and abundant life.

I see or hear
that more or less
kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle
in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for —
to look, to listen…

Let us lead ourselves towards living a life full of zeal!

[Tweet “Whatever you undertake, do it with all the zeal in your makeup.”]

Today I’m on ‘ Z’ of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. My theme is the A to Z of Self Leadership. I’m also undertaking the NaBloPoMo for April – the theme is ‘grow’ and the Ultimate Blog Challenge

Yes – A to Z of Self Leadership

Yes – A to Z of Self Leadership

I’ve talked about the value to self leadership of learning to say ‘No’, but equally important is learning when to say ‘Yes’! And finding that balance is really key to self leadership and consequently your own happiness.

Often we’re waiting for something ‘big’ to happen in our lives. We want it – we long for it. But when it comes our way, do we even recognize what we need to do. Do we realize that all it takes from us might be a simple action, or a big ‘Yes’?

Another of Anthony D’Mello’s stories illustrates this so well:

A devout religious man fell on hard times. So he took to praying in the following fashion: “Lord, remember all the years I served you as best I could, asking for nothing in return. Now that I am old and bankrupt I am going to ask you for a favour for the first time in my life and I am sure you will not say No: allow me to win the lottery.”
Days passed. Then weeks and months. But nothing happened.
Finally, almost driven to despair, he cried out one night, “Why don’t you give me a break, God?”
He suddenly heard the voice of God replying, “Give me a break yourself! Why don’t you buy a lottery ticket?”

Are we buying ourselves those lottery tickets for the big game of Life?

You are in the process of writing your life story, and no good story is without a hero or heroine overcoming their fair share of challenges. In fact, the bigger the challenges, the better the story. Since there are no restrictions and no limits to where you story goes from here, what do you want the next page to say?” ~ Hal Elrod from The Miracle Morning

Action steps:
1. For the next week, spend a few minutes focussing on cultivating a greater openness to receive.
2. During this time say/write : ‘One way life is being good to me right now is……..’ Don’t edit your responses. Let them flow.
3. Once you have written down at least 7 -10 responses.
4. Say ‘Yes’ to all these experiences and for all the goodness to come.




[Tweet “The big question is whether you are going to say a hearty yes to your adventure. “]

Today I’m on ‘Y’ of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. My theme is the A to Z of Self Leadership. I’m also undertaking the NaBloPoMo for April – the theme is ‘grow’ and the Ultimate Blog Challenge

Work – A to Z of Self Leadership

Work – A to Z of Self Leadership

Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. -Rumi

The other day, I saw a request on a Facebook Forum that went something like this : I want to start a business. Please suggest one in which I can make a lot of money fast. My big mouth, or should I say, fast fingers couldn’t resist and I responded that the individual needs to find out what makes her happy and where her interests and passion lay. I wasn’t surprised when she ignored my comment and went on to ask someone who promised her ‘easy money’ for a phone number!

Our relationship with work is very important to our happiness. I have an important question for you. Do you enjoy the time you are away from work very much more than you do the time you are working?

If yes, then perhaps you need to seriously thinking about whether this is the work you are meant to do. I believe that each of us has a deep calling and if our work is not giving us soul satisfaction then may be it’s time to move on to something that does. But could it be something to do with how you are approaching your work, your attitude towards it and what you are putting into or not putting into your work?

Either way, it’s our responsibility to find the work that gives us joy or change our attitude towards work. Remember, this is something you might be doing for the next 20, 30, 40 years and it’s important that your work keeps you engaged and productive.

Action Steps:
Questions we need to ask ourselves:

1. What are my valuable strengths?
2. What is the work that satisfies me at a soul level?
3. What are my weaknessess?
4. How do I learn and work with others?
5. What type of working environment makes me engaged and productive?
6. What holds me back from doing the work I love?

This calls for self awareness and courage, but it’s worth our time, our effort and focus.

Let’s choose to make our work worthwhile!

Put your heart, mind, intellect and soul even to your smallest acts. This is the secret of success. ~Swami Sivananda


[Tweet “The best work doesn’t feel like work. – Alan Cohen”]

Today I’m on ‘W ‘ of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. My theme is the A to Z of Self Leadership. I’m also undertaking the NaBloPoMo for April – the theme is ‘grow’ and the Ultimate Blog Challenge

Vision – A to Z of Self Leadership

Vision – A to Z of Self Leadership

Most of us  attempt to live our lives in reverse. We want to have more things and more money, in order to have the freedom to do what we want and consequently be happier. I’ve learned that we first have to find out who we are really are and do what we need to do to have what we really want.

We are all here for a purpose and it’s so important that we strive to find out what that is. It is important that we take the time to create a vision for the way we want our lives to be. And if we are honest with ourselves and listen to our intuition we will find our vision.

