Noble Intentions for 2012: With the New Year upon us rather than focus on resolutions, create future-focused intentions – but, don’t get stuck in ones that are self-serving versus in service to others. We can get more energy with confidence and responsibility by rising up to realize a bigness in ourselves to make a true difference. Focus on the cathedral we are building, not the bricks and mortar, yet recognize our humanness and consider the stepping stones to get to that intention regardless of its size or complexity.
Managing Expectations without Disappointment: The biggest cause of disappointment, discouragement, derailing and even depression is unmet expectations of ourselves and others. For the highest good of all concerned, we shouldn’t lessen our expectations but rather lessen our attachment to them – recognizing we may be on the right path, but not according to our timeline or ability to control. This is an opportunity to reframe the picture of success, recover and move forward.
Overcoming the Wall of Fear: When confronted with a sizeable challenge, it is smart to assess if pressing forward is worth it, or if the challenge is a sign we are off track and need to go in a new direction. In its worst form, such a challenge looms as a wall of fear. Taking small steps and insuring we are staying true to our purpose will prevent us from ignoring the reality and repercussions, and pressing forward out of balance. Is this really my last chance? Who really cares? If it’s meant to be, it will be.
Intentioned-based vs. Fear-based Actions: As leaders (parents, too!) our most critical and often challenging role is to guide others through change. Fear-based action results in having to sell the change, often manipulate conditions, and outguess reactions while being out of balance and under the gun. Coupled with sufficient time for those affected to settle in, intention-based action prompt us to openly set priorities from a foundation of mutual understanding. This enables everyone to engage and address reactions together.
Accountable Agreements to Improve Your Relationships: How many times we get caught in the trap of not having our needs being met through our relationships with others, only to realize we never had an agreement – the WHAT – with a mutually-understood context at the onset. Having a clear, common picture of the desired outcome coupled with trust, genuine care for yourself and others, and wisdom to anticipate and be open to the need for recovery lead to a norm of staying on track.
Valuing Others to Increase Your Value: The more we value others, the more we add value and power to them. A multiplier effect results enabling us to increase our combined strength with others, leading to our individually expanding our impact and becoming indispensable. This is not about the building of a personal marketing brand, but rather our being seen via an expression of appreciation and gratitude – how people “get us.” Becoming indispensible is dependent upon our freely adding value to others.
Making Yourself Indispensible: This is not about position, power or ego. Successful, respected people know their self-worth and do not imagine themselves as victims even when times are hard and things appear “unfair.” This is about taking charge, overcoming obstacles, and achieving your dreams at work, at home, and in life. No one can make you indispensible but you – be purpose driven, play big, be adaptable, be “we” instead of “me” centered, be priority focused, and most important add to and value others.
Letting Go to Step into Your Power: Having a clear purpose bigger than oneself pulls us to play big and let go of the past, in particular self judgment and being small and self-centered. Shift us to value others through inclusion. Life’s setbacks are just part of being human, normal, and learning. We need to replace past history with a new desired history (forgive, not necessarily forget), and envision a future of what we want, not what we are giving up or avoiding in the picture – craft an entrance vs. endure an exit strategy.
Feeling Stuck? Turning Disappointment into Enthusiasm: When we feel hopeless or stuck, it is critical to take our power back and pull out of the victim loop or spiral – ward off ignoring, denying, blaming, rationalizing, resisting and hiding. Create a new picture that is focused not on ourselves, but the larger organization, family or relationship with people special to us. This will feed a fire of enthusiasm to go forward – recognize what is not working, own our part, forgive ourselves and others, self-examine, learn, and take action. Accountability leads to counting on ourselves and others.
Dropping the Prefixes from Devalued and Unappreciated: When you feel as if even when you put your very best work forward it still isn’t getting recognized by others, the first place to go to get ahead is to start from a place of seeing value in others. Come up with a plan around two key actions: a) when I am at work, I will do my best to value those around me, and compliment them for their contributions and positive qualities, and b) when I go home or have personal time, I will express value in myself. What we openly project will bring others around to seeing our value and appreciate us in time.
Dealing with Disappointment without Being Disappointed: It is the human response to feel disappointment when things do not go the way we expected. But, are we setting ourselves up at the onset with unrealistic expectations? If we had a reasonable expectation, did we get too comfortable too soon or overstate or oversell – and can we treat every situation as an opportunity to learn, so it builds our muscles and allows the quickest rebound possible? How we “parent ourselves” through the feeling of hurt provides movement, not mulling or numbness, to get on to the next steps on our path.
Mayday! Mayday! Are we sinking or just taking on a little water? Leaders often feel they need different types of teams with different types of action plans for radical change efforts and continuous improvement change projects. Mark and Zara discuss the differences and the similarities of both types of change agendas, and in particular how often it takes radical steps to keep continuous improvement moving forward, and how sustainable radical change requires more measured continuous improvement steps in the process. The challenge for both lies in responding with urgency without a sense of crisis, and make mindful choices that allow everyone to move in the same direction.
Establishing a Successful Partnership: Frankly, partnerships are the most vulnerable associations that we can have in our personal and professional lives. The model to allow them to work is often complex and dynamic, dependent on what each member brings to the table, what is going on between members, and external influences. For the most successful personal life and business partnerships, both parties need to play three roles – leader, subordinate and partner at different times. Assessing our core competencies and the range of our task passions (excellence to don’t do so well) allow us to identify how best to overlap with others, and where our opportunities for growth are.
