Tag Archive for: TheLeadersNavigator

Dealing with Disruption and Disorder – The Authentic Way

Disruption and disorder have always been a part of the human condition. This reality is often seen at a global level, as in the brutality of terrorism and war, and sometimes more personally, as in the sudden arrival of an illness, an injury, or a personal betrayal. Our work is to embrace times of great difficulty honestly and courageously through the lens of authenticity, allowing the pain to break us open so a stronger, wiser, and kinder self can emerge.

When faced with a global disruption or a personal tragedy, will you become a better person from the disturbance, or will you distract yourself and miss the growth opportunity? Will you use this time to develop your authenticity and connect more deeply with yourself and the world around you, or will you look for diversions to drown out your pain?

Specifically, how can disorder in the world or in our lives make us better people? Here are three simple strategies to resist the tendency to distract during times of disruption and instead take the road less traveled to deepen our authenticity.

Disconnect to connect. Periods of disruption lead to the allure of escapism, particularly the kind that technology can offer to alleviate emotional pain. Programs on our devices are designed to give us relief by drowning out grief. Does the escape these devices offer actually lead to greater well-being? We’d be hard pressed to claim these devices will pilot us into increased mental health.

Connect with your emotions. Binge watching shocking news is different than connecting with your own experience. Take time to ask yourself a few questions:

  • How are these atrocities affecting me? What is my own inner experience?
  • How do I respond to the endless images reminding us of the wars in the world?
  • How do I process the scenes of horror, the carnage in Israel, the Gaza, Ukraine?
  • How do I process the grief?

Last evening, I sat with a friend, who was putting her parents, who stayed with her in Canada over the summer, on a plane back to Israel. They are in their seventies and want to get home to do what they can. Sitting with this woman for just a few moments yesterday made the war more real to me. Connect to yourself. Connect to others. Let life touch you. Don’t let it consume you, but let it touch you, even briefly.

Clarify your values. In search of authenticity, I am inspired by the words of Brad Stulberg in his book, Master of Change, about how to navigate unavoidable upheaval; that a more sustainable response to change can be found in your core values:

When you feel the ground shifting underneath you, when you don’t know your next move, you can ask yourself, how might I move in the direction of my core values? … The portability of core values means that you can practice them in nearly all circumstances. Thus, they become a source of stability throughout change, forging the rugged boundaries in which your fluid sense of self can flow and evolve. Nothing can take your values away from you. They provide a rudder to steer you into the unknown.

There are times in our lives when we are on narrow roads. At those times, we are fools if we try to maintain our usual speed. Disruption is a time to s-l-o-w d-o-w-n when the world seems to be speeding up. Stop and get your bearings. Reset your compass. Clarify your values and renew your commitment to take the small actions that can make a big difference within your sphere of influence.

Value-driven responses are not as immediately enticing as a manic digital escape. These escapes, Cal Newport reminds us: inevitably reveal themselves to be transient and the emotions they’re obscuring eventually return. If you can resist the allure of the easy digital palliative and instead take on the heavier burden of meaningful action, a more lasting inner peace can be achieved.

CREATING A SATISFYING CAREER: How To Reclaim Your Mojo Through the Strength of Authenticity

When my daughters were planning their careers, I referred them to a quote from American philosopher and civil rights leader, Howard Thurman: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask instead, what makes you come alive. Because what the world needs is for you to come alive.”
There lies within every person a place where, when connected to it, we feel deeply and intensely alive. When we are in this place, there is a quiet voice inside that says, “This is the real me.” Where we lose all track of time. Where we don’t tire or need anyone to motivate us. In that place we are calm, creative, compassionate, committed, and capable. We’re accountable because we know that what we are doing matters and makes a difference. This is the place you find your mojo.
When we discover this place of authenticity in our work, it is called a vocation. When our life’s calling lies outside of our paid work, we call it an avocation. Both have validity and energy.
As leaders committed to creating authentic workplaces where people are engaged, loyal, committed, and accountable, we can help people discover their “real me.” Start by asking:
  • What makes you come alive?
  • What matters to you?
  • What is your own personal why, and how is this organization supporting you to realize that why?
  • How can we together create a place where you love to work?
  • What do we need from each other to take care of each other?
One of the primary barriers to finding our authentic voice is the reactive structuring of our lives. Allowing our to-do lists and the demands in our inbox to drive our activities ensures that the expectations of others will crowd out authentic discovery and expression. Combine this with the noise of a distracted world and you’ll eventually realize, in the light of time’s perspective, the vital task we’ve pushed aside – the task of leading a life aligned with our heart.
As we emerge from a summer of rest and fresh perspectives, there is an opportunity to reset the compass of our lives, develop a new structure for staying on track with our authenticity, and recreating a workplace aligned with our true nature.
Here are a few actions to consider:
  • Set aside time to ask the questions (outlined above) of yourself. You must be intentional and deliberate about discovering your authenticity. You can’t leave it to chance.
  • Shift from the list/reactive method to a boundaried focused approach to your work. While you may have parts of your day checking off your to-do list and responding to the expectations of others, block out time each day for uninterrupted focus on what truly is important to you and to those you love and serve.
  • Assess your mental fitness plan. Many of us have a physical fitness plan, but few have a strategy and accountability plan for strengthening our mental fitness.
  • Create a community of support and inspiration. Whether in the form of guides, coaches, confidants, or accountability partners, we all need to know we aren’t alone. Authenticity is a lonely journey, and it can’t be done alone.

