I remember sitting in fifth grade science class and learning about the food chain. At the bottom are the lowly animals. They eat plants. They are eaten by slightly bigger animals above them. As we continue to move up the chain the bigger animals pick on the small ones. At the very top is the largest animal in that territory, and in most cases that was people.
That method of nature was taught in different classrooms for decades. Follow the chain and you can figure out how things work.
But somewhere along the line we realized that method just didn’t work. The world, and the balance of nature could be thrown off quite easily. We realized that the balance of nature is much more interconnected. It’s now viewed as a web. Every part is dependent on another for stability and growth.
Those small and seemingly insignificant creatures actually play a big part in helping everything run smoothly. One example is the microscopic organism plankton. It supports not just a large percentage of ocean life through the whales and other animals that eat it, it produces a large amount of the world’s oxygen. As global warming diminishes the number of plankton, we are not only losing ocean life, but our own source of oxygen.
I love the web analogy for our leadership growth. Often, as we make resolutions or goals (whether new years or at any other time), we want to treat it as an isolated event or problem to be fixed. The problem, of course, is that it really isn’t like that.
Everything in our life is interconnected, just like a food web. We need the small parts of our personality and demeanor, just as much as we need the large and obvious parts. We also need to work on and experience growth in those small aspects as well.
We live our lives in the web of significant relationships, values, and opportunities. Any desired growth must first recognize the interconnectedness of our lives because our leadership suffers when we don’t.
If you’re setting goals this year, focus on holistic growth. Build your web. In coaching those with burnout, I coach them on the seven aspects of holistic health: calling/vocation as well spiritual, emotional, mental, physical, relational, and financial health. Create a plan in 2016 to experience more growth and lasting change by setting goals that honor each of these areas and build your web.
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