Putting Action into Motion: Setting goals and target dates for teams is NOT the essence of accountability, surprisingly enough, to get sustainable action. It is important to break big steps into smaller moves and make sure everyone is involved at the right time, with agreement as to what is the very first clear ACTION required for a step and who is going to do it – actual movement as opposed to just a desire to do something.
Are You Running Away from Success?: Real success – planning and playing BIG – often results in our needing to be more vulnerable, stretching outside beliefs that may have served us well in the past, and going into the unknown – trusting we can do things we have never done before, in ways we may not be fully prepared to tackle. If you are locked in a pattern of constriction or undermining yourself, remove the self-critic and take stock in your capabilities and track record of prior successes
Learning, Learning, Learning – The ONLY Game in Town: In the spirit of the Olympic Games underway, we are reminded of the criticality of practicing, and embracing the failure-to-learning cycle. Learning is an experience in hindsight resulting from when we stay in the game. It occurs through reflection and embracing an attitude of non-judgmental observation. We are not in any game alone, whether sports or business, and being able to play off one another allows us to even out individuals’ cycles of energy and play off one another to allow creativity and innovation to happen.
Getting Started – The Key to Achievement: Far too often we can overthink things and get stuck in place as our energy backs up on us, creating emotional anxiety, worry or fear, which can lead to physical upset. While it is important to have a general plan to guide you or a team’s actions, mental “perfectioning” can get and keep us stuck with dead energy. You can’t plan what you don’t know, because you don’t have the experience to know. Being very present and taking the first step and then another first step and another move us forward.
Closure – The Foundation for High Energy and Efficiency: Getting to the completion of a task big or small recharges us and helps us move forward to the next opportunity with a clear head and renewed energy. Even resizing and finishing something “for now” allows us to keep integrity with ourselves. This is why multitasking is a ruse – juggling multiple things ineffectively drives incomplete, unfinished work which weighs on us. We then fall prey to judgment and reactions that distract us from priorities. Start something with an end in mind.
Accountability – Does it happen before or after the act?: Accountability begins before we do something, where we are clear on what we want. Life is comprised of a round of experiments where misses are an opportunity to learn, raise our hand and ask for support from others, try, try again, and set up the future. If accountability is defined as a condition after the act, it is a punishment – who to pin for what didn’t happen. Instead of holding ourselves to a standard of perfection to “get it right the first time”, embrace the chance to “fix it right the first time” and shift your consciousness to learning.
Going beyond Achieving to Embodying Goals: Embodying a goal means something becomes sustainable and that when we look back, we are refreshingly surprised that the former condition or situation is not there anymore. In that most goals relate to the physical realm, they are often achieved but then unachieved, and we are pressed to repeat the cycle. Sustainable achievement – embodiment – calls for a mindset change which will give us then an ability to deal with the emotions and feelings that can undermine our willpower.
The Cross-Cultural Relevance of Accountability: A competitive world is opening up new opportunities and challenges to all of us. One of the most powerful levers of accountability that transcends nationality or culture is cross-functional teaming – our getting beyond the silos that we live in (organizationally and personally) which we may or may not even realize are minimizing our effectiveness. Listen to Mark’s story of traveling to the Middle East to lead a groundbreaking Strategy & Accountability Workshop for the leaders of the Saudi Arabian power utility industry.
Trusting the Right Voices to Overcome Our Limiting Beliefs: It is so important to quiet ourselves and listen, particularly during episodes of chaos, disappointment or fear. We need to be wary of how our thinking mind dominates and pushes us to problem solve. Take a step back and acknowledge your emotional drivers and keep reactive voices at bay. Stay open to different approaches to the circumstances in which we find ourselves, as low and behold the best strategy may be to do nothing, as there may be nothing really there that needs to be addressed!
Remember to Thank Yourself: While quite often we measure progress in terms of how we contribute to other people’s lives, it is so very important to acknowledge our own progress – even getting through the day – by saying “Thank You!” for all our efforts and the compound learning. What did I do well and how can I do it again? This is not a doing thing per se, but a personal attribute to remind us to stay purpose driven, steering clear of like and dislikes, or getting stuck in negativity. We can either surf the wave of change or fight it; but, either way there is still going to be a wave!
Is “Confusion” Blocking You from Success?: Confusion can flip on like a defense mechanism when we are afraid of change, automatically shutting us down. Slow down, relax, acknowledge we do not have to get everything right the first time, and ask for help. Sometimes we really are confused and not clear about information we need; but be wary of hiding or staying confused, which can turn into passive aggressive behavior. Change is not about being perfect, it is about experimentation, adventure and even fun so long as we are learning and adjusting. Which we have to do anyway, so why not play into it?!
Using the Question “I wonder how …” to Shift from Worry to Possibility: When we are unsure of what to do next, wondering is so much less stressful than worrying and cranking ourselves into a potentially directionless doing mode. If business slows down or projects do not meet our expectations and a break in the action unfolds, be wary of your safety mechanism of worrying kicking in. Instead, view this not as a derailment or slump, but a time to prepare and get ready for something new launching – a signpost to you are headed in a new direction. Wait, sit and be silent, and mentally open to what is reaching towards us. Ask a wonder question each night, and how will “it” show up?
Copyright The Larsen Group: Architects of Change 2008