On Valentine’s day I took a yoga class with Ally Maz at The Distrikt (if you don’t know her or the studio, you should). I went in hoping for a bit of an escape, but walked away with much more. Likely by design, the practice was a series of heart openers, some gentle and some wild, all set to a very compelling musical play list. At one point in the practice I felt as though I was about to cry. It wasn’t fear or sorrow, it wasn’t pain… it was (do I say it?) love. I caught glimpses of other red eyes around the room and I knew that there was an emotional contagion being created in the studio. This got me thinking about the power of love (excuse the cheesy song reference), and the extent to which we let love in… I am especially curious about this in the arena I play in: the workplace.
Here’s the thing about love: Love is part of our emotional fuel tank. It’s a resilience builder. It’s what keeps us above the line. Love and joy combined are what give us vitality, strength, and ultimately performance at work. (If you can’t get past the word “love”, think of it as care, compassion, connection and respect). Love is what helps us build connection, and from a leadership perspective, connection is your currency.
True leadership is about cultivating trusting relationships while also maintaining your own sense of values and beliefs. It’s the ability to take a firm stand for what you know to be true or right (which is an act of courage), while doing so in a way that builds relationship (an act of love).
Love gives us a healthy home base from which all the other ranges of emotions can be felt in their most productive forms. Anger from this home base brings a gift of clarity, motivation and direction, rather than destruction. Fear brings gifts of being deliberate, thought-out, having a sober second thought. Shame, from a home base of love, brings a true gift of humility, rather than all-consuming feelings of unworthiness. And all of these feelings are what make us whole and human. As leaders, our ability to access a wide range of emotions, is a key component of emotional intelligence, and emotional intelligence is a key driver of organizational performance.
Love is needed and necessary to be at our best. Love is seeing the potential of others, and believing in the potential of yourself. So, if you find yourself with low resilience, or feeling stressed or burnt-out, ask yourself this: What can I do in this moment to bring me more love and joy? Fill your emotional fuel tank. You won’t regret it, and the people around you will thank you too… you’ll be a better leader.