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If you’re not working in earshot from others, try out this tongue twister – it’s a formidable intro to acquiring a crucial leadership skill:
I slit a sheet, a sheet, I slit.
Upon a slitted sheet, I sit.
This article is indeed about leadership and not about perfect pronunciation. Let me explain. A while ago, I noticed that people around me started to develop a serious lisp. It started with family members and spread to clients and colleagues, and I almost wondered if there was something like a speech bug going around that was contagious.
I kept those puzzling observations to myself but when my husband muddled his “s”s during a dinner conversation, I couldn’t contain myself and blurted: “What is going on with everyone around me starting to lisp all of a sudden?” I earned surprised looks. “What are you talking about?” “Why is everyone slurring their s’s?” More befuddled looks around the dinner table. And denial! I asked the family to say one of my favorite tongue twisters and there! There it wath! Like thomething from a thlapthtick movie!
After much discussion, research, and a trip to a specialist, the diagnosis was confirmed: People around me did not suddenly develop speech impediments. It was me! I had lost 50% of my mid- to high-range frequency hearing in one ear, and I could no longer easily distinguish between “s” and “f” sounds.
The coach in me said “duh!!”
How unlikely was it that the rest of the world was “all wrong” and I was perfect? Why didn’t I check in with myself to see whether the issue was maybe ME? My ENT specialist explained that hearing loss usually happens gradually, and the brain does an excellent job compensating until a certain threshold is crossed and the hearing gap can no longer be closed. The hearing becomes muddled and strained. Meanwhile, the listener is trying to make sense of this new sensation, often looking for external explanations, unable and perhaps unwilling to figure out what is really going on. A perfect example of a true blind spot.
Blind spots: Do you have them or do they have you?
Blind spots in a car hide a part of the driver’s field of vision. Since any objects inside those blind spots are not visible, a driver may act as if they are not there at all, such as pulling in front of a car that was traveling in the rear blind spot. When we talk about psychological blind spots, we refer to the inability to see perspectives other than those directly apparent to us.
Princeton University psychologist Emily Pronin created the term bias blind spot. It refers to our inability to realize our own cognitive biases and it represents our tendency to think that we are less biased than others. We think we see things in an objective and rational way, while others have a biased judgment. Our ability to recognize and adapt our way of thinking and acting is thereby limited. We typically do not have problems recognizing blindspots in others, which indicates that it is not a matter of ignorance but rather of a motivated ignorance. We choose – more or less consciously – not to know more, not to deepen, not to understand, and to protect the image that we have formed of ourselves.
A blind spot may prevent us from assessing facts appropriately, which can lead to making ill-informed decisions or taking action that clashes with what others deem to be appropriate from their perspective.
If you find yourself having similar challenges with a range of different people, it may indicate a pattern that is worth your special attention. If the frequency of those incidents increases, or if a pattern extends to a growing number of people, consider that you may be experiencing a response loop of a blind spot behavior – yours!
What can you do when you suspect a blind spot in your life?
Become a diver!
- Describe: What do I see in an objective, factual way?
- Interpret: What do I think about what I have described?
- Verify: What do others think? Is my interpretation accurate?
- Evaluate: How do I assess what I think and others think?
- Resolve: Explore your options and take control over your action.
How self-aware are YOU? How often do you pause and re-assess whether it is them or you? Who would be a valuable person to have on your blind spot detection team?
Increase your self-awareness and your ability to reveal blind spots!
- Pause and see if you can think of challenges or surprising encounters that you are experiencing on a recurring basis.
- What is happening in those situations? What is your initial interpretation?
- What role do you usually play in those situations and how might you be contributing to an outcome that may not be ideal?
- Who can give you an objective perspective on the situation?
Go DIVE more often!
Happy ending to one of my blind spots: I am the proud wearer of a super cool hearing aid with magic powers, and I can now hear the world crystal clear!
I shared with my email subscribers that I had an experience last month that jolted me back to my core values. You can read about it here. But why wait for a jolting experience to remind yourself of your core values? We are about to enter the last quarter of 2019 – a great time to recalibrate and re-engage with why you do what you do.
In the fullness of life’s demands, your core values keep you grounded and help with focus or refocus. My core values are love and the potential for transformation into a brighter future. Those core values are what motivates and drives my own leadership journey and what fuels my work.
I am currently pursuing further education and am working with some colleagues on a brand new service that I can’t wait to share with you. Deciding to dive into this new venture was risky given all the other responsibilities on my plate. With my core values serving as a compass for my business decisions, I am confident that I am on the right path. My values are the foundation of my approach to professional and personal decisions. They help me face challenges and find creative solutions. They bridge what is important to me as an individual with what is important to me as a leader. They make me a powerful thought partner and compassionate facilitator and coach.
