Organized for Success – Fall 2016 Sessions now open!

Organized for Success (OFS) series is now open for registration.

 

Learn how to:

1. Stay FOCUSED and on task despite today’s increasing distractions.

2. Be RESILIENT and CALM under pressure; effective with your time.

3. Strengthen DISCIPLINE and HABITS for better impulse control.

Includes:

– a personalized action plan and compelling accountability to follow through more thoroughly.

– key neuroscience  to understand why you do what you do and proven tools for durable habit change.

– powerful in-person, small group confidential coaching to strengthen self-discipline and confidence, especially useful for those making tough decisions and in leadership roles.

Become even more effective as you discover your untapped potential.

Led by award-winning facilitator Sue Drinnan MSc (neuroscience), certified executive coach, author and leadership effectiveness consultant. Series designed with psychiatrists and psychologists to provide the very best of neuroscience, education, practice and support ORGANIZED FOR SUCCESS workshop.

Specialty workshops will be offered at a future time (Women’s only, Start-ups, Middle Managers, etc).

 

A gift that grows when paid forward

“If you ever meet someone brave and powerful enough to walk with you directly through your most uncomfortable wounds and shadow caves—someone with the stupefying courage to see through the chinks of your armour and then help you take it off—love them. Because they have done something for you which is impossible to do alone. They will show you the treasure you’ve been seeking all your life, and they can do this because they aren’t afraid of your fear.”

By Jacob Nordby

Do you have the courage to be that person for a friend?

Frances Macdougal was for me.

And is.

What might you need to have in place in order to more easily pay forward the love that was invested in you by those in your past?

Thank you Frances.

More later.

 

The Leadership Circle Report: The Reveal!

The New Standard for Leadership Development

Insight that Accelerates Leader Effectiveness

When it comes to powerful, durable leadership development, training to competencies alone won’t stick over time and ends up with a weak ROI. For more rapid and lasting results, leaders must gain deeper insight into their behavior and what is driving it. How do you help leaders understand the relationship between how they habitually think, behave, and, more importantly, how it impacts their current level of leadership effectiveness?  The most direct way is to get frank, objective feedback (to compare with their own self assessment) with those who see them in action, such as their boss, boss’ boss, peers, direct reports, clients and so on.  The Leadership Circle feedback report even has an option for family and freinds to share what they see as well, because they can help with self awareness in a unique way.

Several areas must be measured to get a whole picture of leadership effectiveness:

  • LEADERSHIP COMPETENCIES:  the very specific behaviours which lead to achieving results in the workplace e.g PDI, Lominger.
  • ASSUMPTIONS: the set of beliefs we each hold about self, others and how teams work which code the “why” a leader behaves in a certain way and ends up focusing on characteristic competencies in certain conditions e.g Emotional Intelligence, Hogan, FIRO-b.
  • STYLE TYPE and PERSONALITIES: and the tools to help understand the differences in our needs and how members communicate, respond, plan, contribute and impact others e.g. MBTI, DISC.

 

Combining these three areas leads to a more complete picture which has captured what’s going on, why it’s going on, and a pathway for positive change.  These leadership foundations can be summarised in two related dimension: Creative Competencies and Reactive Tendencies

Creative Competencies

Creative competencies contribute to a leader’s effectiveness. They measure key leadership behavior and internal assumptions that lead to high fulfillment, high achievement leadership. They are as follows:
Relating
• Caring Connection
• Fosters Team Play
• Collaborator
• Mentoring & Developing
• Interpersonal Intelligence
Self-Awareness
• Selfless Leader
• Balance
• Composure
• Personal Learner
Authenticity
• Integrity
• Courageous Authenticity
Systems Awareness
• Community Concern
• Sustainable Productivity
• Systems Thinker
Achieving
• Strategic Focus
• Purposeful & Visionary
• Achieves Results
• Decisiveness

Reactive Tendencies

Reactive tendencies are self-limiting leadership behaviors. These dimensions reflect inner beliefs and assumptions that limit effectiveness, authentic expression, and empowering leadership. They are as follows:
Complying
• Conservative
• Pleasing
• Belonging
• Passive
Protecting
• Arrogance
• Critical
• Distance
Controlling
• Perfect
• Driven
• Ambition
• Autocratic

The Leadership Circle feedback report take 25 min and reveals a leader’s operating system–our internal assumptions and beliefs that guide behavior and decisions.  This assessment is the only one which allows managers to see directly how their inner world translates into effective or ineffective leadership.

