This blog features insights from David Maclean. David Maclean works with The Executive Committee Canada (TEC) as the British Columbia Best Practice Chair, and leads 3 groups of CEOs, Entrepreneurs, and Key Executives in the Okanagan region of British Columbia. Through his work with TEC Canada, David helps leaders to ‘dare greatly’​ both professionally and personally.

David also leads Wholehearted Leaders (WHL). Through WHL David writes, speaks, and consults on leadership – particularly personal leadership, as well as employee engagement and corporate social responsibility. David’s goal through WHL is to equip, envision, and encourage people to live and lead on purpose from the heart.

You Gotta Have H.E.A.R.T

What do you think your most valuable asset is?  I mean as a person, not what you own.

Your education?  Your experience?  Your intelligence?  Your emotional intelligence?  Your abilities and talents?

I would venture to say that none of those are really your most valuable asset.  Sure they are all valuable components of who you are and what you bring to the table, but there is one asset you have that is your real ‘secret sauce’… your heart.

“What?!” – let me explain…

Your heart is more than feelings and emotions, which is what the vast majority tend to believe.  Your heart is your deepest place of passion, purpose, conviction, commitment, identity, and life.  If we were talking about a mutual friend and I said to you that he had ‘lost heart’, would you think that he wasn’t that emotional?  No, you would discern that he has lost passion, purpose, conviction, commitment, identity, and life.

If we considered a leader ‘half-hearted’ in her work, we would have judged her to be lacking in commitment, passion, dedication, engagement, purpose, and so on.

If we want to get to the ‘heart’ of the matter we want to get to the very essence of the situation – the core of the issue.

Your heart is the deepest part of who you are, but it’s something that is very difficult to understand.  Clearly, I am not talking about your heart organ, but the core of what makes you, you.

Let’s take a look at a powerful leader – Martin Luther King Jr.  Yes, he was a good orator and a good leader, but the power behind who he was, was his heart.  His passion, his purpose, his commitment, his conviction, his identity, and his ‘life’ were the horsepower behind everything he did.  If he had ‘lost heart’ he would not have had a dream to transform society.  He would not have had the commitment and conviction to press on through opposition to accomplish the lofty and noble objective for which he lived.

It is not possible for a leader to have a profound, powerful, and positive influence in someone’s life without engaging the heart.  In order to lead and live wholeheartedly to create a lasting impact we must choose to engage in 3 critical journeys:

First, we must embark upon the journey to discover and uncover our heart.  Secondly, we must embark on the journey of healing our hearts, because sadly, it is our heart that bears the wounds of life.  Thirdly, we must then choose to engage and live from our hearts.

These are all significant journeys indeed, and the kind of expeditions that are best embarked upon with the help of a guide – someone wise in the ways of the heart.

I want to give you a simple acronym to help you catch a little glimpse of what it means to live wholeheartedly – how to have H.E.A.R.T.:

  1. Humility

This is by far the most important characteristic of a leader and one who lives wholeheartedly.  Humility is the power to learn from others, to be coachable, to know that there is more you don’t know than you know, so, therefore, you need the input of others.  Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.

  1. Empathy

This is really choosing to be other’s-centered instead of self-centered.  It’s being aware of and attuned to the needs of others, then choosing to be compassionate.

  1. Authenticity

No masks.  No pretending.  Bring the real you.  It is impossible to grow and improve if you are unwilling to admit your need for change and insist on ‘posing’ – pretending you are something that you are not.

  1. Risk

Significant human interaction always involves risk, because it requires vulnerability.  Risk always demands courage.  An unwillingness to risk is cowardly.

  1. Tenacity

To lead and live wholeheartedly requires the tenacity to courageously and boldly keep moving forward in humility, empathy, authenticity and vulnerability, to risk success and failure on a regular basis – as a lifestyle.

The journey into wholeheartedness is not a simple one.  It is a demanding expedition that is not for the faint of heart.  But, for those who are willing to put in the effort the rewards are exceptional indeed.

Yes, you gotta have H.E.A.R.T.