A great warrior is known to have advised his troops to “retreat in order to advance”. Interesting thought that…and it makes good business sense!
Here’s another idea. “You can do anything. Once you stop trying to do everything”.
It’s been 3 months since my last newsletter and a lot has happened!
Time really flies when you’re busy trying to master the balance of living life to the fullest and earn a living! The “balancing act” has, at times, proven challenging as well as exhilarating and inspiring! It’s been a great time and I realize more and more how much I love my work, but, I must be honest in saying that I am also very grateful for our longer brighter warmer days and the promise of “time out”, holiday-ing and simply “retreating”!
I’m sure you are too.
And as we all start shifting into “holiday” mode here’s some of the good “skill” stuff which you can pack into your summer suitcase. It’s what I learnt while “re-designing” myself, writing and finishing my first book on intercultural competence and communication, and doing my first keynote talk to an audience of almost 100 people on the subject! Oh yeah!
First, some good old MA – “moments of awareness”. The term mastery originates from the Sanskrit root “mah”- meaning “greater” with a more modern variation of the medieval French word “maitre” meaning someone who is exceptionally skilled – a master of their craft – or you demonstrating the (upbeat, positive) principles underlying the way you produce results. There is a sense of effortlessness and joy supported by a healthy relationship with your current reality. A deeper awareness of what is going on right now at this moment.
Personal mastery also means mastering matters of the heart. Not easy if you come from a family environment or work in a culture that is more “task” oriented. Making emotional choices and looking closely at current reality takes courage. Are you courageous enough? Or are you afraid of what you want? And if you could “own” it now, would you take it?
Moments of awareness or MA is an exercise in real time reflection; stopping yourself in your “tracks”, sussing out your reality and developing skills to engage consciously, as events happen. You can practice MA anytime, anyplace and the real trick is doing it when you need it most – right in that terribly stressful moment, or right in the middle of a conflict. Get into the habit (refer to my last NL on creating new habits) of reminding yourself of MA. Here’s the exercise; ask yourself:
1) What is happening right now? and then go deeper by asking 3 more questions:
What am I doing right now?
What am I feeling right now?
What am I thinking right now?
2) What do I want right now?
In other words ask yourself what you are trying to achieve. Asking this question will provoke an emotional and physical change without you making a deliberate decision to change. AWESOME or what?
3) What am I doing right now to prevent myself from getting what I want?
Make a choice in this moment. All you need to do is to say: “I choose…
4) Breath deeply, and move on!
Now that you know what you want let your attention and energy move you towards it. Do not stay stuck. Change gears. Shift the focus of your attention.
Here’s a real time example borrowed from an situation we have all experienced to some degree, either at work or home.
What is happening? “I am in a conflict situation”.
What am I doing? “I am arguing and yes-butting and pushing back as hard as I can!”
What am I feeling? “I’m mad! I am very upset! I almost feel like crying / shouting!”
What am I thinking? “That this is not worth it, I am dealing with a bunch of idiots, I am leaving!”
How am I breathing? “Fast – my heart is racing!”
What do I want, for myself, right now? “I don’t want this!” “I don’t want to continue with this discussion.
What do I want? “I want this to end; I want him/her/them to listen. I want to be understood and heard and I don’t know how to explain myself better and this is why I am angry and frustrated”.
What am I doing to prevent myself from getting what I want? “I am pushing back too hard. Apologize. Reflect”.
Within seconds your attitude and behavior will change. Reflection helps you to become unstuck and de-escalate sudden bursts of fear, frustration and rage!
MA is very simple but it does need practice. Mindfulness – the skill of being present is an invaluable present to yourself – and others!
Second, the power of choice! Making a choice is more powerful than saying “I want…” When you choose whatever it is you want to achieve, it feels more powerful and your task of reaching it feels more creative. You take ownership of your choice – just like choosing a new job, or choosing to have a baby, or choosing to visit a special country when on holiday. Say “I choose…” (look at Dr Seuss’s good advice at top or learn from Hobbes)
Third, the power of silence. Aaaah…silence. We are surrounded by noise. And most of it the “noise” of communication!
When conversation and life seems scattered and loud, when nobody is listening anymore and side conversations are breaking out in corners, or when you’re at an impasse with your partner, bring in some silence – move into a quiet space – for at least 5 minutes. Break the momentum of busy-ness and count to twelve.
When you have filtered and flowed through your internal “noise” and you are centered in your silence, expand your awareness – reflect on where you want(ed) to go as opposed to where you are going – on reflection you will feel your intent pop up again in the sound of silence!
You know what I mean.
Collective silence has a vitality of its own – and it creates space for other points of view, points of you and creativity!
The happiest people are not people who don’t have anything to do, or who have no concerns. Those people are bored.
Research shows that happy people are busy people but don’t feel rushed. Studies about work-life balance report the same thing —rush less and reduce anxiety with a little more discipline. Draw a line. Decide what is important and what isn’t. Prioritize. Be mindful of yourself in your “now”. Choose consciousness. Be present in the present. It is, after all, a present!
Ask yourself this one simple question a few times a day: “What’s the most important thing for me to do right now?”
You can’t do it all and everything is not equally important but you can do anything once you stop trying to do everything – in three simple steps: 1) learn the power of MA, choice and silence. 2) practice it and 3) use it!
Wishing you balmy peaceful days to retreat in, filled with the sound of easy silence.