Being aware of yourself is a precursor to creating change; even just changing your own self focus can create a small shift. It’s the piece that will prepare us for building new mindsets to handle whatever comes our way. This isn’t a new concept but we all know leaders who don’t embody this personal quality. This past decade has shown us that organizations are becoming flat. They are requiring leaders to redefine what their role is and its effect on their teams.
Being able to observe ourselves without judgement is a mature, developmental level that enables us to have an “inner” observer that observes what is happening right here and now. What are our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations at this given moment? While our inner observer is always available, it takes discipline to tap into it because we are often not there is much going on that pulls at our attention. We often miss the signals that can make or break an interaction, our response to a situation or the outcome that we have in mind.
Being self-aware is emotional as well as physical. The more ways we are aware, the more possibilities of choice we have. One way to feel your sense of physical awareness is by breathing. When we feel the physical center of our bodies we know that we are a part of the universe. A bigger world. This is also the place in our bodies where we are able to center ourselves. Some people say, “when something isn’t to our liking to take a deep breath.” This is precisely where this comes from.
The first step in becoming self-aware is to set aside time each day to do reflective work. This can be as simple as quieting your mind which can reduce your anxiety. As you take a breath, feel how your heart rate slows down, sit with it. Give yourself time to embody this calmness. Brain research tells us that having a calm body encourages clearer insights and better decision making. I suggest putting this on your calendar as would any other scheduled event. Start with 15 minutes a day, 3 times a week. Try to make this a habit for best results. Somatic research shows that this experience of embodiment, once made a regular practice, will embed new patterns in your brain.
Once we embody a deepened sense of self, the next phase is to separate yourself into two parts – the observer and the person being observed. Ask yourself these 3 questions:
Can I see myself in a new way? What could it look like?
What new energy do I feel since I have looked at this in this way?
What new opportunities do I have yet to see?
The Nuance of Language and Social Cues Facial expressions are hard to detect and writing and speaking virtually takes away vocal inflections, making proper wording extremely important. Adding to this, many organizations are filled with people from around the globe, meaning you could be interacting with someone with English as their second language. This makes it easy for people to misread or misunderstand what is being said. In helping people be productive, allow for pauses, slow down the pace. Take a moment before every meeting to breath and be present. Ask yourself “am I being my best, open self?” Listen to people to connect with them on a human level, try to put aside any judgement or opinion of them – just be there to hear what they have to say.
Judith Glaser, author of Conversational Intelligence, was a cultural anthropologist. She used the words, “double click” to ensure messages were received as intended. The next time you are unsure if the conversation is clear to both parties, try these words by saying, “I’d like to double click on that,” and see where it takes you.
Research from Stanford shows “9 out of 10 conversations miss their mark.” Why is this? Conversations have the ability to trigger emotions. We communicate through our inner realities, thus making communications challenging under regular circumstances. Language can either build trust between people or silo them.
“Words create worlds and these worlds create cultures.”
Recalibrating During this unpredictable time leaders must move forward rather than stay where they are, our brains love predictability. This is why when we’re in control, and things are predictable, we feel good. Sometimes it’s real, sometimes not. Don’t you feel better when you know what your day looks like? A suggestion is to think about what you can do NOW. This is a great time to learn a new skill, begin writing down your emotions while sheltering in place, check in with friends and see how they’re doing, read the book you’ve been putting off, discover new gifts that you have.
People in leadership roles want to recalibrate what’s reasonable to expect during this time. Ask themselves questions like:
What has this crisis opened up for yourself and you people?
What new competencies do I need to use right now? Am I skilled in these areas?
Do I need help?
How can I create a sense of safety for my team?
What additions could I create for my weekly agenda that would encourage more trust between my team members?
Circle back and tell me what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org
Image Credit: Tindaro sculpture by Igor Mitoraj in La Defense, Paris
Photo by Samantha L Strauss