We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
As hard as it can be to embody this knowing in every moment, we can create our world more consciously by understanding what is really running and driving us.
Notice. Try to become more aware of what emotions are coming up when things are not as they ‘should be’. It is easy to place the blame externally and leave it at that. “The company is risk averse and slow to change.” “My colleagues are prioritizing their business lines over the company as whole.” “The CFO is just a jerk”. Maybe all of those things have some truth to them. When you have those thoughts, what comes up for you? Frustration, annoyance, apathy, avoidance?
Name it. Get underneath your reactions to find out what is going on at an emotional level. Ask yourself why you are feeling what you are feeling (multiple times if needed) and see if you can distill it down to anger or fear. Then check in to see where it is really directed. Are you angry that you didn’t work harder to influence a decision, or that you didn’t get ahead of something you had an inkling about before it became an issue? Though we rarely acknowledge it, fear is omnipresent in the workplace. Is the root of your frustration about the CEO’s decision based on the fear it creates for you about putting the company and your future career progression at risk?
Allow. Often our instincts are to ignore the deeper emotions we are feeling, afraid that if we really feel them, we will lose what little power we are holding onto. In fact, the opposite is true. Once you examine the emotion or discomfort in the light, more often than not it loses its power. Give yourself permission to own what you feel—with self compassion. We are all angry, scared, hopeless, and sad sometimes and it takes courage to own our uncomfortable emotions. It is far easier to pretend they don’t exist, to downplay them or attribute their cause to someone else. Make peace with their existence and realize you are human. Remember that growth doesn’t happen in your comfort zone, (or in a straight line) and try to judge yourself a little less harshly
Find the power. A client recently described her coaching journey as being willing to feel vulnerable and name emotions that she didn’t want to acknowledge. By being willing to ‘sit in the stew’ for a bit however, she was able to see options and possibilities that weren’t accessible when she was expending energy trying to discount what was really true for her. As a result of her hard work, she now feels more empowered than ever.
Choose what to believe. This is where the fun starts. If there are as many versions of the truth or reality as there are people on the planet, decide what beliefs most empower you—in this moment. What do you want to tell yourself? How can you acknowledge that you are doing the best you can? Or that ultimately you are safe? Be aware of what would make you feel aligned with your highest values—be they trust, community, love or something else, and choose that.
The funny thing about choosing what to believe, is that others will believe about you what you believe about yourself—always. Believe you are not doing as well as you can, that you get angry too quickly, or that you can’t influence others in certain situations? Other people will believe that too.
Believe that you are bringing creativity and fresh thinking to lingering problems or that your leadership is going to get the team where they want to go? Other people will believe that too.
A recent Forbes article advocates taking charge of your day at the start. Do what it takes to start from a place of happiness whether that comes from meditating, exercising, journaling or I would add, spending a few minutes getting in touch with how you want to feel that day. Imagine how you felt in the past during times of happiness and well being and connect with that experience.
The paradox of leading others is that the work we need to do is always internal. Notice, name, and make friends with your emotions. Decide what you want to believe and how you want to lead.
Lead from your power center.