Good Leaders: Can you forget resolutions and try aspirations instead?

President George W. Bush took up painting after political life. His work is beautiful and inspiring.

My favorite Christmas gift this year is a book of paintings and writings by George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States. It’s a beautiful coffee table style book called Portraits of Courage – a Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors. I love it for many reasons, but mainly because it’s a joyful celebration of what’s possible when we follow our aspirations.

Aspirations help life and leadership

As a reader of this blog, by now you know my belief in how aspirational thinking changes life and leadership. It’s the subject of my most recent book. Resolutions come and go. So much so that it’s almost cool to say “I’ve already broken my New Year’s Resolution.” Anything that makes it cool to quit on something important to you isn’t cool.

But aspirations never die. They just keep growing.

What George W. discovered after a life in politics was a yearning to express himself. He read Winston Churchill’s essay “Painting as a Pastime.” Until that moment, he didn’t know he could be a painter. “I figured if painting sated Churchill’s appetite for learning, I might benefit from it as well,” George writes in the foreword of the book.

Aspirations are passions

Bush’s aspirations today include telling the stories of US Military warriors through painting and prose.

“Paint what you love,” his teacher encouraged. So he started with the family pets. As skill and courage grew, he began to paint portraits of people. Holding this book in my hands is a multi-sensory experience – an admiring tribute to the fascinating, courageous military warriors George knows from his journey.

My grandmother lived to 103. She memorized all 27 Chopin piano etudes after the age of 90.

Looking ahead

So, today is a launching point into a new year. What are your aspirations?

Good leaders never stop considering “what’s possible?” in their lives. And they continue to stretch and grow with aspirations, because that’s what good leaders do.

What are your aspirations for this year?

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