Becoming Your Best Self With Eric Winters

Becoming your best self with Eric Winters

Spend 10 minutes with our Paradigm Shifters, the people who are shaping the ideas that will take us into the future. Meet Eric Winters, self-leadership speaker, coach and author of Swipe Right on Your Best Self. Winters’ philosophy is that when we make courageous choices, we create a more meaningful, authentic life. Here, he shares his secret to setting up a successful day, what meaningful ambition means and how to live with courageous authenticity.

How I start my day …
I begin each day seated at a table bathed in morning sunshine with a flask of freshly brewed coffee. I take a clean sheet of A4 paper and ask myself four questions.

I begin with “What’s good?” I’ll write down just three or four things I appreciate in life, the little and the large, and take a few moments to savour each one. Recent answers have included Neil Gaiman’s American Gods (the book and the TV series, both extraordinary), garlic, my partner Rachel and being alive.

The next question is “What went well?” I reflect on the previous day and relive any successes or progress made. On a slow day any small accomplishment is eligible for inclusion. Did the laundry? Tick!

Fortified with a rekindled sense of appreciation, achievement and caffeine I’ll turn my attention to “What needs work?” Here I ponder what didn’t go quite so well yesterday and what I’ll do differently next time.

Question number four is “What made today utterly awesome?” I imagine I’m answering this later on, just before bed, enjoying the glow of a day really well spent. I muse not only on the what, but also the how. How did I engage with each of today’s activities? Often with purpose, presence and playfulness.

Now I’m ready to launch into my day.

On ambition …
Ambition deserves a makeover. Not limited to careers, I reckon we can be ambitious about anything. I’m ambitious about being present, learning, loving, tasting, speaking, teaching, writing, coffee, friendships, hiking, humour and reading.

To be ambitious is to engage with life purposefully. Best, I think, to have several purposes. From time to time purposes will be snatched from us, or worse, they’ll walk out. Best to have several backups to invest in. I don’t think it much matters what our purposes are in order to be fulfilling. But they must be ours. Not someone else’s. Prioritise personal purposes.

On writing my first book …
What finally enabled me to write a book wasn’t the confidence that I could do it. It was the certainty that I couldn’t. I initially imagined I could immediately assemble meaningful sentences into a cohesive narrative. Hah! That turned out to be an idea that stifled creativity. Then I discovered that I didn’t need to write a book at all. I only had to write the ugly first draft of the next sentence. I could do that. Over time something emerged, took shape, developed. Ultimately, yes, there was a book. But I couldn’t have written that at the start.

I suspect this idea may have broader applications. Raising children, learning the cello, learning to dance. We don’t need to be able to do any of these things when we start. We only need to write the ugly first draft of the next sentence. We can do that.

On work–life balance …
Balance sounds awful. I prefer to wildly tilt in one direction or the other.

On living with courageous authenticity …
According to palliative care nurse Bronnie Ware, the number one regret of the dying is I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. We avoid sharing this regret when we live with greater courageous authenticity.

I wrote Swipe Right on Your Best Self to help people live their own courageously authentic lives, doing more of what is personally meaningful and challenging.

Every day provides opportunities to willingly make courageous choices, small or large. Any action that increases vulnerability in the service of meaning counts. Yours may be different from mine.

My own mind will predict irrecoverable ridicule each time I deliver a keynote, publish an article, post a video, reach out to collaborate or ask for help. I notice this and take action anyway.

Other times my mind will predict profound satisfaction if I’ll just consume something, say something, watch something. On these occasions I’ll notice this and practise restraint. I practise a lot.

On what successful leadership looks like …
We are leaders each time we choose to pilot our lives, rather than be passengers. Successful leadership is compassionate, flexible and courageously authentic. It looks like parenting, starting a business, recovering from illness, overcoming an addiction, running an airline, applying for another job or being in an intimate relationship.

What I do to blow off steam …
I’m very fond of hiking for several hours. There’s a fabulous six-hour coastal walk in the Royal National Park in NSW that runs from Otford to Bundeena. It’s stunning. Beaches, forests, clifftops — it’s ever-changing and continually rewarding. At the end, I take the ferry to Cronulla and reward myself with a piccolo at one of Sydney’s greatest cafés, Café Grind. Bliss.

Words to live by…
There is nothing the wise man does reluctantly — Seneca the Younger, circa 50CE.

What’s next for me personally …
I’m delivering new training in courageous authenticity to leaders across NSW. Although much of it will be delivered online, there will be lots of travel into country NSW, which I especially enjoy.

Say hello …
Web: ericwinters.com.au
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ericwinterscomau/
Facebook: @ericwinterscomau
Blog subscription: bit.ly/3yNBDve

Eric’s book, Swipe Right on Your Best Self is available from all online booksellers. Signed copies are available from his website.

Charlie Hale

Charlie Hale

Charlie Hale is the Deputy Editor of WellBeing, EatWell and WILD. ​She writes about a plethora of things women care about — from pasta to politics and everything in between.

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