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The Three “L”s: Do we have the Right Stuff?

Our lives, leadership and legacies show up in many ways during key moments in our lives.

We all know people who prioritize and seek happiness in the accumulation of possessions like expensive cars, houses, shoes, clothes, jewelry and the list can go on.  When we feel that there is something missing in our lives, one of the easiest ways to try to fill this void is by accumulating more stuff.  While this might be easy for most, it doesn’t really work.

While “stuff” might give us a temporary boost, it’s been my experience that buying “stuff” addresses the underlying void that is driving our lack of happiness or satisfaction in our life. If you take it to the extreme, most of us had at least heard if not seen some of the painful stories about hoarders compelled to bury their unhappiness or lack of fulfillment under piles and piles of stuff only to be more and more miserable.

So what do current studies say will impact our happiness and truly enrich our lives?  Here is a list of the top five factors!

  • Partnering well is number one on the list!  Who we choose to be in relationship with has the biggest impact on our happiness.
  • Focus on family goals versus career or self-focused goals.  People are also happier when their partners prioritized family goals as well.
  • Spirituality: People who consider themselves spiritual and those who go to church more often were happier due to the sense of being part of something bigger than themselves.
  • Work, but not too much or too little but finding that balance: People’s happiness matched how well they felt their work hours matched their desired work hours.
  •  Social interaction and a sense of belonging is also one of the keys to happiness.

How does this relate to the “stuff” of our Leadership?

When we or others feel that there is something missing or lacking in our leadership, there is a tendency in leadership development today to amass stuff as well.  Competency models, tools, processes, multiple assessments, typing, roles, how tos and books on top of books. What is the impact of piling all of that stuff on our leaders and our leadership?

It can make leadership just as unfulfilling as life of amassing possessions.  “Stuff” can clutter, bury and distract us from what is most important to our leadership and our ability to be great.  A getting back to basics approach is one of the most powerful leadership development efforts you can make to enhance your leadership effectiveness today.  In parallel with the above list, the right stuff of leadership looks like this:

  • Partnering well. And being a good partner for others.
  • Focus on altruistic and organization goals versus career or self-focused goals.
  • Spirit: The sense of being part of something bigger than you.
  • Work, but not too much or too little.
  • Get social. After all, relationships are the real work of work.

Getting back to these five leadership basics instead of trying to work through all of the leadership stuff will enable the great leader within you to shine through!



  1. I love your ‘back-to-basics’ suggestions for our personal lives and as they relate to leadership as well. The link between material clutter and process clutter is a good one. They’re both things we can hide behind when good old-fashioned connections and doing good in the world are what should matter most. Thanks, Carmela.

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