If you would like to learn more about having a 360 assessment, I would be happy to have a conversation about what might be the best fit for what you are looking for.

Organized for Success Workshop Announced for Feb 2016

Back by popular demand, Tuesday night Organized for Success (OFS) series, just in time for getting the year launched in the right direction.  More

1. Stay FOCUSED on task despite today’s increasing distractions.

2. Be RESILIENT and CALM under pressure, effective with your time.

3. Strengthen DISCIPLINE and HABITS for better impulse control.

7-9 pm 6 Tuesdays in  North Vancouver.  More.

Includes:

– a personalized action plan and compelling accountability to follow through more thoroughly.

– key neuroscience on why you do what you do and proven tools for durable habit change.

– powerful in-person, small group confidential coaching to strengthen self-discipline and confidence, especially useful for those making tough decisions and in leadership roles.

Become even more effective as you step into your untapped potential.

Led by award-winning facilitator Sue Drinnan MSc (neuroscience), certified executive coach, author and leadership effectiveness consultant. Series designed with psychiatrists and psychologists to provide the very best of neuroscience, education, practice and support ORGANISED FOR SUCCESS workshop.

Register now

Upcoming Events

FALL 2016:  UPCOMING EVENTS

1. Organised For Success (OFS)

Designed to help you stay on task despite today’s increasing distractions, to strengthen discipline and resilience to stay clear, calm and confident under pressure.  6 workshop series, fall 2016  (Details below)  http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=p7aq6geab&oeidk=a07ecjdx29if0e275dc

2.  Wisdom Collective CEDAR Leadership Development

Designed for senior leaders and managers who supervise staff and are ready to enhance their leadership presence to engage more effectively and improve working climate and culture (details below).  http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=p7aq6geab&oeidk=a07ed4h29s1d4a72fe2

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Source

Organised For Success

OFS: http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=p7aq6geab&oeidk=a07ecjdx29if0e275dc

Coaching workshop series: 

Are you smart, successful, but a bit distracted sometimes?  Creative, but a bit scattered?

  1. Stay FOCUSED on task despite today’s increasing distractions.
  2. Strengthen DISCIPLINE and HABITS for better consistency and impulse control.
  3. Develop your RESILIENCE under pressure and GRIT to complete those great initiatives.

Includes:

– Six in-person, small group confidential coaching sessions to strengthen self-discipline, confidence and capacity to achieve your highest objectives.

– Learn why you do what you do and master proven tools for durable habit change.

– Follow through with your personalized action plan and enjoy lively support with an accountability to your own potential that is unseen in 1:1 work.

In-person meetings in North Vancouver, Canada.

More info on dates/times/location

 Led by award-winning facilitator Sue Drinnan MSc (neuroscience), certified executive coach, author and leadership effectiveness consultant.  Series designed to provide the very best of neuroscience, education, practice and support.     

___________________________________________

2.  Wisdom Collective CEDAR Leadership Development

Designed for senior leaders who supervise staff and are ready to enhance their leadership presence to engage more effectively and improve working climate and culture.

 

  • Designed for senior managers and leaders who supervise staff  and who are ready to:
  • strengthen your leadership style to achieve greater focus and action
  • apply the neuroscience of resilience, mindfulness and conflict resolution (internal and external) 
  • more effectively engage and motivate others
  • make smarter decisions with wisdom and experience of the room supporting you
  • apply their 360 feedback report to ignite their leadership presence
  • enjoy mentoring and connections from smart, successful peers

In person breakfast meetings in downtown Vancouver, Canada.

Read more about workshop series  dates/times/location

Led by award-winning facilitator Sue Drinnan MSc (neuroscience), certified executive coach, author and leadership effectiveness consultant.  Series designed to provide the very best of neuroscience, education, practice and support.     

http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=p7aq6geab&oeidk=a07ed4h29s1d4a72fe2

 

 

 

Scattered and Distracted?  Your Executive Functions might be impaired.

 

Would people that you live or work with, say you struggle with:

a) Organizing tasks, estimating time, prioritizing, and procrastination?

b) Boredom, sustaining focus, and shifting focus to tasks?

c) Regulating alertness and effort, processing speed?

d) Reading social cues, managing frustration, perspective and modulating emotions?

e) Predicting consequences, utilizing working memory and accessing recall?

f) Impulse control and self-regulation?

What can you do about it??

Could it be ADHD?  Here are some tips to try.

TIP 1: Believe you can stop the impulse.

If you do not think you can stop the action, you are right.  It will feel bigger than you.  You have to not only believe in your heart that you can learn to manage it, but you also have to want to make the effort.  It is slow work.  These are established patterns and likely unconscious patterns and they won’t change quickly.  However, like turning an ocean liner around, it can be done and it will be worth it.  Unhelpful patterns may have felt bigger than you in the past (you “couldn’t help it”), but there is nothing more powerful than the made up mind.  Might not be sufficient on its own, but it is a mandatory component for impulse control.

TIP 2: Role play to practice buying yourself time to think

If you feel a reflex surge (to blurt for example), there is a free, no- charge split second put in there JUST FOR YOU, to buy yourself some time.  There is moment in time where you are actually making a choice (to act or not).  Think of it as a deciding muscle, which you can choose to use, or not.

Next time you are bored (waiting for a bus), recall what it looked like and felt like just before you did a blooper, regretfully acting on an impulse.  Now hit replay and re live that moment again and again in your head being very clear about choosing your response, with a better outcome.  This rewiring an algorythm is no different than an olympic diver or gymnast practicing a pattern in their head.  I’d say it is more in their heart, because it happens to fast that it is a felt motion rather than a thought motion.  Ideas* for buying time (Barkley):

> Before you answer someone, inhale slowly, exhale slowly, put on a thoughtful expression, and say to yourself, “Well, let me think about that.”

> Put a finger over your mouth for a few seconds, as if you’re considering what you’re going to say.

> Paraphrase or clarify and assumption you might need to make about what your boss or family member said to you: “Oh, so you want to know about…” or “You’re asking me to….”

> Imagine locking your mouth with a key to prevent yourself from speaking.

> Slow it down. Practice speaking slowly in front of a mirror. This will give your frontal lobes a chance to get some traction, to get engaged and see the big picture, instead of being swept along in the vortex of your impulses.

Tip 3  Leverage your learning

Do you beat yourself up for making the same mistakes again and again?

Adults with ADHD have weak nonverbal working memory, which means they either don’t recognize or don’t draw well from past mistakes to choose their response. Many of them hit every problem with a hammer, because they haven’t slowed down long enough to look at whether it really is a nail or not.  You must slow down, and ask, “When have I seen this before?  What happened last time?”

It might be extra hard to defer gratification, because they can’t call up the mental image of the prize that lies ahead. Recognise it takes time to access what you learned in the past when you need it in the future.  Like a diabetic, yes, it’s more work to have a healthy, low stress life, but oh so worth it.  There are so many ways you can capture your lessons.  Yes it’s a pain.

Tip 4: Do you prefer carrots or sticks?

Many ADDers are “time blind”; they forget the purpose of their tasks, so of course they are uninspired to finish them. Out of sight, out of mind.

Ask yourself, “What will I feel like when I get this project done?” It could be pride, self-satisfaction, the happiness you anticipate from completing the project. Whatever the emotion is, work hard to feel it, then and there, as you contemplate your goal.

