My Leadership is Finite and So is Yours

By Lisa Chandler, 27 May, 2022
The cover of Four Thousand Weeks, by Oliver Burkeman.

I was very candid last week to a local executive group.  I don’t mind what happens.

I said no to a large leadership project (and the revenue potential). I don’t mind what happens.

I’m putting a pause on the Conscious Leader Forum despite its success. I don’t mind what happens.

I don’t mind what happens comes from Oliver Burkeman’s Four Thousand Weeks (short overview here).

It’s important not to mind what happens because I am a limited amount of time. In this finite life, even the best life I could possibly imagine, I’ll need to ceaselessly say goodbye to possibilities.

I don’t have time. It has me.

At best, I have 2000+ weeks left on this planet.

In leadership, I might want to throw in the towel soon or do something leaderly for 1000+ of my weeks (I anticipate the later). Let’s say I settle on the short side and work/lead for 250 more weeks like some leaders I know who have this timeline in mind.  

That’s 250 more Monday mornings. 250 more Sunday morning coffees contemplating life and the week ahead. 250 more weekly team meetings (I riffed off @TimAdamsWrites to make this very real).

Armed with this constraint, you might imagine I feel despair. This is precious little time, you might say.

But I don’t feel despair at all.

I feel more accepting that I will never accomplish all I want to—that there is no magical moment in the future when I will feel I have “arrived”.

I realize that I will need to say no to lots of things that I genuinely want to do. In practice, I am still resisting this notion quite strenuously at times.  I still say yes sometimes when inside I want to say no. Learning to say a whole body YES! and a clear NO are what conscious leaders practice. I am practicing. It is uncomfortable.

Ironically, as I learn to let go of certain “obligations” and beliefs about what I “should” do, I feel free!

I’m invigorated by my finitude.

I am so curious to find out what I will do with my finite weeks.

I don’t mind what happens.

I am a limited amount of time. So are you.