By Julian Wojczynski
What leadership meant as a newcomer
Leadership without wellbeing is like a ship without a rudder. You can have a great ship, but without the ability to navigate and course correct, you will certainly run ashore and that will be the end of your voyage. In my path of developing myself to being a leader of my company, I learned that leadership and my wellbeing are intricately intertwined. Having moved from Poland to Canada as a young professional, I also learned that integrating into Canadian culture can be a challenging experience no matter how you look at it. But what I found helped me the most in integrating as a leader in this new country was to take advantage of personal training and development programs (where a community of leaders exists) to open up to new connections, new opportunities and discover new ways of thinking and being.
Recovering from burn-out and the road to wellness
My story of leadership and wellbeing begins at the age of 26. At the time, I burned out. And, I do not mean a light burn-out. I mean a burn-out that took years for me to bounce back from. During my recovery process, I had temporary glimpses of what leadership and wellbeing looks like as an integrated phenomenon – yet, for me, it was elusive and unstable. So, while it was clear I had leadership potential, my ability to exercise that leadership effectively was significantly diminished.
So, how did I rebuild myself? Looking back, it all looks quite simple. I received guidance and coaching from key people in my life who contributed to my development. I also read lots and studied the human brain, body and being from the perspective of neuroscience, movement and ontological inquiry to better understand human behaviour. I then developed structures and systems to practice what I knew conceptually so I could integrate what I learned with what I knew. Mere knowing as I came to understand as a leader is a booby prize and quite meaningless without practical and repeated application.
“In order to change an existing paradigm you do not struggle to try and change the problematic model. You create a new model and make the old one obsolete.” – Bucky Fuller
The global leaders that have influenced my leadership are visionaries like Bucky Fuller and transformational teachers like Werner Erhard – however, the most practical learning for being a leader and learning to manage my wellbeing came from my mentor Robert Chun.
Achieving flow as a leader
To say Robert was instrumental in my development as a leader would be an understatement. I am astonished by Robert’s ability to generate his wellbeing while navigating and building dozens of businesses, and leading multiple teams within his own organization. The key that I learned from Robert is in-depth dialogues on “beingness” and my ability to generate my reality as a function of who I am being. An entire book and many trainings can be dedicated to the topic, but in essence I learned what it takes to be true, genuine and amazing with oneself and others. This, I discovered, is an integral part of wellbeing. Without a foundation of being true, genuine and amazing – and creating that consistently with well-designed structure, operational integrity and impeccable order – leading oneself and others will be ineffective or significantly diminished. To put it simply:
1) Structure is something that increases the capacity of your work – whatever that might be. 2) Integrity is what makes your structure work the way it was designed. 3) Order is what creates synchronized events to occur at the “perfect” time. The three together generate flow in a system.
The home of leadership is a well-articulated vision about the future that includes you, others and the environment. Leadership is the practical application of a visionary conversation about a reality that is yet to be actualized in physical reality. Thus, leadership and wellbeing are ideas that naturally weave together.
Leadership versus management
To understand this further, in contrast to leadership, we see management. The function of management is to manage linear incremental growth. The function of leadership is to bring forth new, exponential and non-linear growth. The brain processing enhancements (intelligence) and complex pattern recognition (wisdom) required to be in a non-linear, fluctuating and visionary conversation about the future – versus a linear conversation about creating more of what already exists incrementally over time are radically different. Simply put, leadership is a conversation that demands abstract thinking and thus the wellbeing requirements for the human brain, body and being are far more intricate. Abstract thinking is akin to an architect originating a plan for a building. Management is about maintaining the building once it has been built.
Creating my own blueprint and building plan
So, how has this type of thinking impacted my pursuit for wellbeing? In a nutshell, the effects have been immense. Developing an intentional, highly self-generative, creative, focused and imaginative space for being well has taken many years of trial and error to fine-tune and optimize. What I also discovered is that culturally, this “model” can be applicable to any environment in the world. As I travelled to many countries and continents (North America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Caribbean), regardless of where I went the principles applied universally. If I faltered and did not apply them, my ability to produce results were impacted.
The deeper I went into systems and their applications I learned that the key to wellbeing is in the brain and physical movements – as these directly impact our behaviour. Over time, I learned to stabilize speed processing and build pattern recognition with an activated breath practice and biometric body resets. Again, books can be written about these topics but at the end of the day it’s really quite simple: you can control the operations of your brain with how you move and how you breathe. If you practice advanced systems you will have very precise control – and, as a leader steering your organization that is a vital key to your success in the new post-modern “normal” reality.
I hope you have an adventurous wellness-integrated leadership journey, and always remember to have fun.
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