When you sit down to continue working on the project, try to feel the future outcome and use what I call carrot or stick devices such as posting pictures of the rewards (or consequences).

If no one is dangling a carrot in front of you, you may need some convincing to keep up the effort.  When you recall the purpose of the exercise, invoke the felt sense of having it done.  If you are a Carrot person, you will do it because you are motivated by the positive opportunities that will happen and how great it will feel.

If you are a Stick person you will be more motivated by preventing a screw up or other emotionally costly situation (public shame, fines).  It is important to know what kind of projection you need to be focussing on to get motivated.  Each person is galvanized by slightly different aspects.  Know your values = what you really really care about.

 

Tip 5 Break it down to bite size

ADHD makes the future feel even further away.  Goals which require significant investment of time,  repetition, waiting periods, or in a sequence of steps can prove so elusive that you feel overwhelmed with discomfort.  This is a trigger which causes some ADDers to look for an escape and relief. They might call in sick at work or distract themselves when what they need is discomfort tolerance training.  Figure out which situations are likely to trigger you.  Do you panic with:

– multi-month long projects

– complex projects with too many moving parts?

– working without supervision?

3 QUICK TIPS TO GET MOTIVATED:

Break down long-term tasks or goals into smaller units. If an end-of-the-day deadline seems remote to you, try half-hour chunks of work. Write down what you need to get done in each period, and run a highlighter over each step as you work on it, to keep your attention focused.

Make yourself accountable to another person. Most of us care what others think of us, and social judgment adds fuel to the fire to get things done.  Make yourself accountable to a supportive coworker, supervisor, or mentor.

Acknowledge and lock it in  with “I am a person who completes things” with this solid evidence. Congratulate yourself; take a short break; call or e-mail a friend or a relative to recognize what you’ve gotten done; give yourself a reward you enjoy a lot—just make it small and brief.

Tip 6  Watch your language

If you made a mistake, do not let nasty experiences from your past take up space in your head and take over your inside voice (precious RAM that you need today).  Don’t give free rent and language to self contempt, shame and other brutality to identity and worth.  Get the help you need to strengthen your healthy relationship to your choices; what you think , feel and do.  This takes effort.  But you can imagine how nice i would be, to be at peace with it so you have less noise in your head. If you happen to make a mistake, do the same with yourself as you would with a co-worker or dear friend:

  • You own the mistake.
  • You identify why the mistake happened.
  • You apologize and make no excuse by blaming others.
  • You promise to do better next time (putting in place the reminders or other tools to make sure of it)

Do these six tips and you will keep your calm confidence, self-esteem, your job as well as your friends.

You can do this.

 

*Have a look at Ned Hallowell  http://www.drhallowell.com/  and Russell Barkley http://www.additudemag.com/authorID/245.html   have to say.

How hormones make the best leaders

Good leaders make tough decisions. They manage their anxiety, gain the respect of peers, inspire confidence and loyalty with their empathy, and motivate and engage with their resilience.

Are these desirable traits inborn or socialised?  The answer is both.  In my coaching practice, this is especially important for senior leaders under pressure who want to learn to bring out the best in both themselves and those they lead.  But how?

 

Yes, you can learn to manage your hormones.

By collecting hormone levels from research* participants solving problems as a team, a direct correlation was found between leadership effectiveness and the ratio of testosterone to cortisol (both are steroid hormones in your blood)

Testosterone (normally present in both males and females) is associated with assertiveness, competitive behavior and sensitivity to status, while cortisol, known as “the stress hormone”, kicks in when we feel fearful or threatened (fight or flight). The most aggressive individuals did not make the best leaders. On the contrary, high testosterone was actually a disadvantage when paired with high cortisol.

 

While individuals with the high testosterone/low cortisol profile tended to approach problems through a “challenge” framework, participants with high levels of both hormones were more likely to view stressors as threats, and react with avoidance and submission, for both men and women.

 

Feed forward and make a change

Hormones directly influence our behavior, but our behaviour also can affect our hormone levels.  The hormonal changes we can implement won’t be as fast as a fight or flight response, but we can definitely launch and healthier more effective hormone profile which is especially needed when leading others.

it is possible to manipulate hormonal levels by posing the muscles of the body. The muscles trigger the brain to produce the desired hormones. A Power Pose is when you make your body as large as possible.  What athletes do when they win:  both arms high up in the air, chest out, head tilted back, and mouth open.  This position is assumed even by blind athletes when they win even if they have never seen anyone assume this pose.  Baboons assume this position when they triumph or wish to frighten an enemy.

 

Maintaining this position for two minutes can increase testosterone production and reduce cortisol levels. Feeling more calm and assertive can be invoked  by your body positioning.

 

The researchers also specifically measured the effect of two minutes keeping arms tight by one’s side and legs clamped together.  It reduced production of testosterone and increased production of cortisol.  In other words, you can trigger agitation and lack of assertiveness through the way you position your body.  Think of cultures who force those being dominated into this position.  It works.  Yikes.  Please share this post to help empower those who need your support.

 

What you can do about it

Exercise: decrease your cortisol levels and reduce stress.

Sleep: Getting too little sleep can lead to increased cortisol in the afternoon.

Be mindful: How we assign meaning to an event directly influences hormone levels. When you’re anticipating a competition or a status challenge, testosterone levels go up. Reacting to the situation as a threat will cause cortisol levels to rise. Through coaching and mindfulness practices, we can train ourselves to stay calm confident and reframe stressful situations.

Be available to connect:  Leadership is about relationships.  A hormone that increases our attention to social information is oxytocin, which is released through intimacy and bonding. Increased oxytocin levels may help with increasing affiliation and team bonding in the workplace — but only when people see themselves as being on the same team.

Use what you know for the good of all:  We know a good leader when we see one.  We feel it in our gut.  Now that you know this, do you have a choice but to use it to contribute your best in making this world a better place?

 

In summary…

Decision makers who want to identify natural leaders look for individuals who stay cool under pressure, negotiate well and  view problems as a challenge which can be resolved rather than a threat to avoid.  The leaders who had high testosterone and low cortisol persisted in the face of failure and were best able to adapt in high-pressure situations.

 

How can you use neuroscience to be the best coach and leader that you can be?

Where in leadership situations do you think this could be best applied?

 

I look forward to reading your comments.

 

*Dana Carney, Amy Cuddy, and Andy Yap.  “Power posting brief nonverbal displays affect neuroendocrine levels and risk tolerance.” PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE,21,10, 2010, pp. 1363-1368.

 

McDermott, Rose, “Testosterone, Cortisol, and Aggression in a Simulated Crisis Game” (2006). Hendricks Symposium–Department of Political Science. Paper 5.  http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/politicalsciencehendricks/5

 

Going Too Fast to Say No? How to Strengthen Your Self-Discipline Muscle

Q: You went flat out all week but never completed your critical task.  What happened?

A: You forgot to slow down.

Here is an analogy.  I love mountain biking.  The gnarlier the path the better. But sometimes I get so caught up in negotiating the next rocks and drops that I fly right past the turnoff. I end up lost. Sometimes I have to climb all the way back up.

Have you ever been in the flow like this, where you completely loose track of time?  It feels so good!  You just don’t want it to stop. But what was the cost of having to repair the mistake? Sometimes in hindsight it was totally worth the cost.  But at other times, we are only able to listen to the strongest medicine such as a missed business deal, an accident or a fling that cost the marriage for our self awareness to develop. Often it is the worst costs that force our long-term focus to mature. These are the lessons that change our behaviour.

Impulse Control:  Indulgence is a textbook ADHD symptom.

Some mountain bikers say they are going too fast to prevent a mistake about ten percent of the time.  So far, it has been blind luck that they haven’t been injured.  And they are fine with it.  Being too “in the moment” in the workplace might include forgetting to follow-up on an initiative, getting a parking ticket, or enjoying researching for an article for way too long.

