Have you ever had a song stuck in your head? For me, it’s usually a snappy tune with singable lyrics —a song that holds meaning in some way. But it gets stuck on repeat, and the more I try to shut it down, the more stubbornly it plays over and over, forcing me to listen. Then finally, somehow, I can let it go. Well, that’s happening now for me, but with a poem. Rainer Maria Rilke lived over 100 years ago, but his poem about finding your footing in the very questions that perplex you is finding its footing in me, an earworm on repeat. Maybe because I need to hear it. Rilke writes of embracing instability as a grounding force. Say what?
Haven’t we been living with this uncertainly long enough? Apparently not.
We all long for a return to “normal,” but the reality may be that instability is the norm. It’s what we can count on, and it’s up to us to find equanimity in that tricky place. This poem, now that it’s gotten me to listen, is the teacher I think we need right now:
I want to beg you, as much as I can, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers which cannot be given to you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer. – Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
It’s aspirational, sure, but also exhausting. I’m tired of all the questions and uncertainty that come with our endless 21st-century plague. So, friends, I’m putting my skills to work, and I’m inviting you to join me in doing this transformational work. Together we will embrace this endless instability, tighten up our cores and find the best of ourselves in this new balancing act.
“Live everything. Live the questions…”
This is a transformative time. Whether you are leading your life, leading a family, leading a company—or, most likely, doing all three at once—the one consistent element is… you. Never has it been more critical to know yourself so fully that you understand how to invest in your energy and communicate who you are and what you can offer. That is the definition of authenticity: being genuine, being grounded and present. And what makes authenticity so necessary for this moment is that we are perhaps more distant than ever. More isolated and distracted.
To lean into the questions with deep authenticity calls for resilient leadership—a new kind of ROI of your time and energy. That return will be defined by what you care about—what you value and your sense of purpose.
- What if you could be the person you want to be?
- What if you felt clear about your self-leadership and the way you lead others?
Resilient leadership is about shifting from simply living the questions to powerfully living your truth. This new kind of ROI not only reaps tangible rewards, influence, and impact but also becomes the foundation for a sustainable, fulfilling life on your terms.
CALL TO ACTION
Download Barbara’s latest report, The Future of Resilient Leadership: Mindset, Energy and Work-Life Integration, a guide to help you cultivate a new kind of ROl and lead from your chair, wherever that chair happens to be.
Barbara Waxman, Leadership Coach, Gerontologist, Life Stage Expert, Angel Investor
Barbara Waxman, MS, MPA, PCC, founder of Odyssey Group Coaching, is passionate about building the personal and professional skills of Middlescent leaders to expand their capacity to manage complexity while forging a vibrant path forward with their hard-earned wisdom. Barbara utilizes a holistic approach with more than two decades of experience coaching CEOs, C-suite leaders, and entrepreneurs. Her experience as a Gerontologist and coach has culminated in the proprietary transformative coaching model, Entrepreneurship Turned Inward©, and her science-based Five Essential Elements© process. Barbara serves as an Advisory Council Member for the Stanford Center on Longevity, a faculty member at Chip Conley’s Modern Elder Academy, and an angel investor in the Active Aging and Longevity Fund with Portfolia. She has appeared on CBS This Morning, and has been featured in Marin Magazine, Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global, and is a frequent podcast guest.