“Caring and compassion needs to be a value and not a program to have a positive impact in the workplace.”
REFLECTION & ACTION
What values lie at the core of YOUR life?
- How do you express them in your work/life?
- How much room do you give them to inform your decisions?
- How often do you pause and calibrate your actions with your values?
I invite you to reconnect with your values!
- Write down your core values on a post-it note and place it somewhere where you can see it frequently.
- Ask colleagues, clients and family members what their personal core values are, what makes those important to them and how they apply their values to the work they do.
- When you get ready for an important presentation, meeting or decision, pause for a minute, connect with your values and set your intentions for a positive outcome.
Being connected with your values and taking action in harmony with those values will lead to authenticity and self-confident, congruent decision making. I can’t wait to hear how this challenge re-engages you with what you do on an every day basis as well. Find me on LinkedIn here or schedule a discovery call today to talk about your findings!
The last couple of First Friday Challenges I presented to my subscriber base focused on Bravery and Resilience. This month, I took a closer look at a common creativity and innovation killer: Perfectionism. In her book bird by bird, a delightful read about writing and life, author Anne Lamott calls it out as a major cause for writer’s block and plain old drab:
“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better that you, and have a lot more fun while they are doing it.”
I see perfectionism getting in the way of many efforts and opportunities beyond creative writing. Perfectionism keeps you from experimenting. It will stop you from starting something when you are not certain that the outcome will be anything like the idea that you hold in your mind.
Perfectionism is a myth that asserts itself in several ways. These myths tell the story of “not ready yet” and “not good enough”. It focuses on flaws and lack. It is a bravery, resilience, creativity and joy killer.
So let go of it already!
Easier said than done you say? Well, let’s explore the myths that perfectionism perpetuates and begin rooting it out of our daily lives:
1. The Myth of Permanence
Perfectionism lures you into thinking that your efforts are watched and judged by everyone around you. In reality, the majority of our imperfections or imperfect actions will hardly be noticed, will be easily laid to rest, or they are things that can be edited, updated, or improved at a later date or with the next rendition. The important thing is to do something and get moving towards a goal.
Remembering that nothing is permanent and that taking a first step, even if wobbly, is better than waiting for perfect. Taking a shaky first try will set your creative juices flowing, allow you to tap into greater creativity, and ultimately enjoy better results!
2. The Myth of Success or Failure
Perfectionism blinds you to the spectrum between success and failure. Like other all-or-nothing ways of thinking, it highlights the extreme options with nothing in-between! Even worse, the tendency is to believe that the odds are slanted significantly in the failure direction. Of course you procrastinate – who wants to fast track towards failure?
The truth is that there is always room for improvement no matter how amazing your first effort is. Because we are constantly learning and growing, when we look at past efforts the desire to update can be strong! Some things aren’t even worth your time to fret about. Other things can be considered valuable learning experiences that can be mined for valuable insights. Take the time and energy to figure out which is which – let go what needs to be let go and learn from what can be improved.
3. The Myth of Getting Respect or Approval
If you’re struggling with perfectionism, it can also be a signal that you value the opinions of others more than what is healthy for you. It can seem logical that you need to present a polished and perfect appearance for others to accept your leadership. However, it has generally been my experience that people are attracted to authenticity and vulnerability not perfection. As a leader, a mask of perfectionism can have the effect of making you unapproachable to your team. Of course, you want to remain professional but putting up a fake front of perfection will not promote your reputation in your team nor does it create a safe space for them to take risks and be creative.
4. The Myth of Everyone Else Has It All Figured Out
This one is more common than you might guess, especially among leaders. It is closely related to Impostor Syndrome as well – the idea that everyone else got where they are by merit, but you’re just lucky and don’t really deserve to be there! It fills you with the internal pressure to make sure you do everything correctly so no one finds you out. The truth is that very few leaders feel 100% confident all of the time. Comparing yourself to another leader will always lead to self-doubt and will hamper your own and your organization’s growth.
Have you gotten pulled into believing any of these Perfectionist Myths?
How do you see them playing into those internal voices that say you are “not ready yet” or “not good enough?”
I invite you to challenge perfectionism in your life and in your leadership with a simple and concrete action:
Give yourself a finite amount of time to work on a big project. Once the time is up, send whatever you have to a colleague or business ally for feedback, no matter where you are in the process.
Would you like access to more leadership capacity building practices? Contact me here or even better, schedule a free Discovery Coaching Call with me! I love talking with people!
I sent my email subscribers a challenge at the beginning of the month, encouraging them to practice bouncing. I didn’t mean the kind of bouncing that children do on backyard trampolines though! The art of the bounce is all about practicing resilience when your “20 seconds of Insane Bravery” do not yield the results you were hoping for.
