Monday, June 23, 2014

Staying Centered in the Midst of Constant Interruptions

We were sitting together over lunch when he shared that he was exhausted, and that he had lost his passion for the work. He was overwhelmed by new endless projects plus doing his regular job. From my perspective, he had reached the end of his rope, and it was a sad, frustrating and difficult situation.

As I reflected on what he was saying, I remembered the following quote by Carl Jung: “Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart... Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” Looking inside is hard work and important work. Listening to one’s heart is complex and yet important.

Norman Vincent Peale and Ken Blanchard noted that we have two selves, namely our external task-oriented self and our internal reflective self. Most people are only living with their external focused, task-oriented self. They do not take time or give themselves permission to take time for the internal reflective self, mostly because it is a longer and more deliberate process 

In a world of hyper action and constant interruptions, Ken and Margie Blanchard in the book, The Best of Personal Excellence - Volume 1, Executive Excellence Publishing, 1998, noted we need to “gain a balance between success and fulfillment.” Fulfillment is about “connecting your life and work, connecting spirituality, and balancing time at work with your family and friends.” Rabbi Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People contends that there are two acts in life. Act 1 is “Achieve” and Act 2 is “Connect.” Achieve is about setting goals and completing them. For many this is all that matters. Connect is about fulfillment in relationships, health and spirituality

I think one major challenge this summer for leaders is to rediscover what it means to stay centered, i.e. how to find calmness in the midst of chaos. I have learned from others and from my own experience as an executive coach that when there is chaos on the outside it often reflects chaos on the inside. Linda Rosh and Lynn Offermann in their article, “Be Yourself, But Carefully.” Harvard Business Review, October 2013, note that “Authenticity begins with self-awareness: Knowing who you are - your values, emotions and competencies - and how you are perceived by others.” This helps tremendously when seeking to stay centered.

Another element of staying centered happens when we are willing to co-evolve. I find too many people today who are living as a community of me. They are widely connected and completely isolated. While this may help in coping with change, we need to evolve in a collective, rather than individual manner because the support from co-evolution is vital to process all of the difficulties associated with change. This can take place when we build shared purpose rather than individual purpose into our lives. Start this process in your life by asking the following questions:

- Why do we come together to do this work?
- Who are we?
- What matters to us?

It is time this summer to reteach people about how to live and work in a community, not just on teams. When people have valued roles in the community, then we take care of each other with compassion and respect.

Geery Howe, M.A. Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change Morning Star Associates 319 - 643 - 2257

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