A vision is not just a picture of what could be; it is an appeal to our better selves, a call to become something more. – Rosabeth Moss Kanter

In his book, Leadership From the Inside Out, Kevin Cashman relates the tale of a priest, who was confronted by a soldier while he was walking down a road in pre-revolutionary Russia.
The soldier, aiming his rifle at the priest, commanded, “Who are you? Where are you going? Why are you going there ?”
Unfazed, the priest calmly replied, “How much do they pay you?”
Somewhat surprised, the soldier responded, “Twenty-five kopecks a month.”
The priest paused, and in a deeply thoughtful manner said, “I have a proposal for you. I’ll pay you fifty kopecks each month if you stop me here every day and challenge me to respond to those same three questions.”

I love this story. These three simple questions deserve thought and if we are committed to answering them, we will find our vision.

Action steps:

Over the next few days keep asking yourself these 3 questions. Note down the answers you get. Discern how authenic they are. Write them down. Ask them again. Revise your answers if need be. This is an important process.

• Who are you?

• Where are you going?

• Why are you going there?

Your answers might surprise you. There other ways like creating a vision board, for example, to help you find your vision. Believe me, it’s so worth an investment of your time and effort to find your vision.

Once you’ve found it, hold on to our vision and make it your reality.



[Tweet “Create the highest grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe.”]

Today I’m on ‘V’ of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. My theme is the A to Z of Self Leadership. I’m also undertaking the NaBloPoMo for April – the theme is ‘grow’ and the Ultimate Blog Challenge

Thankful – A to Z of Self Leadership

Thankful – A to Z of Self Leadership

An intrinsic part of self leadership is that we take responsibility for our own happiness. Gratitude is so interlinked with happiness, that any one who wants to be happy, must learn to be thankful. The good news is that we can learn to be thankful. And we can get better at it through practice.

I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude. ~ Brene Brown

Gratitude makes us happy, but we often forget to say thank you. In the midst of life’s challenges and difficulties it seems difficult to be thankful. But as I’ve often said, that’s when it’s most important. For gratitude is what will give us the strength to continue to look for the ‘lessons’ life is teaching us and the ‘messages’ that the Universe is sending us.

Like every good thing, gratitude more than a feeling, is a discipline that we can incorporate into our lives. Having a gratitude practice like writing a gratitude journal, or spending 5 minutes each day in thoughtful thankfulness, or reciting prayers of gratitude at fixed times, can be most useful to make gratitude a habit.

Saying thank you when we see a beautiful sight, have someone do something for us, or when we’re enjoying a moment make for good practice. Also learning to whisper thanks when we’re faced with discomfort – a traffic jam, a long wait in a queue, move us to a more radical approach to gratitude.

[Tweet “A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues.”]



As you might know, Vidya Sury and I have created a Gratitude Circle. We invite bloggers to write at least once a month, recalling all they are grateful for and link it to our Gratitude Circle linky on the third Thursday of every month. Today is the third Thursday of April, so I’m adding the linky here and inviting you to link in with your gratitude posts. The linky will be open right up to next month.

gratitude circle


Today I’m on ‘T ‘ of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. My theme is the A to Z of Self Leadership. I’m also undertaking the NaBloPoMo for April – the theme is ‘grow’ and the Ultimate Blog Challenge

Responsibility – A to Z of Self Leadership

Personal responsibility is a very important part of leading yourself.

The Master told the story of the hotel owner who complained bitterly about the effect on his business of a new highway the government had built.
“Look,” said a friend. “I just don’t understand you. I see a NO VACANCY sign each night in front of your hotel.”
“You can’t go by that. Before they built the highway I used to turn away thirty or forty people each day. Now I never turn away more than twenty-five.”
From Anthony D’Mello’s – One Minute Nonsense

As I look around, I see a tendency for us all to blame other people for our present state. We’re abusive because our parents were abusive. We are averse to learning because our teachers failed at their job. We are reluctant to work because the jobs available are not to our liking. We are unhappy because our partners are very bad at relating! The list goes on…..

Self leadership means that we realize that the buck stops with us. Yes, our circumstances shape us. But at this moment, ours is the choice to make. As Stephen Covey says, we are ‘response-able’.

  • Action steps:
    Think of two ‘problem’ areas in your life just now that are keeping you from being happy.
  • Think of what the causes for these problems are. Do you think they are caused by external circumstances or others?
  • Where will the solutions to these come from? Others? Change in external circumstances?
  • Now use awareness and honesty to notice if you are playing the victim.
  • What can YOU do to change the situation?
  • Write down action steps you will take towards this?
  • Start acting response-ably in these areas.

A sign of wisdom and maturity is when you come to terms with the realization that your decisions cause your rewards and consequences. You are responsible for your life, and your ultimate success depends on the choices you make. – – Denis Waitley, author and coach



[Tweet “The final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”]

Today I’m on ‘R’ of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. My theme is the A to Z of Self Leadership. I’m also undertaking the NaBloPoMo for April – the theme is ‘grow’ and the Ultimate Blog Challenge

Questions – A to Z of Self Leadership

Questions – A to Z of Self Leadership

I’m convinced that the quality of our lives is greatly determined by the questions we ask ourselves. Without asking questions, there can be no awareness of ourselves.

A few days ago, I was at a workshop, where we were asked to answer the question: ‘Who are you?’ That’s a fantastic question to start with. How you describe yourself, your beliefs, your life, your work will reveal to you some great insights about yourself.

Asking questions is what keeps us from becoming stagnant. Without questions there can be no growth.

Apparently when eagles build their nests, they make a foundation out of rough twigs and branches with thorns. Then they add soft leaves to make the dwelling comfortable for the chicks. As they grow, the chicks thrash about and scatter the soft leaves. The thorns then begin to make them uncomfortable. This is what motivates them to start taking flight and move out.

Life sometimes brings us discomfort and unhappiness. Rather than complain and resist, we should see these times as that we have to move and grow. It’s times like this that we have to constantly ask ourselves hard questions pertaining to what we really want to be, do and have in life. In daily life too, it’s the questions we ask ourselves that bring mindfulness and discipline to our life. Waking up and asking ourselves ‘What do I need to do today?’ ‘What do I want to achieve today?’ ‘How do I want to feel today?’

I recall that powerful question from Mary Oliver that continues to ring in my head: What do I want to do with this one wild and precious life?’

The best part about asking yourself questions is that you’ll find that you have the inner wisdom to answer them.

“The key to wisdom is knowing all the right questions.” – John Simone

Action steps:

  • Carl Sandburg wrote, “It is necessary … for a (wo)man to go away by (herself)himself … to sit on a rock … and ask, ‘Who am I, where have I been, and where am I going?”
  • Take a day off for yourself to reflect on these questions.
  • Write down your answers.
  • Come back to them after a month and see if they make sense to you. Ask the questions again.

[Tweet “The questions we ask ourselves determine the type of people that we will become. “]

Today I’m on ‘Q’ of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. My theme is the A to Z of Self Leadership. I’m also undertaking the NaBloPoMo for April – the theme is ‘grow’ and the Ultimate Blog Challenge

No – A to Z of Self Leadership

No – A to Z of Self Leadership

One very important aspect of self leadership is the ability to say ‘no’!

I used to suffer from the disease of people pleasing. And believe me, I paid too high a price for nothing! I tried too hard to make other people happy at the cost of my own happiness.

This is a great story about where people pleasing might lead to:

A married couple was returning from the funeral of Uncle George, who had lived with them for twenty years and had been such a nuisance that he almost succeeded in wrecking their marriage. “There is something I have to say to you, dear,” said the man. “If it hadn’t been for my love for you, I wouldn’t have put up with your Uncle George for a single day.” “My Uncle George!” she exclaimed in horror. “I thought he was your Uncle George!”
― Anthony de Mello, Taking Flight

We tolerate too many ‘Uncle Georges’ in our lives, thinking we are making other people happy. The reality is that later on these very same people might resent us for making them dependent on us.

My ability to say ‘no’ without guilt is still a work in progress. But I’m getting there. I’m learning to say ‘no’ to what my heart tells me not to do; to say ‘no’ when I’m doing something only out of a sense of obligation; to say ‘no’ when it means putting my legitimate needs before someone else’s. I’ve also learned that when I say ‘no’, I don’t owe the other person an explanation.

When you start truly valuing yourself, you learn not to feel guilty about saying ‘no’, because as author Duke Robinson says, “Saying yes when you need to say no causes burnout. You do yourself and the person making the request a disservice by saying yes all of the time.”

Sometimes “No” is the kindest word. ― Vironika Tugaleva

Action steps:

  • Pick one person who constantly makes demands on your time or resources.
  • Spend a few minutes analysing why you find it hard to say ‘no’ to this person. What will the consequences of your ‘no’ be?
  • Write a letter to this person (don’t send it to her) telling her why you no longer want to say ‘yes’ to her.
  • Practice a few sentences to say ‘no’ that don’t contain an explanation. For example, “I’m sorry, I can’t do this.”, “I’m sorry, I don’t have the time to ….” , the simple “No, thank you” and the most assertive of all, “No, I don’t want to…”

Learn to say ‘no’ to others and ‘yes’ to yourself!

saying no
[Tweet “Sometimes “No” is the kindest word.”]

Today I’m on ‘N’ of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. My theme is the A to Z of Self Leadership. I’m also undertaking the NaBloPoMo for April – the theme is ‘grow’ and the Ultimate Blog Challenge