I love you....there I said it
My fitness routines alternate between Bikram yoga, running and weight training - for me this becomes a full circle of yoga for my spirit, weight training for a strong body, and running to free my mind. Given the physical and emotional demands of life in general, putting fitness as one of the priorities in my life helps keep things in balance and keeps me sane. I know everyone has their own thing, but this just works for me. I would like to think that if I didn’t “freaking love retail” so much I would be working in that industry, and another reason I named this blog Retail Fitness. They are extricably linked for me.
There is a unique language that we as retailers speak, but there is also specific language in any type of game or sport. Typically, the word Namaste is used in yoga; “Nama” means bow, “as” means I and “te” means you. Therefore, Namaste literally means “bow me you” or “I bow to you”. For a teacher and student, saying “Namaste" allows two individuals to come together energetically to a place of connection and timelessness, free from the bonds of ego-connection.
Recently, after finishing up particularly tough 90 minute Bikram practice in 100-degree heat, I was lying on the floor wiping the sweat off my face thinking about how fast I could get out of there, and the instructor said something very unexpected…. “I love you all very much and thank you for sharing your practice with me”. To be honest I was a little taken aback, but at the same time it actually felt nice. The only thing this man and I know about each other are our first names, yet there was a connection after a shared experience that prompted him to use the word LOVE.
As I left the yoga room, I thought about the use of the word love in the workplace- something we rarely, if ever use. This yoga studio was his workplace and yet he felt comfortable and connected enough to tell his students that he loved them. To be completely honest, I have thought about expressing love at work as a feminine quality, a simple emotion that is awkward at best to use in a sentence.
Here are some ways we typically think about LOVE in the workplace...
Love what you do
Love your people
Love your work
Love your company
Considering all of this, should we think about LOVE as a leadership competency along with others like business acumen, ability to drive results, operational efficiency and so on? Continuing on this path, without awkwardly expressing that you love someone you work with, here are some ways you can demonstrate it as a leadership competency:
Love yourself by showing compassion. If you want to lead with love, compassion is one of the first necessities. And the place to begin with practicing compassion is with yourself. That means seeing yourself as a unique human being with faults, failures, successes and weaknesses, without deciding whether or not you are deserving. Showing compassion to yourself prepares you to extend it to others.
Love your people by showing your commitment. Honoring your commitments with integrity is not only a bedrock of ethical behavior but a sign of genuine love, letting others know that you can be trusted to come through for them. Love your people enough to let them know they can count on you.
Love your work by showing up with competence. Vision is a great starting place, but it is competence that makes it into a reality. Results are important, and the care you bring to your work shows love for those you lead. When you love your work enough to contribute the very best of your capabilities, you lead with excellence.
Love those around you by showing kindness. The simplest act of kindness is powerful…nothing carries more potential for change. Kindness shows your love and transforms everyone it touches. Too often we underestimate power of a hug, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring. If you can show kindness, you are a leader who loves.
Love is a game changing competency, not only in leadership but in life.
Work to become someone who leads with compassion, commitment, competence, and kindness. The qualities that define us as human beings and propel us and those around us to greatness.
And the next time someone asks you to name the most important competency of leadership, I hope you remember that competencies of love, because in the end that can be your legacy.
To those of you whom I know well, and to many of you whom I have never met, I love you and thank you for reading today. There I said it.