Journalling – How To Get Going And Keep Going

Journalling – How To Get Going And Keep Going

Connection to others is critical in good leadership and starts with connection to yourself. Journalling is a great tool for self-connection.

Here are some guidelines to get you going and keep you going:

  1. Buy a nice journal. I love a good leather-covered one I can feel proud to write in.
  2. Have a regular time to write – in the morning, at the end of the day, or, for example, every Sunday morning as you reflect on the past seven days and the week ahead. I like to spend five minutes journalling when I first come in the office, before I turn on my computer. It helps me connect to myself before the barrage of the world’s demands start hitting me.
  3. Experiment with structure. Sometimes journalling is a brain dump, a process I learned from Julia Cameron. Her journalling method is three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing. Other times I use a structure of a) How am I feeling? (Including wins in the past 24 hours, lessons learned, and glitches); b) How will I show up today? c) What am I grateful for?
  4. Write less than you think you “should.” Like exercise, it’s better to have small consistent successes than big failures. Two or three sentences is great while you’re getting into the habit.
  5. Don’t show it to anyone. You aren’t writing to impress anyone. It won’t be graded. It is only for you.
  6. Don’t sweat it if journalling doesn’t work for you. It isn’t for everyone. There are lots of other tools for connecting with yourself.

There’s a principle in boxing that timing beats speed and speed beats power.

There’s a principle in boxing that timing beats speed and speed beats power. Whenever I’m up against my sparing partner and I feel less power, and I “try harder” to be more powerful it never ends well. It weakens my power, decreases my speed, and throws my timing way off.

I’ll never outpower someone who is stronger than me. All I can do is back it up and work on my timing and speed (which, to say the least, is tough at my age).

This is how boxing is similar to leadership. Leaders who don’t acknowledge their weakness or insecurity or fear will “try” to be more powerful by using their positional authority. Like in the boxing ring, this won’t end well. As Margaret Thatcher said once, “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you, you aren’t.”

Leadership, like boxing, is much more about timing than power. When you get promoted, after all, you don’t get more power. You get more accountability.

Like in boxing, work on your timing, your connections, your balance, the fundamentals – and power will naturally follow – through your presence, not your position. “Trying” to be powerful will only weaken you.

My questions for the day:

  • What does “timing” mean in your world?
  • What would you describe as your fundamentals – that increase your ability to influence?
  • How is leadership for you about presence rather than position?

Pruning: Growth Depends on Letting Go Of The Unwanted Or Unessential

We have a thirty-foot rubber tree growing in the middle of our living room. About every six months we have to get up on the ladder and cut back the branches that push into the ceiling and the window.

Leading is akin to gardening, where we co-create an environment around us that enables the flourishing of life. Any gardener knows that pruning is a part of tending to a garden. A plant that is overgrown, gangly, or unhealthy needs to be thinned, cut back, or dug up. In its exuberance to grow, it seems to be the nature of growing things to get overgrown at times. In our case, we prune in order to manage the size of this tree. When it’s overgrown, it will crowd out the very light of the window it’s reaching for.

Like pruning a garden, our lives periodically need some cutting back.

What, in your life or your leadership, needs pruning?

  • What relationships that you have outgrown need to end?
  • What habits need to be re-evaluated and discarded?
  • What clutter in your life needs to be let go of?
  • What needs to end in order to allow for new growth?
  • What people on your team are holding you back and need support to move on?
  • What difficult conversations are needed now?

The Law Of The Echo

Years ago, when I was first teaching about accountability, a young, enthused leader approached me.
“Your philosophy of bringing an ownership, self-responsible mindset to work reminds me of the Law of the Echo.”
“What’s the Law of the Echo?” I asked her.

“It means that whatever you bring to the world will come back to you – ten-fold. It’s like what Gandhi meant when he said, ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world.’ If you want more accountability in your organization, don’t wait for others to step up to the plate. Instead, be more accountable. If you want more love in a relationship, be more loving. If you want more appreciation at work, get so busy appreciating others that you won’t have time to feel sorry for yourself for not getting enough acknowledgement.”

This conversation and explanation of the Law of the Echo has stayed with me for years. It’s worked for me on my team, in my volunteer work, and in my family. It’s a great formula for having a better marriage. It’s a great reminder when I find myself frustrated, blaming, or waiting for someone else to change.

My father likely would have said it this way: “It isn’t greener on the other side of the fence. It’s greener where you water it. “Grow where you are planted,”