by Jen Sellers
Accept what is and your role in creating it, and you become empowered to create something different. – Alan Seale
In a Mindful Leadership seminar I conducted a couple of weeks ago at a bank in Phoenix, the word acceptance came up as an aspect of mindfulness. It had me thinking about what acceptance is and what acceptance isn’t, especially when it comes to our own leadership mastery. These are my brief thoughts.
What does acceptance mean to you? We’d love to hear from you!
by Jen Sellers
My client Xavier had a niggling problem. As a senior leader and member of the personnel development team, he fosters the growth of individuals across the organization, including recommending transfers to grow new leaders and advance careers. Yet, if too many of his best people go to other locations, the performance of his division could be compromised.
Xavier only had a glimmer that this nagging issue was subtly draining him. We talked it through and he developed a plan which included prioritizing the most essential people at his site, looking at who could replace them from other sites, and preparing a time of overlap. When we were finished, I asked him what had been important in our discussion, and he said, “I turned a worry into action.”
In our next session, Xavier described how he dealt with another concern, the latest obstacle in a difficult plant start-up. Without realizing it, he had again turned worry into action.
by Kate Harper
“How many of you regularly ask for feedback?” One hand out of 10 is raised. The rest of the group looks stricken. These leaders are voluntarily here for a class on receiving feedback and still the topic is uncomfortable.
What makes receiving feedback so difficult? “The process strikes at the tension between two core human needs—the need to learn and grow, and the need to be accepted just the way you are,” say Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone, in their Harvard Business Review article, Find the Coaching in Criticism.
Intellectually we understand the value of feedback – it helps us gauge if we are being effective and see inside our blind spots. No company would bring a product to market without getting customer input. Yet when the product is our self, even the thought of someone else’s helpful suggestion can trigger a strong defensive reaction.
Think back to the last time you received unsolicited feedback. Did you want to argue? Run away? Or were you temporarily frozen in place? Perhaps it was a combination: I can’t punch my boss so I’ll just say nothing. Our brain interprets feedback as a threat. The threat causes anxiety which triggers a defense – fight, flight or freeze.
This is a very basic protective mechanism. Even the most enlightened among us will get triggered. So what can you do? One way to receive feedback more easily is understand what triggers you, recognize your physical and emotional reaction, and engage the larger self by asking, “How do I choose to respond?”
by Jen Sellers
Wow. Think of how much time you spend inside, disconnected from the natural world. I say this not to discourage you or disparage you, but to encourage you to reflect.
For example, it’s about 65 degrees outside and gorgeous here in Tucson. I just opened my window. That’s because I reflected for a moment on how much time I spend inside. And then I thought, “Okay, I work from home, for crying out loud – why couldn’t I go sit on a bench in the yard?” So that’s where I am now, a mesquite tree shading my laptop screen. That’s the power of internal reflection. It changes external actions.
There are a bunch of reasons to get outside, as we all know.
I feel more alive just sitting out here. I feel more clear-headed, more connected to myself, and more in my body. Several varieties of birds are singing, the trees are waving gently in a slight breeze, and a small neighbor girl is doing outside chores with her Mom. I am more connected to the world.
When I walk the dog every morning and evening, my body moves, which benefits my mind and my spirit. The left-right motion is good for my brain. If I pay attention, I see patterns of beauty and sometimes patterns of pain. Both connect me with the world outside myself. As I let my mind go, ideas come to me and problems sometimes solve themselves. Wisdom seems to find me. I have more vitality, not only physically, but also emotionally and intellectually.
by Sheri Boone
There’s a really sweet little book by Dr. Seuss called, Oh, the Places You’ll Go. I came into contact with it over 20 years ago when my son was graduating from high school. A friend gave him the book; it was and still is a very popular gift for graduates. Years later, this book was used in my first coach training, illustrating the ups and downs of life – the peaks and valleys that we all go through on this journey.
Lately I’ve been reminded of the book and its message of how normal and natural it is to at one moment be on top of a mountain, on top of my game, with all the excitement and hope that peak provides, and then quite suddenly be in the valley of sadness, loneliness, or even despair, with all of the downward spiraling emotions that are present in that place.
At any given time, a lot of factors can be influencing whether or not we are at the peak or in the valley. And don’t we all prefer to be at the peak? I feel that for the most part, I live in the area of the peak. I’m quite happy and hold a positive outlook. But, once in a while, I find myself deep in the valley. What then? How can I navigate this place and find a path back up the mountain?
by Jen Sellers
I often hear clients use the phrase, “The proof is in the pudding!” They usually say this when they’re going to try something different that they’ve come up with in our coaching session, and they’re not sure how it’s going to work out.
I wonder, does the emphasis on the pudding negate the value of trying something that might fail? If the proof is in the pudding, do we focus so much on the pudding, a desired outcome, that we undervalue our knowledge and intuition and shut ourselves off from an experience that might lead to something even greater?
As I pondered these questions, the phrase came to me: “The power is in the process.” What if the process of making a great pudding is as important as the pudding itself? An outcome is straight-forward and a process can feel complex. Here are four simple questions to get the most power from the process: