Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to reflect on the power of love and purpose. As mentioned in my top ten life lessons, I’ve written book chapters and about 200 blogs and articles about love. One of those, posted exactly 12 years ago on Valentine’s Day, was Love is at the Heart of Strong Leadership.

Highly effective leaders are in love with the organization, community, or team that they work or live in. Their love is expressed in a deep desire to see that organization, community, or team grow to its full potential. Leaders love the people they work with enough to contribute to their growth and development.


Loving It: To Boldy Grow

Love of others starts with love of self. The desire to see others grow and develop starts with our own personal growth and development. That’s linked to our personal purpose.

Continually unraveling the layers of our deeply personal why should be a lifelong effort. It’s continually exploring the mystery of our own existence.

Our inner space is as vast as outer space. Like generations of Star Trekkers who “boldly go where no one has gone before,” we continue to unravel our frontier of self-knowledge. If we’re going to continue to deepen and grow, it’s our own never-ending discovery trek.


Deepening Spirit and Meaning: Personal Application Ideas

There are countless ways to deepen spirit, meaning, and purpose. I use many of these ideas and/or help others apply them. Pick a few that resonate with you:

  1. Practice regular meditation to keep yourself centered and relaxed. Take meditation training or experiment with this powerful force on your own. Many meditation apps are available. Our family’s favorite is Insight Timer.
  2. Carve out regular R & R (reflection and renewal) time for yourself. This is vital oxygenation for your own health and wellness and to effectively lead others.
  3. Read books, listen to podcasts, subscribe to newsletters, or watch videos that deal with deeper issues like the soul, mysticism, spirituality, prayer, purpose, meaning, and the like. Combine this with meditation and reflection.
  4. Don’t confuse religion and spirituality. Religion prescribes a particular system of faith and worship, usually based on rigid dogmas and right/wrong ways of living. Spirituality is the quest for deeper meaning and understanding of our divine nature in universal laws that can be approached in many ways or take numerous forms of expression.
  5. Regularly revisit and refine/rewrite your personal vision, values, and purpose.
  6. Do you feel that you’re expressing a deeper purpose or calling through your work? If not, what are you doing to ensure you don’t become a victim of your job?
  7. Be careful of the quantity and quality of your screen time. Research such as a recent meta-analysis showed “binge-watching and mental health concerns were significant.” Too much negative screen sucking can lead to depression, loneliness, sleep problems, anxiety, stress, and addictive behaviors.
  8. Make a gratitude visit. Pick a person in your life that you’d like to thank. Write this person a letter outlining how they helped you. After you’ve written it, call the person and ask to visit. Read the letter aloud when you are face-to-face.
  9. Add to your blessings and brag list every night before going to bed. Drift off to sleep by ending the day on a positive note with an expectation that you’ll awaken with positive expectations tomorrow. The older we get, the more just awakening to another day can be the first blessing of the day!
  10. Keep adding to your blessings and brag list. Continue to record every accomplishment, strength, and success you’ve ever had or thing you’re grateful for. Review the list whenever you’re feeling down on yourself, anxious, or a little sour.
  11. Nurture an attitude of gratitude into a powerful habit until the habit has you. Positive psychology research shows that building and regularly reviewing our long list of reasons to be grateful is a powerful way to reframe and rebalance our inclination to focus on what’s wrong rather than what’s right.
  12. Pay attention to when you’re in flow. This is when we’re “in the zone,” and time flies by. It’s when we’re thinking, “When can I do this again?” Notice when time drags on, and you’re thinking, “When will this ever be over?” What are you doing during those times? What does this tell you about ways to make your life and work more meaningful?
  13. Spend time with your organization’s customers/clients and learn how the services or products they use make a difference in their lives. Share these stories with others on your team, especially those in support roles.
  14. Develop “Making a Difference” awards, story sharing, or events. Get people in your organization talking about how what you do affects the lives of those you serve.
  15. Get involved in fundraising or volunteering with charitable organizations or social service agencies.
  16. Spend time with “meaning seekers” who are engaged in finding a deeper spirit and meaning in their lives.
  17. Participate in spiritual workshops or personal retreats, providing guidance for your inner quest.
  18. Continually remind yourself that the Seven Wonders of the World are to see, to taste, to touch, to hear, to feel, to laugh or smile, and, most of all, to love.
  19. One form of poverty isn’t to have little. It’s to have enough and want more, more, more….
  20. Always remember, “This too shall pass.”
  21. Don’t confuse who you are with your performance. Separate your being and innate value from your accomplishments or failures.


On Purpose: At the Core of Love

Inside-out leadership comes from our depth. We’re leading from our center. A centered leader is continually exploring inner space and drawing outer leadership strength from their heart and soul. This is how they enrich their lives. It is the source of the spirit and meaning they bring to their families, teams, or organizations.