Leadership through Love

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The Valentine’s Day has come and gone – whether we dressed up and went out or cozied up and stayed in, baked heart-shaped treats or made crafts with our children, received presents or bought them for others.  While I personally find charm in this holiday, I have heard enough people over the course of years air their grievances over the Valentine’s Day.  Some are bothered by how over- commercialized it is. Others feel left out of the whole Hallmark-fuelled paraphernalia exchange until they find their true love, or lose the holiday spirit alltogether with a loss of a loved one. There are also those who don’t feel it’s a part of their culture to celebrate the legend of a mystical Christian saint who secretly wed lovers at the expense of his own life. Whatever the particular reason for discontent is the common theme I am sensing is the somewhat exclusive nature of the holiday. But it does not have to be this way.

Having a day on the calendar designated to sharing so many love proclamations I see as a good thing (even though by all means this doesn’t have to be limited to one day). While it is great to celebrate love in all of its forms and shapes, I suggest we begin by acknowledging the most important kind – the love for oneself and one’s life.  It may sound a bit selfish, but in reality there is nothing wrong with loving yourself first. There is a reason why in depressurized airplane cabins we are supposed to put our own oxygen mask before helping others – if you don’t take care of your needs first, you will be good for nothing to others either. In other words, if you don’t love yourself or don’t find yourself deserving of love, it’s guaranteed, this attitude will seep through into all of your relationships. Sad consequences arise around people who don’t love or even know their true self.

A highly acclaimed psychologist friend once told me – the most precious gift you can give your child is a happy mother. Every parent owes it to their children to find their own happiness  today so that they don’t end up blaming the lack of it on others later. I believe this statement is true for every relationship we are engaged in. So I invite you to never feel guilty for paying attention to your own needs first. Look within and ask yourself – what truly makes me happy? What do I enjoy doing in this life?  Do I love my job? What do I love about it and what aspects of my job are not working for me?  How am I going to fix this? What are some of the things I would love to do but I am  currently not doing?

The word ‘love’ is nowhere near to being used in today’s workplaces – however it’s a very relevant concept. True leadership to me is rooted in the leader’s firm belief that he or she is deserving of a meaningful, fulfilling and extraordinary life. This belief should be supported through his or her actions towards nailing down their purpose and finding what makes them complete both as a human being and as a professional. Leaders on this kind of quest are first of all, leading others by example, and, secondly, once you are whole and content it’s easier to extend your love to other people by touching their lives and helping them shine and flourish.

All of us are at different stages of our journey called life – I personally don’t know anyone who has it all figured out. Here are some things we can start doing today regardless of where we are at in this process:

  • Make your life more enjoyable by taking best care of your health and wellbeing and by freeing yourself from everything that bogs you down, drains energy and resources as well as takes space in your closet or mind without adding value.
  • Show more love to people around you by extending your compassion and appreciation for the walk of life they had been on and the journey they have ahead of them.
  • Start loving the work you do by taking pride in it and by committing to do your best every day. Remember that no one is out there to get you or to slow down your progress. It is up to you to give your 100% to what you do in order to produce quality results.
  • Start loving the place you work for by breaking the silo walls between “you” and “them” and understanding that all of you are a part of the same team united by a common purpose.
  • Most importantly, start loving yourself by aligning the actions you choose to take- with your true purpose and find your happiness. The gift you will be able to offer the people around you – the gift of a happy and loving you – is invaluable.

Loving yourself first does not mean neglecting the needs of other people or overstepping the boundaries of their rights and freedoms.  The opposite is true – by learning to love yourself with all your faults and possibly shortcomings, by understanding and acknowledging your worth and showing compassion to yourself you can learn to show true compassion and love to everyone else around you.

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  1. Wow, this is so true! A lot of people including myself feel guilty whenever we pay attention to our own needs first. This feeling is hard to live with. You are right – indeed we must stop feeling shame and guilt and be happier. Thank you so much for the encouragement.

  2. When you feel guilty for loving yourself and treat yourself as if you don’t deserve love – your attitude becomes contagious. It’s often picked up by the people around you including your own children. Even they start believing that something is wrong with you loving yourself and thus end up further fuelling your feeling of guilt. I made this observation long time ago and thank you for verbalizing it. I will share this article with my children so that they can read it too.

    1. You are right Melissa. Whatever feelings we experience they do become contagious for people around us. So we need to start the change within ourselves in order for others, including our children start seeing us in a new light.

  3. There is no “love” at traditional work places. It is true… Finally I found a business model where I can love myself and others. Leadership matters in this business because the majority of the world population is unfamiliar with this new path. They are somewhat reluctant to take this unknown journey. They need a good guide to follow. To be a good leader requires lots of love and compassion to oneself and to others! I believe the world needs this most at this moment! Thank you Natella for this beautiful inspiration! I love you❤

    1. Thank you Guler and I love you too :). The business model you chose for yourself definitely is a great match for your generous and caring personality. As for the lack of love in traditional workplaces, it should not be that way and I believe there are things that can be done about it.

  4. Focusing on self-development, either physical or mental has many positive consequences. Loving oneself may not be the most obvious but as you have pointed out Natella, it may be one of the most important. It is much easier to help and love others if you understand first how best to help and love yourself.

  5. Loving ourselves and putting our needs first is something that we aren’t taught at any stage of our life.But what you are saying here is so true.