How does one become aware when they have derailed from their task?  When lost in the moment people can become blind to choices we are making.

The solution is to develop the habit of checking if you are present.  But that can only happen when you have decided, and I mean really decided, that the direction you are taking is what you truly want.

I recommend using a reminder device.  An elastic.  An egg timer.  A ring.  A bracelet.  Or post it notes.  Set calendar appointment alarms with questions in the title.  Anything that will cause you to ask yourself: “Am I actually doing what it is that I want to be doing with this time?”

I have found that strengthening our self-discipline muscle means being fine with saying no to indulgences and wanting to say yes to what it is we really need.  Saying no means that you can stay focused on what you really want to say yes to.

Believing in yourself and your vision is a necessity.  But it’s not enough.  You need to make the decision you want it enough to do the work.  This means living like a person who earns it especially when nobody is looking.  Have you ever had a moment when you suddenly become aware of what you are doing e.g. you pulled out of the driveway to the left as if you were going to work, but you needed to go right?  You snapped out of autopilot.  Congratulations!  We can do the same thing just as we slip into an indulgence that might protect us from social threat, or from feeling uncomfortable from effort.  Snap out of your autopilot and into your presence so that you are aware of what choices you are really making.  Once you have decided for yourself the rest is much much easier. A coach can help with this.

If I asked you when you have done this before, you would give me a long list of when you did a great job of snapping back into being present.  You can do this: it is a question of degree and how much you want it.

Self-discipline bootcamps can help you address sudden urges. Or coaching support can help you train your new thinking habits and action reflexes to step up to what you are capable of.

My guess is you already have lots of grit, just look at what you have accomplished so far.  But could you accomplish more if you had better impulse control?  If you managed your focus more effectively, what could you achieve? Evaluate if the cost of indulgences is getting too expensive at this point in your life. If you could do it alone with the tools and support you presently have, you would have done so already.

How to Believe in Your Ability to Succeed

This is Called Self-Efficacy

Self-efficacy is the belief that one is able to successfully think, behave and feel in a particular situation.  Psychologist Albert Bandura emphasized the silent conclusions we draw about ourselves through the ups and downs of growing up.  These conclusions develop our belief set and adult personality. For example, one may conclude that a success was well earned or may think that it was just a fluke. We also see this when one says that a certain failure is “normal for me and just part of my brand”.  A person’s attitudes, abilities, and cognitive skills are in a way both the product and determinants of our success.

The Role of Self-Efficacy

Virtually all people can identify goals they want to accomplish, things they would like to change, and things they would like to achieve. However, most people also realize that putting these plans into action is not quite so simple. Bandura and others have found that an individual’s self-efficacy plays a major role in the meaning assigned to experiences (“what this event says about me”) and how goals, tasks, and challenges are approached.

People with a strong sense of self-efficacy:

  • View challenging problems as tasks to be mastered
  • Develop deeper interest in the activities in which they participate
  • Form a stronger sense of commitment to their interests and activities
  • Recover quickly from setbacks and disappointments

People with a weak sense of self-efficacy:

  • Avoid challenging tasks
  • Believe that difficult tasks and situations are beyond their capabilities
  • Focus on personal failings and negative outcomes
  • Quickly lose confidence in personal abilities

Sources of Self-Efficacy

These beliefs form in early childhood with the wide variety of social experiences, attempted tasks, and outcomes. Luckily, the growth of self-efficacy continues throughout life as people acquire new skills, awareness and understanding.

According to Bandura, there are four major sources of self-efficacy.

1. Mastery Experiences

“The most effective way of developing a strong sense of efficacy is through mastery experiences,” Bandura explained. Performing a task successfully strengthens our sense of self-efficacy. Failing to adequately deal with a challenge can weaken it if we view it as a character flaw, rather than simply a lack of training or effort for example.

