Peace on Earth?

You’ve heard it before, especially around the holidays – “peace on earth” (sometimes accompanied by “good will toward men”). This phrase is sometimes used to discuss the concept of world peace. If you’re like me, the concept of peace on earth or world peace can feel and seem overwhelming and impossible. Certainly, it’s challenging to imagine that you or I can have a significant impact on creating peace on earth – at least on our own. But perhaps there’s more of an opportunity to have this impact than we imagine.

Recently, I heard this phrase, but for the first time I saw and heard it differently. I wrote the phrase down on a piece of paper:

Peace on Earth

I then re-ordered the letters in the last word and came up with this:

Peace on Heart

Do you see it? Do you get it? Earth becomes heart when you move the “h” from the end to the beginning. While this initially didn’t make much sense to me (other than making me curious about the concept of earth versus heart), I then made a slight change in the phrase to the following:

Peace in the Heart

And that’s when it hit me. Perhaps what we most deeply seek is peace in the heart, and not just in the big things—in every moment, every experience, every situation and, yes, every setback, challenge or loss.

What if instead of pursuing some form of global peace on earth, we instead committed to achieving peace in the heart? In your heart, my heart and every heart—what an impact that would have in every aspect of your leadership, life and even in the world!

Think of the ways that your leadership is negatively impacted by the absence of peace in your heart (e.g. stressed, reactive, volatile, rushed, harsh, erratic, etc.). Think of the ways that your relationships suffer when you relate without peace in your heart (e.g. poor communication, anger, bitterness, doubt, self-righteousness, jealousy, disconnection, etc.). Finally, think of the ways that our communities and world are damaged by the absence of peace in our hearts (e.g. arrogance, competition, domination, prejudice and bias, control, etc.). Well now, isn’t that a list worth changing?

The cool thing about peace in the heart is that it doesn’t require big steps, but rather small shifts in your perspectives, choices and actions. It doesn’t require a group or organizational effort, but rather one person at a time achieving peace (or at least growing in peace) in their heart and then modeling that peace for and with others. In other words, it can be achieved one person at a time, but the impact will be felt across teams, organizations, families, relationships, communities and beyond.

My guess is that most of you would support the idea of having greater peace in your heart across a wide range of situations and relationships, but that leads us to the inevitable question of why – why don’t we already have peace in the heart? The answer is natural obstacles – natural or traditional ways of thinking that are in direct conflict with the growth of peace in the heart. Some of these obstacles include the desire or need to be in control, the false belief that you control much (when you actually control very little), and the absence of clarity about who you are, what you stand for and what’s most important in your leadership and life.

Unless and until you shift your perspectives on these key obstacles, peace in your heart will always elude you. However, if you’re willing to let go of your old ways of thinking and believing, and you’re willing to embrace the following leadership perspectives, you can find your way to peace in the heart:

  1. Choosing to lead instead of control, remembering that you only control your thoughts, beliefs, choices, words and actions
  2. Purposefully choosing core values (things that you stand for)
  3. Clarifying what’s most important and consistently aligning your actions with those priorities.

While each of these shifts has its own complexities and challenges, the common starting point is a shift in your objective – specifically to make peace in the heart one of your core intentions and objectives.

Are you ready to change the world by changing your small piece of it? Put away the grand vision of peace on earth and instead commit to an inside-out shift to peace in the heart – your heart. Can you see it? Can you imagine it? Can you feel it? One person pursuing and finding peace in the heart, followed by another and another and another. Imagine the impact on the world (big and small) as more and more people seek and extend peace in the heart, model it for others, and relate to others in this new and different way. Certainly, continue your prayers for peace on earth (I will), and at the same time let go of your old ways of leading and living and embrace peace in your heart as a path towards transformational change in every part of your business and your life.

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