Stop. Look. Listen.

I don’t get over to John Agno’s Coaching Tip blog often enough, though I did make it over the other day and found this timely post: In Stressful Encounters, Rewire Yourself to Listen.  He points out that:

In a stressful encounter, you may have less than two minutes to gain control and salvage the situation. 

The paradox is that we need to be deliberate, calm, and open at a time when our instincts are screaming “react!”.  John’s tips — and those of Mark Goulston — are very practical. 

My only addition: cultivate the habit of mindfulness so you can access such knowledge and don’t default to merely emotional responses.

PM Quote of the Day — Abigail Adams

A little of what you call frippery is very necessary towards looking like the rest of the world

Besides the fact that that I love the word “frippery“, I’ve found that the United States’ Second First Lady had a point.  In my case, I sometimes tend to discount some of the small courtesies required of a leader.  You know, like sending a birthday note or putting on a end-of-project celebration party.

The reason I do so has nothing to do with malice.  I just don’t think such things are all that important or necessary; in other words, I consider them frippery.  My attitude is an example of why Karl Popper’s amendment to the Golden Rule — quoted in an earlier post here — is so important to remember.  Hard as it is to believe, just because I don’t think something is unimportant or trivial doesn’t mean that it is so for all :-)

I am more mindful of showing small kindnesses today.  However, as back-up, I take care to have someone on my team who is more aware of such niceties and reminds me of them as needed.

PM Quote of the Day — Benjamin Spock

Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do

I don’t think of myself as a Dr. Spock disciple when it comes to childcare — e.g., we kiss and hug with abandon but we’re regular about bed and meal times — but I’ve always loved this quote.  In fact, my wife has it displayed where she can read it every morning.  

When I’ve made missteps in my life, there have been too many times when I’ve vaguely sensed that I was being none too smart about the mistakes I was about to make.  In fact, it was often a definite sense, even when in “mid-error”.   But this mindfulness was shallow, because all too often I was acting from the fear of disappointing someone, or missing out on something, or losing… whatever.   In other words, almost insanely trivial excuses or self-justification easily overwhelmed my reason and willpower.

This personality quirk or defect makes it essential for me to pause before I make a decision or face a situation.   For me to trust myself, I must be fearlessly mindful of my thoughts, motives, and efforts.  Only then can I hope to perform right deeds.

PM Quote of the Day — Helen Keller

People do not like to think. If one thinks, one must reach conclusions. Conclusions are not always pleasant

When I read this quote, it reminds me of how I have approached situations that must be met and decisions that must be made. My own thinking — at least my own un-aided thinking — leads me to self-justifying conclusions or self-seeking behavior. Too many of my snap judgments and reactions proceed from one premise: I am right. This problem is bad enough when I react quickly to a challenge; it is devastating when I am agitated or doubtful.

I discuss self-examination and meditation so often because these practices help me be clear-eyed about myself. Someone once said that “self-searching is the means by which we bring new vision, action, and grace to bear on the dark and negative side of our natures.” Meditation allows me to use that “vision, action, and grace” to look at myself, my words, and my deeds as others see me.

If I pause before deploying tongue and pen — even for a second — I’m freed from the tyranny of self long enough to do the next right or good thing.

But isn’t this called mindfulness?

I occasionally pop over to Growing Business Link (here) and find some useful stuff.  And so it was with this article that purports to demonstrate a link between “Conscious Leadership” and company performance (post here).  Here’s a summary of what “Conscious Leadership” brings.

“While other approaches involve managing your emotions and being aware of your impact on people, says Steven M. Swavely, Ph.D., senior consultant and psychologist with Farr Associates, Conscious Leadership takes it a step further in assessing leadership effectiveness beyond just emotions that may be driving automatic or reflex behaviors but also examines an individuals’ belief systems and how those beliefs drive behaviors”….

Conscious Leadership requires an individual to acknowledge their beliefs and biases and how they influence his or her situational awareness, to understand other people’s points of view, and to discern, for example, when to be assertive and when to allow others to take the lead.

All good stuff, though I’m not sure why we have to come up with a New Phrase to describe what sounds a lot like mindfulness.

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