2. Social Modeling

Witnessing other people successfully completing a task is another important source of self-efficacy. According to Bandura, “Seeing people similar to oneself succeed by sustained effort raises one’s belief in one’s capabilities to master comparable activities and to succeed.”

3. Social Persuasion

Bandura also asserted that people could be persuaded to believe that they have the skills and capabilities to succeed if they have sufficient evidence.  Consider a time when someone said something positive and encouraging that helped you own, focus on and achieve a goal. Getting verbal encouragement from others helps people overcome self-doubt and give their best effort to the task at hand.

4. Psychological Responses

Our emotional reactions to situations play an important role in self-efficacy. Moods, emotional states, physical reactions, and stress levels all impact what a person decides about their abilities in a particular situation. A person who became extremely nervous before speaking in public may come to a conclusion about their incompetence, weakening their self-efficacy in similar future situations.  Importantly, Bandura notes “it is not the specific intensity of emotional and physical reactions that is important but rather how they are interpreted.”

Mindset

By learning how to manage your mindset when facing difficult experiences, you can improve your self-efficacy.

Stanford Professor Carol Dweck categorizes two types of mindsets. In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. They’re wrong.

In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities. http://mindsetonline.com/whatisit/about/


Blog post adapted from: http://psychology.about.com/od/theoriesofpersonality/a/self_efficacy.htm
Bandura, Albert “Self-Efficacy: Toward a Unifying Theory of Behavioral Change”, 1977.

Managing a Brain Designed to Notice Fear (ours and others’)

  • The place where fear lives has no eyes….

It is that primordial.   We choose what to fear, even though our fear-response is so fast it seems involuntary. Indeed, part of our brain is actively scanning for danger every 400 ms as we go about our day, so we are filtering innumerable data signals from our environment. How empowering to realize that we alone assign meaning to the events in our lives.  I see a dog and I feel love, but you may feel terror.   Whether that is chosen or not varies by the state the person’s in, their context, and even changes for that individual over time.

Yes, we fabricate fear.  And thank goodness.   We learned as children to actively and intelligently choose to assign meaning to threatening facial expressions as dangerous for example, because acceptance and belonging often meant survival more than self-actualization.  Not because those threatening faces would cause us physical pain by biting us as a sabre-toothed tiger might, but perhaps because of the risk of equally powerful emotional pain such as risk to our sense of belonging/acceptance, credibility/worth; when a value we hold dear is in danger of being breached, we have learned to assign and respond with fear.  Research has shown that emotional pain is recorded in the same region of our brain as physical pain when measured by functional MRI.  Not surprising then, that days and lifetimes spent in threatening environments develop hair triggers and unconscious emotional drives determined to have our needs met.  Since our emotional brain has no access to logic, strategies it chooses to address unmet needs may turn out to be brilliant, or destructive.  But I’ll post about that another day.

Triggers are assigned meaning based on what we experience

These fight-flight-freeze risk triggers were lifesaving and secured our survival when our prehistoric ‘big brain’ intellect/executive functions were being remodeled, so long ago.   The importance of triggers was locked in because they protected us well when we learned from our lived experiences (fear/pleasure) which shaped our stone-age best guess ‘prediction algorithm’. Worked great then, but our living conditions have completely changed.  Our limbic Fight-Flight-Freeze system wiring hasn’t noticed or kept pace.  So accept it.  It is your and my job to learn to manage our emotions e.g. to listen closely to our hopes, expectations and fears, and to ask what is truly at stake here?

Don’t be swept away by your own emotion and monkey mind chatter.

How?  By learning to recognize what is helpful, and what isn’t. Yes, definitely listen to your intuition, then slow down so you can ask “is this fact or fabrication?”  Do your best to align your opinion with objective data. Substantiate the stories you tell yourself by double-checking how others perceive your assumptions about the world; our and others’ intentions and future potential. Reflect on the real meaning of that busy internal running commentary we call “monkey mind chatter” about what is going on about and around you.   What genuine human need is surfacing?  Then you can more easily reassure and quiet your inner dialogue enough so that you can here and be present with the person, priority or process which you are facing in the moment.  This mindful living helps us to be enriched by the experiences of others, to meaningfully track our achievement and development, and to more accurately contribute to our lives and the lives of others.

