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Increasing Self Awareness - 3 leadership development tools

 

As part of my leadership reading list on Lead Self, the book: The power of Coincidence: How life shows us what we need to know by David Richo is probably one of the more spiritual books I have read on self-awareness… While some the content of this book is beyond my grasp (or maybe my interest) I do take away three self-awareness insights. 

Much of this book is centered around letting go of the things that lead to needing to “be right”, “be in control”, “stay in fear” or “wanting to retaliate.” In letting go of those you make room for generosity, openness and letting life and love in. It also allows you to be a better leader in making more room for others.

Pause at the Pauses in Life

Life comes with its share of unexpected changes and events. Many of us have the tendency to fill the “in between spaces” with action and activity to avoid the quiet. Maybe the pauses are similar to the quiet in between plot developments in a book. The pause we take in these “in between” stages are an important part of growth. The hard part is to be quiet and observe rather than fill the space with “busyness.” A quote: “impatience is a refusal to honour the built-in timing of events.”

Take away: Have the courage to be quiet and to let go of controlling and willing events in the “in between” stages. Great thing show up when we are least looking for them.

Spot Fear, Attachment, Control and Entitlement

There is quite a bit in this book about the Ego and the Self – lots of it is based on Jung’s theories. The bottom line is that the Ego can get in the way of who we want to be and can show up as fear, attachment, control and entitlement. Time is spent in the book on converting this to the opposites:

  • Fear becomes love
  • Attachment becomes letting go
  • Control becomes allowing and honoring others’ freedom
  • Entitlement becomes standing up for our rights without retaliation if they are not respected

Takeaway: Fear thrives on isolation and powerlessness. When we admit our fears and share, it decreases the power it hold over us.

Mindfulness Exercise – letting go of 5 layers


Many of us have the tendency to distance ourselves from emotional reactions or to give in to drama. Mindfulness is simply “noticing our feelings and paying attention to them.” The book speaks of mindfulness as a way to visit the mind rather than be a prisoner to it.

Here one exercise to try.
Form an image of your current problem, concern or crisis. Sit comfortable and imagine that your problem is cupped in your hands in the image of a ball - a ball that is covered in 5 layers. Feel the weight of the ball and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is scary about this problem and how are you holding on to fear, or being stopped or pushed by it?
    • Once you are aware if it, imagine yourself peeling it away and dropping it as you let go of the need to fear this.
  • How invested are you in controlling the outcome of this problem and how are you trying to maintain control of others around you?
    • Imagine yourself peeling away this layer and letting go of the need to control this.
  • How are you blaming this problem on someone else?
    • Let go of this layer and affirm that you let go of the need to blame anyone for this.
  • How are you feeling shame or guilt about having this problem?
    • Peel it away too to let go of the need to feel ashamed of this
  • How are you letting your serenity become dependent upon whether you can bring everything back to normal?
    • Peel this final layer away and let go of the need to fix this.

Now ask yourself what is left of the original problem. What does the ball feel like now and what is left of it? Let go of that.

Takeaway: Letting go of fear, control, blame, shame and the need to fix things creates space for new insights.

If you are interested in exploring these aspects of self-awareness as part of your leadership journey – this book is a good introduction with plenty of practical exercises and reflections.

 

 

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10 Steps to Doing What You Love

I often coach people who come to me because they feel stuck in a soul-sucking job, who feel they are stuck on a treadmill and who know their passion lies somewhere else. They want to write for a living, work for an environmental not for profit agency or work less and go back to school. They carry their “shoulds” as well as those of other people on their shoulders. They know what their dreams are yet their own voices in their heads and the voices of those around them tell them it’s not possible. And yet it stares them in the face and simply won’t leave their thoughts. Stop doing what you think you should be doing and start doing what you love. Because when you do what you are meant to do - you do your best work.

If this sounds like you – grab yourself a journal ask yourself these 10 questions:

1. If money was no obstacle and you knew you couldn’t fail – what is possible?

Take your time with this question. Once people let go of restrictions that lack of money, time or fear of failure brings they are often crystal clear about what they want and a picture begins to take shape. You can’t create your impossible future unless you create it and stand in the middle of it. Notice that the question is “what is possible?” We often go to “action” or “doing” – this question is so open you could go anywhere (including action).

2. What is it costing you to stay where you are?

Be honest and tell yourself what it is costing you. It can be your health, happiness, but also how you are with yourself and others. Be specific in what it is costing you physically, mentally, socially, spiritually and fiscally.

3. What can you pull from?

Take some time to reflect on:
a. When in your life did you go after what you really wanted to do?
b. What strengths did you use then?
c. Which ones can serve you now?

Answer these questions one at a time. Sometimes I ask this question differently: “What got you here?” The answers I have heard include: “ I am smart, I work hard, I knew it was the right thing to do, when I want something I don’t give up…” What is possible if you applied these strengths to your passion?

4. What is holding you back?

This question brings up any real or ‘imagined’ obstacles. I use the word ‘imagined’ because many obstacles exist only in your head. Sometimes the obstacles are very practical “I need money to live”, others are about fear of failure, still others are about judgment of others or not having enough skills or knowledge. Write them down. When you write the obstacles down you can tackle them and assess how you can tackle them. You can assess what’s underneath those fears and obstacles. If money is a fear – be clear about how much money you do need to live. Every obstacle can be overcome.

5. What are the parts that need to come together for you to move forward on this?

For some people this question is answered with a straightforward action plan. For others the answer is a thinking framework or data points for reflection. For some it is clarity of focus. The more clear you can be about this – the easier it is to figure out where to start or where the blockage points are that require further thinking.

6. Who can help / support you in this?

Who can help you? Whose support will make a difference? It could be those who are successful at what they do. It could be joining a group of like-minded people. It could be the support of your boss, peer , friend or spouse. We often think we have to go it alone You don’t. People love to support others in their dreams. Ask for what is helpful to you and share your dream.

7. What IS possible?

We focus so much on what is not possible. This question is about what IS possible. Seeing new possibilities often requires a mental model shift. How can you see what is possible right now? Describe what is possible AND take note of what mental shifts need to happen.

8. What steps will you take to make this happen?

Anchor your thinking in action. What steps can you take in the next 2 weeks? Break your plan down in small, actionable steps. Then work on something every day. Where your focus goes, your results will flow. Imagine doing one small thing every day for 100 days. Watch where you will be.

9. Ignore the nay-sayers

There will be people who will say it is hard, that it is impossible. That you can’t make money as a writer or a musician, that the VP job will kill you or is out of your reach. And one of those voices will be in your head. Ignore it or work to prove it wrong.

10. Be courageous and say it out loud

This is your life and you get to be the driver. Is it going to be hard? Probably. Is it going to be scary? Perhaps. It is also life-changing, worth it and possible. Put it out there and ask the Universe.

And if you needed a little more encouragement, watch this moving commencement speech by Jim Carey about how his father inspired him to follow his dreams.

 

 

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The Strength Deployment Inventory®

SDI Qual RGBToday's healthcare system is fraught with change: mergers, downsizing and reorganizations create workplace environments that are challenging, uncertain and stressful. It's not surprising that organizations, during times of significant change, report an increase in formal complaints, staff turnover, absenteeism, and interpersonal conflicts.

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