MY EARLY YEARS
When I was a young professional, my perspective on growth was different. I remember as a first-time leader talking to my people about the need to constantly improve yourself, never be satisfied with where you are, and that if you aren’t growing you are dying. I would encourage them to frequently look for ways to study their strengths and weaknesses and work on making themselves better, as I did for myself. Now that I have a few more seasons under my belt, that perspective has changed. We DO need to continue growing ourselves – yet doing so with contentment is equally important.
WHAT IS CONTENTMENT?
Contentment is the state of being very satisfied. And it is a skill that can be learned. There are varying levels of contentment because we have different areas of our lives that we evaluate. While nobody has yet developed a scale for contentment, I believe that if one is satisfied simultaneously in the majority of areas of their life they are relatively content. Practically, it is difficult to be in a state of limbo between contentment and discontentment. In most cases you are either content, or you are not.
WHY BE CONTENT
Contentment doesn’t happen by accident. And the practices we perform to create contentment generally apply to all areas of our lives. Learning to be content is one of the most powerful ways to create fulfillment in our lives. Feeling fulfilled is one of the true measures of each person’s life. It answers the basic question: Why am I here and what is my purpose?
BUT IF I’M CONTENT, WHY WOULD I CHANGE MYSELF?
Being content with yourself means accepting, appreciating, respecting, and loving yourself for the person you are right now, no matter where that is. Anyone can be content with themselves at any time. It’s a matter of perspective mixed in with a dose of gratitude and appreciation for the good things in your life. It also always comes with an acknowledgment of where we’d like to grow ourselves. Growing yourself while being satisfied with how far you’ve come is contentment. It’s the balance between eternally accepting everything as-is and eternally pushing every part of you for change.
HOW LEADERS CAN CULTIVATE CONTENTMENT
Leaders have the ability to affect their tribe’s contentment. And because leaders are often tasked with creating significant growth in their tribes, it is especially important they recognize the need to create contentment within their organizations. It doesn’t happen automatically. Here are some ways to do that:
- Ensure that the organization’s values are clear and understood by all. Being part of a larger purpose creates contentment within its team members.
- Create events monthly or quarterly to celebrate progress.
- Create environments of encouragement. Focus on the positive growth opportunities versus fixating on the achieved failures
- Endorse the complete health of each team member. Allow for mental and body health activities. Encourage a balance between work and play.
- Recognize a team member’s progress along with constructive feedback.
THE END GAME
Leaders are not ultimately 100% responsible for the contentment of their organizations. More than anyone else, though, leaders have an enormous impact. While many believe that growth can only grow through constantly pushing the envelope, experienced leaders understand the importance of balance. Leaders using the tips above will find they achieve far more than they ever would with just constantly pushing. Their teams will be far more content. And what they accomplish may be surprising!