We can ONLY be mindful by starting with ourselves.

Our life is a forest of different relationships and YES it is much harder to be Calm, Focused, Positive and Compassionate when we are being watched, judged or criticized by others. The fact is, we don’t know how others are interpreting us, so we’re most often distracted or accosted by our perception of what things mean.  Sometimes it can be relentless or worse, violent and merciless. It helped us to be vigilant and on our toes.  The system that was most successful produced a being who was a guarded nervous wreck, but alive.  The easy-going non-triggered beings unworried about acceptance, belonging or that shadow in the background ended up ostracized and/or as a lion’s lunch.  By that design, feeling unsafe was a good thing indeed because it meant survival. Now fast forward to today and this same excellent system which wired a “meaning-making” drive to lock in early learning, now has to be honored, soothed and reassured.  Have empathy when a person feels unsafe and insecure.  Their emotional brain “knows” it is crazy dangerous out there and they would be a fool to let their guard down and be vulnerable.

Have empathy, for yourself and others.

When a jackal is ready to bite you if you make a mistake, it is much less painful and in fact healthier to be guarded, vigilant and keenly sensitive to how our environment needs us to be, in order to reduce risk of injury.   We are keenly wired to avoid mere discomfort, let alone actual pain. We wouldn’t have survived as a species if we didn’t have these innate forces driving us.  But if the pain is generated from experiences in the past, today we DO have a say in managing the voice differently.  It is a voice we have internalised.  If you have Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs) , know you also have the agency needed to make a change.  You CAN step up to be the best version of yourself, rather than a compromised guarded one that is wisely protected from potential dangerous judgmental events from the past.  Be bold.  Be yourself.   Don’t hide what you can contribute to the world.

ANYONE can learn this.

Know that you impact others, every moment, in every conversation.  In the same way your spidey sense know when others are nervous or out for only themselves, they also unconsciously notice how you are showing up.  Like it or not. Think of leaders in your past.  You have likely been inspired by those who are confident and helped you to feel confident and competent when in their presence.  Know that you too can choose the impact you have on those you interface with, by you being courageous and being your best.   Recall that “we may not remember what he or she said, but we always remember how they made us feel”.   You get to choose how you want to be remembered.

You can’t “try” to inspire others.  It must be earned.

Other’s must choose to be inspired by you.  You must earn their trust for them to truly hear what you have to say.  You need to be safe with yourself before they will feel safe with you.  Only then will THEY feel safe to be the real them, with you. At the end of the day, inspiring others isn’t something you do as much as how you are being.  How you show up as a leader especially under duress, sits squarely in and is founded by your relationship with yourself.  Be aware of your concerns, and how they show up in your leadership presence.   Think you can hide them?  Think again.

Leaders know things are done most effectively by bringing out the best in others.

When others trust and believe in themselves, the team is happier and gets more done, and you will get more done as their leader.  Remember: being a leader is not about you. You will achieve far more and be better protected from burnout when you can better inspire others by being aware of and more effectively directly addressing tension and fears, then highlighting felt values and hope.  It is an approach to life, like a mindset brought to your day-to-day job, rather than an action or task that can be perfected.  In the same way we can never revisit the river, it is a moment to moment interaction, a presence, which shapes the relationship.   Each conversation is unique.  Leaders inspire trust in self. Leaders give hope.

Be the leader that others want to work with because of the way you MAKE THEM FEEL.

We each have a chance to be a leader in every moment.  It is a decision.  Choose to be in the moment, attending to those you are with and being aware of unmet needs which might be at play, and what will help others be courageous and commit to being their best.   These are not rules or absolutes.  They are mere thoughts and perspectives gained from my experiences which might apply in certain contexts and may provide a new lens. I would love to hear if any parts ring true (or don’t) for you? What have you found works better for you?