Sometimes risk taking may bring you standing ovations and sometimes you will hear cat calls and boos. Some of your ideas will have enthusiastic fans and some will bring out the harshest critics – and the most outside of the box ideas are likely to generate both. Setbacks, letdowns and brutal criticism are practically a given once you begin to take risks, so developing the skills to recover gracefully and learn from them is vital to your growth as a leader.
How do you learn how to bounce?
- Explore your fears
Practice getting used to wins and losses, seek praise and reproach, get used to getting call-backs and being ignored. One way of doing this is to reflect on a feared outcome and ask yourself the question, “and then what?”. For example, if you are afraid you may experience severe criticism for your action, think about what it would feel like if it actually happened, and if the criticism came from someone you really respected. Ask yourself what would happen next? How would you respond? Keep asking yourself the “so what?” or “and then?” questions until you get to a place of accepting whatever the outcome is or the anticipated outcome becomes so outlandish that you realize the fear is overprojected, e.g. they will hate the idea, I will lose the gig, I will not find other work, I can’t pay the bills, I will be living in a tent in the woods… This is a great journaling exercise that can help you to uncover the real and imagined fear that is holding you back from stepping out in risk.
- Accept the existence of non-fans
It’s important to work on letting go of wanting to be liked by all and being known as a “nice person”. Ultimately, people are responding to the tape that is playing in their own head and their response is not a reflection of your worth and often not even an indication of the value of your idea. Learn what you can from your experience, allow people to have the reactions they have, mourn an unrealized opportunity if you need to and then turn to your next opportunity to reach for what you believe in. Practice not responding immediately to negative comments (especially on social media platforms!) to give yourself time and space to assess whether that response really warrants any energy back from you. Try and notice if there could be different ways to interpret another person’s comments or responses. Is there anything that you can take away from it that will aid your leadership journey?
- Seek candid feedback
For an even riskier way to practice the bounce, take this practice outside just your personal journaling time and invite some real feedback: Ask someone who is NOT a raving fan of yours for candid feedback on a recent project, action, or behavior. Listen and ask open-ended, non-leading questions: What worked for that person and what didn’t? What was the perception on the receiving end? Are there suggestions for alternative approaches? Thank your conversation partner for the feedback. Allow the message to settle. Consider what is being said to you, whether you see validity in the comments and how it may help you handle a situation differently in the future. Take valuable comments and consider how to put them into action. Put the rest aside. Walk on. Really. Walk away from the comments that were not helpful to you. Shake them off. Take a deep breath. Connect with yourself and feel that you are still whole, with immense talents to share and valuable contributions to make.
- Cherish support and praise
On those rare occasions when you do get standing ovations after your moment of insane courage, enjoy the moment! Accept the praise graciously and thank those who contributed to the excellent outcome. Tease out what exactly lead to the success so you will be able to draw from the experience in a similar situation in the future.
REFLECTION & ACTION
- What is the criticism that you are most afraid of? What fear is triggered? What do you believe the criticism or failure would uncover?
- What are other ways you could interpret criticism? What may be going on in the other person’s world may have played into a harsh response?
- What part of the criticism is constructive (you agree with it and you can choose to do something about it) and what part is puzzling, unhelpful, perhaps ill-spirited?
Dianne Hofner Saphiere (Cultural Detectives) pointed me to a recently published article about how linguistic dexterity is connected with cognitive development and vice versa: No one could see the color blue until modern times by Kevin Loria. The premise of the article directly ties into my own observation that people tend to focus on the familiar and often stop short of taking a closer look and exploring other possible meanings or interpretations. Selective seeing and (subconscious) selective processing of information can thereby easily lead to incomplete or even incorrect conclusions.
What other things, connections, concepts may we be unaware of because we lack the words to describe them or because we have not learned how to decode them? When clients first enter a coaching relationship their bodies are often exhibiting symptoms that are rooted in interpersonal experiences. Tight muscles, clenched jaws, headaches, sweating. The person may even have a “gut feeling” that something is wrong but is lacking the words to describe it. An experienced coach will ask questions, invite explorations and may offer a range of vocabulary to become more and more specific in the descriptions of symptoms, experiences, and stories. With an expanded range of words to explore emotions comes progress and the ability to “see” dynamic relationships and dependencies.
Here are some questions to think about as we encounter unfamiliar people in new settings. How do we recognize invitations to enter into relationships? How do we discern what type of relationship is desired? How can you predict behavior across cultures if the behavior is grounded in concepts that you may be utterly unfamiliar with? How does that relate to global leadership? All these questions ultimately point to the importance of learning the proper tools and expressions to engage in effective intercultural communication.
Professionals in the field of intercultural competency development like share their thoughts and insights. One such expert focusing on Global Mindset development is Melissa Lamson of Lamson Consulting, who offers poignant advice: