Thinking Outside the Box: A New Paradigm

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The ability to think outside the box is more than just a skill—it’s a transformative power that can lead to greater productivity and innovation in our personal and professional lives. I’ve been reading up on this topic and have found several truly interesting  resources to share. Below are three different perspectives on thinking out of the box.  Drawing from these articles, let’s explore ways to dismantle the ‘walls’ of traditional thinking and kindle an environment where creativity and groundbreaking ideas can thrive.

The Walls of Conventional Thought

Traditional thinking can box us in with invisible walls. I found it helpful that a Forbes article took the tact of naming those walls after characteristics which limit our potential: blame, complaints, defensiveness, and closed-mindedness. It’s helpful to see each of these in the context of 4 walls to a box that you want to break free from. 

Recognize The Barriers

The first step is to recognize these barriers. The article defines each to help you do so. Then the work is to consciously strive to release those qualities.  You can do this by writing down just 2 or 3 simple changes you can make to get to the productivity and upliftment that await you beyond them. For example, they suggest these four practical starters. Look for how you can:

  • Transform blame into a sense of ownership. Owning it is actually good news, because you have the most power here to do something positive about it. 
  • Pivot from dwelling on problems to devising solutions. Looking for how to solve problems you’re in, with even the smallest positive steps forward, will feel incredibly freeing – and release a lot of energy you may not realize was keeping you down. 
  • Replace defensiveness with openness to accountability. Again, the best thing for progress is if the ball is in your court. You can gain respect for being accountable, and admiration for being willing to make something better. Defensiveness shuts doors to opportunity and connection.
  • Exchange closed-mindedness for a curiosity that welcomes new and diverse perspectives. Innovation relies on being open minded. Curiosity is a great way to test a concept or brainstorm… and it’s THE way great ideas happen. 

Instead of thinking outside the box, get rid of the box.” Deepak Chopra

 

 

Imagination and Fractal Changes

Venturing outside the box also calls for a ‘radical imagination,’ a concept focused on in a Harvard Business Review article. It’s about challenging the status quo with ‘wonder questions’. Again, the benefits of getting curious. Try frequently asking “I wonder why…” 

They introduce fractal changes – the subtle yet impactful shifts in our approach and mindset that impact the big picture. It’s a new perspective that is both simple and radically out of the box!. The article suggests that by focusing on consciously making micro-changes in both our behavior and thought processes, we create a ripple effect that can reshape the larger systems in play.

Thinking outside the box isn’t just a cliché; it’s a vital edge strategy for today’s rapidly changing world. It involves breaking free from traditional patterns,  and embracing both radical imagination and impactful fractal changes. 

As covered in last month’s blog, the journey of innovative thinking starts with a single step beyond conventional boundaries. If you’re poised to embark on this transformative journey, let’s connect and explore the possibilities together.

Embracing Liminal Space: A Courageous Pathway to Growth

White walls and doorway between two rooms to illustrate the topic of liminal space

In our fast-paced world, we often seek clarity and direction, but what about those moments when we find ourselves in a state of transition – the in-between phases of life? This is what we call ‘liminal space’, a concept that, if embraced, can transform our lives and lead to significant personal growth.

Understanding Liminal Space

Liminal space refers to a time of transition, a season of waiting and not knowing. This term originates from the Latin word ‘limen’, meaning ‘threshold’. It’s like standing at the doorway between two distinct areas, not fully in one place nor the other. These are the times when old structures or routines break down, and new ones have not yet formed.

Liminality can be unsettling because it challenges our sense of identity and certainty. It could be the time after graduation but before starting a career, the period following a relationship breakup, moving from one city to another or the phase when considering a significant life change.

Recognize You Are in a Liminal Space

Identifying you’re in a liminal space is the first step towards using it effectively. Signs include feelings of uncertainty, questioning life choices, or a sense of waiting for something to happen. You might feel disconnected from your old self but not yet connected to what’s next. It’s important to acknowledge these feelings without judgment- and to even welcome them. 

Using Liminal Space Productively

  • Embrace the Uncertainty
    • Liminal spaces offer unique opportunities for reflection and growth. Embrace the uncertainty and use this time to reassess your values, dreams, and goals. It’s a rare chance to ask yourself, “What do I really want from life?”
  • Practice Mindfulness and Patience
    • This period can teach patience and the art of living in the moment. Mindfulness practices like meditation can help you stay grounded and calm during times of transition.
  • Journaling and Creative Expression
    • Expressing your thoughts through journaling, art, or music can be therapeutic. It helps process emotions and can lead to surprising insights about your future path.
  • Explore New Possibilities
    • The fluidity of liminal space allows for exploration. Try new hobbies, travel, volunteer, or take short courses. These activities can provide clarity and may even open new doors.
  • Seek Support and Share Experiences
    • Talking with friends, joining support groups, or working with a coach can provide comfort and guidance. Sharing your experiences with others who are also in transitional phases can be incredibly validating and enlightening. Your Support Circles can really come into play here. 
  • Avoid Rushing to Fill the Void
    • While it’s tempting to rush into the next phase, remember that growth often happens in the waiting. Avoid making hasty decisions just to escape discomfort. See it instead as a time to mine riches – even if they may not be visible to you yet. Make it a practice in BELIEVING! 

The Courage to Grow

Liminal spaces require courage. They ask us to surrender control and embrace the unknown. However, these periods can be deeply rich in lessons and personal development. By recognizing and valuing these in-between times, we can transform our approach to life’s transitions, seeing them not as obstacles but as pathways to growth and self-discovery.

Liminal spaces are both challenging and enriching. They offer a unique perspective on life and an opportunity to realign with our true selves. Remember that this journey, though uncertain, can lead to profound growth and fulfillment.

If you’re navigating a liminal space and seeking guidance or support, let’s talk.  

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7 Ways to Regain Your Work Mojo After Time Off

Back to the office after a break but still feeling tired and unfocused? Here’s 7 ways to regain your work mojo after time off!

We’ve all been there: You’ve had a break from work – whether a vacation, lone weekend or a sabbatical, Your intent was to come back refreshed, yet upon your return, you don’t feel the energy or you hoped for. Here you’ll find 7 ways to regain your work mojo after time off. 

Whatever your reasons for feeling anywhere from uninspired to exhausted, don’t discount the deep burnout we have from our society’s habits and trends. We know it well: social media scrolling, blue light exposure, the endless news, continued effects from Covid, and even the pressure to do all the healthy stuff we know so much about now (eating paleo/whole 30/keto/macro, getting enough sleep, mushroom coffee SO MUCH), trying to be mindful and present all through. So even if we take a vacation we can end up not feeling quite rested and walk into work with trepidation. 

According to a recent Harris Poll conducted by Zapier, many leaders resonate with this sentiment, with 87% dreading aspects of returning to work. Topping the list? Settling back into routines, catching up on administrative tasks and team goals, and facing the sea of unread messages. 

As leaders—from team managers to top-tier executives—we don’t just bear the weight of our own tasks but also the expectations and effectiveness of those we lead. So, how can we navigate this return transition with grace and efficiency? Here are some actionable strategies:

  1. Prioritize Personal Well-being

Start your day a little early, giving that morning time solely to you and your own restoration. It could be a session of meditation, journaling, a refreshing workout, or simply savoring a cup of your favorite tea. When you prioritize self-care, you set a positive tone for the day ahead.

  1. Draft a Weekly To-Do List

As you plan your week, ease into your tasks. Differentiate between the immediate necessities and those that can wait. Set only three critical tasks for Day 1, diving into at least one before you tackle emails.  Repeat with your 3 top priorities as the only goal again for Day 2.  Done this way, by Wednesday the mountain you felt you were facing on Monday doesn’t look so high anymore.  Celebrate your progress, no matter how small.

  1. Designate Catch-up Time

Block off periods free from meetings and commitments to catch up undisturbed, especially the first hour or so in the mornings. Turn off notifications and zero in on what needs doing. Such focused time often yields higher productivity.  This is especially good to practice that can make a significant difference in how your day goes. Set your alarm to warn you 15 minutes before the time you blocked out ends so you can wrap up feeling you made solid progress.  

  1. Sync with Your Team

Once you feel grounded, organize a team or staff meeting to ensure everyone is aligned. Their support and/or knowing they are indeed on track, can provide a layer of ease and confidence you need.

  1. Cluster Tasks

Group similar tasks, such as answering emails or attending meetings, to make the most effective use of your time energy. Consider a color-coding system or other organizing methods to help you know what needs to be dealt with and what can definitely wait. When you accomplish a cluster, take a break before going back again fresh.

  1. Reschedule Where Possible

Examine your upcoming schedule – at least in the first week or so. Ask what can be responsibly postponed or canceled without inconveniencing someone else? Then do that. You’d be amazed how even freeing up one slot can offer the breathing space you crave.

  1. Evening Restoration

Dedicate time in the evening for relaxation as you assimilate. If life’s commitments seem too pressing, finding small ways to rejuvenate, even if it’s just a few minutes of mindful breathing in the coziest clothes, or a short evening walk, can be really effective and put you in a much better place for the next day.

Use this experience to prepare for future breaks by building in some buffer time before you return to the office. Creating a free day or two before diving back into work makes a huge difference in how grounded and prepared you feel when Monday comes around. It can be used to get your clothes or food together, or get a head start on sorting emails, planning, and setting priorities. If you don’t have this luxury each time, you can use time while waiting on line, on the plane, waiting to return a rental car, etc… using your Voice Memo or Notes app in your phone to jot down a to-do list, or begin establishing the top 3 priorities, decide what you will do first thing in the morning for YOU, and when you come home the first few nights… These will make a significant infusion of your work mojo upon your return.

In the ever-evolving dynamics of leadership, transitions, and returns can be daunting. But remember, with a blend of self-care, structured planning, and a dash of flexibility, you can find your footing more swiftly.

If these strategies resonate with you and you’re seeking guidance in creating a tailored plan for your transitions—or just need support navigating leadership challenges—reach out to me. Let’s transform your challenges into wins together.

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From Misstep to Mastery: Making the Most of Mistakes

Making the most of mistakes is a foreign concept to many. In our culture, we’re taught shame around mistakes, so they represent something to hide, and to equate with failure and the fear of judgement. 

Failure is not just inevitable; it’s necessary. It’s an integral aspect of the leadership landscape. How you respond to setbacks determines your influence and credibility in the professional realm. Often, our missteps arise from well-intentioned endeavors or sheer persistence. That’s important to remember.  So rather than viewing them as errors, it’s time to reframe our perspective: they are learning moments, packed with the potential to guide us towards better judgment, sharpened skills and more effective action. 

In October, I embark on my 26th year of coaching and consulting, on the heels of a transformative decade working as a lawyer. The journey, though fulfilling, hasn’t been devoid of pitfalls. I’ve stumbled here and there, and made my fair share of mistakes. But with each mishap I discovered an opportunity — a chance to grow, to evolve, and to fortify my toolkit with fresh insights. Each mistake has legitimate potential to make you better. 

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again; this time more intelligently. —Henry Ford

Mistakes: Lessons in Disguise

See every mistake you make not as a misstep but as an avenue from which to glean wisdom. This is life’s way of course correction, and not a single soul is exempt from it. Keeping a ‘Beginner’s Mind’, a Zen concept that implies looking at every situation with openness and eagerness without preconceptions, is the key to staying rejuvenated and receptive. The true beauty lies in the way you show up, especially when things don’t go as planned.

Learning from Missteps

The real challenge isn’t from making a mistake, but in acknowledging it with grace and honesty. Shed the temptation (or default) to go to shame, and instead, strive to understand what went astray. Such self-awareness, devoid of self-judgment (the key), paves the way for corrective measures. Taking accountability not only prevents recurrences but resonates with strength and dedication, ultimately reinforcing your credibility.

Rebuilding and Restoration

Genuine regret, appropriate to the situation, and an active effort to ameliorate the aftermath of a mistake can rebuild any challenged  bridges or confidence. It’s a testament to your respect for your colleagues and your unwavering commitment to the shared objectives of your clients,  team or organization.

Navigating the Path to Wisdom

The process of introspection – of really sitting down to assess what led to a mistake – is invaluable. Whether you pen down your thoughts or share them with a trusted confidant, this step is the real treasure trove. It helps refine your judgment, attention, and skills. Often, the fear of confronting our mistakes holds us back, but in embracing them, we find relief, clarity, and growth! 

Managing Others’ Mistakes

As leaders, the errors of our teams or clients can weigh us down. But leadership isn’t just about leading; it’s about lifting others when they falter. While it’s natural to feel fatigued by the continual need to address and rectify others’ mistakes, it’s crucial to maintain a balanced perspective. Remember, as a leader, your words, actions, and choices have a big impact.The way you handle others’ mistakes becomes a benchmark, influencing the organizational culture and dynamics.

Your approach to errors, whether yours or others’, creates a ripple effect. Owning up to mistakes, learning from them, and guiding others through theirs solidifies your influence and garners respect from both peers and superiors. More than your achievements, it’s your resilience, adaptability, and honesty in the face of adversity that truly underscores your leadership prowess.

Mistakes are not the antithesis of success but its foundation!. They offer rich insights, propel growth, and mold impeccable leaders. If this resonates with you and you’d like a partner with which to navigate your leadership journey with grace, resilience, and adaptability, don’t hesitate to contact me. Together, we can transform your mistakes into milestones.

The August Advantage for Year-End Success

Big sky over the flat ocean

Unlock the August advantage for year-end success during the relative pause offered by this month. Transitioning from beach to business post Labor Day may feel like a jolt, especially as the year-end’s hustle and bustle starts with September’s arrival. But though your mind may still be basking in summer’s relaxed rhythm, believe it or not, that’s the perfect state for cultivating game-changing insights! Let’s turn this laid-back mindset into a platform for innovative thinking. 

You may say you’re so not ready for that right now.  For most,  our heads are fully into summer relaxation and play mode. But that is the exact mindset for the richest, most innovative thinking to be done! To help you, I’ve made a guide of questions you can answer with coffee one morning, or ponder while biking, walking or paddling, sunning, gardening, or washing the car or dishes. You can record notes on your phone as you go, or sit down to jot down notes after reflection. Just take a look, and you’ll see what I mean. 

REFLECTIVE THINKING

Think back to January 1, when you had the entire year ahead of you. Remember the goals you laid out?  It’s essential to recognize your progress and how you’ve developed, as well as seeing what popped up that added new goals or may have taken things in an entirely different direction. 

  1. What achievements can you celebrate thus far? What were the wins, big or small, you’ve had in the last 8 months?
  2. What unforeseen events shook your world? What surprises, hurdles, or new openings altered your personal and professional path?  Did any leave an indelible mark on you? 
  3. Reflect on the episodes, exchanges, or instances that have deeply resonated with you. These can be poignant dialogues, breakthroughs, or lessons.
  4. How are you spending your time? Take stock of your current pursuits and duties. Pinpoint the assignments, ventures, or actions that have engaged most of your resources and attention recently. It’s very grounding.
  5. Where do you yearn for more clarity or knowledge? Becoming aware of this is most valuable.

FUTURE THINKING

This is where you look ahead to how you want to wisely use what will be left of the year – because by August, we are well into the 3rd quarter and Q4 can fly.

  1. What will make this year look like success to you?  What is left to do? This will function as your north star, directing your actions and choices in the future.
  2. What elements will lead to a memorable Q4? Investigate the factors that can lead you on an enriching, meaningful path in the coming months (A hint is to synchronize your pursuits with your principles and ambitions). 
  3. Who may provide the most assistance to you? Pinpoint the people in your support circles who hold the expertise, insights, or means to bolster your objectives. Nurture those impactful relationships.
  4. Flesh out #5 above, where you identified where you wanted to be clearer or gain more knowledge. What can you do in answer to those?

SUPPORT THINKING

You can go deeper with these questions by discussing them with friends, your peers in other or similar professions, or colleagues. 

  1. Who would you be interested in joining forces with? Think about potential partners, be it workmates, acquaintances, or advisors. 
  2. What do you need your colleagues to know? Consider the information, insights, or support you require from your teammates or coworkers, and name your needs to enhance collaboration and productivity (Communicating your needs actually fosters a more effective work environment).
  3. Are there any talks you need to have with your principle or partners to make them aware of what you may have come up with as you thought this through?

After reaping August’s potential yourself, this is a great exercise to do in September with your team or staff to help them transition productively. They’ll get a fresh focus on goals and priorities both personally and aligned with yours or the company’s to bring in a strong and fulfilling year-end succcess across the board! 

However, this moment is your secret weapon to jumpstart your journey towards year-end success, taking advantage of August’s serene ambiance to reflect and prepare. If you’d like help expanding on these questions and insights, setting clear intentions, and laying out a solid path for the rest of the year, contact me and let’s have a conversation. 

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Recharge to Lead: The Undervalued Importance of Rest for Leaders

bare feet in sand at the waters edge

In a world that glorifies busyness, we often overlook the undervalued importance of rest – especially as leaders! Our society applauds the executives who burn the midnight oil, leaders who are always ‘on’, and the hard-chargers who sacrifice sleep for success. But did you know that the most effective leaders have a secret weapon? It’s rest – the antithesis of relentless hustle!

Last month I addressed the underlying burnout that is hitting everyone as we come down from the non-stop sprint through 3+ years of a global pandemic. And because we are so used to overworking in this culture anyway, it’s been hard to stop and be OK with the fact that it’s actually critical for leaders to incorporate rest.

Rest is not just the absence of work, it’s a fundamental human need, and a cornerstone for becoming a successful, balanced, and effective leader. It provides a powerful edge, allowing us to replenish our mental and emotional resources, regain focus, enhance creativity, and be more mindful in decision-making.

The Importance of Rest

When you skimp on rest, you deprive yourself of the energy and clarity needed to lead effectively. In contrast, ample rest heightens your cognitive functions, sharpens your decision-making skills, and boosts your emotional intelligence – all vital ingredients for effective leadership.

Consider this: Have you ever noticed that your best ideas often come when you’re not at work? Perhaps during a quiet morning coffee, a peaceful walk, or a rejuvenating weekend getaway. Are you nodding? It’s no coincidence. When you’re rested, your brain has a chance to wander and explore new possibilities. It has the bandwidth to think strategically and connect the dots that often get overlooked in the hustle of a regular workday.

How do you integrate rest into your leadership routine? Here are some practical strategies to consider:

Embrace Rest to Refuel

  1. Prioritize Quality Sleep: Sleep is a non-negotiable for restorative rest. Prioritize at least seven to eight hours of quality sleep per night. Remember, it’s not wasted time, but an investment in your leadership potential.
  2. Intentional Downtime: Allow yourself time to unplug from work, enjoying a hobby, exploring nature, meditating, or simply doing nothing. These replenish your energy and enable you to return to your role with renewed vigor.
  3. Regular Vacations: Make it a priority to take regular vacations (even if it’s a day trip or a short weekend) where you can completely disengage from work. By stepping away from your usual environment, you allow your mind to relax, refresh, and open up to new perspectives.
  4. Mindful Breaks: Incorporate mindful breaks into your workday. Even short pauses can help reduce stress, maintain focus, and boost your overall performance.

Rest for Powerful Leadership

Rest isn’t a luxury or an indulgence—it’s a necessity for effective leadership. It’s about acknowledging your human need for rejuvenation and taking in the benefits laid out above can make you a better leader. It’s about realizing that, to lead others well, you must first take care of yourself. The New York Times recently featured Tricia Hershey, founder of the Nap Ministry, for having spent years preaching the gospel of rest and divesting from corporate and academic pressures, suggesting you refuse to run yourself into the ground. 

By embracing rest as a crucial element of your leadership strategy, you’re not only promoting your personal well-being, but also fostering a culture that values balance. You’re leading by example, showing your team that it’s not just about working hard, but also about working smart. 

As you embark on your leadership journey, remember the importance of rest. Far from an obstacle to success, it’s a source of fuel.

Do you want to explore more about how rest can enhance your leadership potential? Are you ready to break free from the ‘always on’ culture and embrace a more balanced approach to leadership? I’d love to work with you on this journey. Contact me and let’s take this transformative step together. 

With the right balance of work and rest, you can become the effective, inspiring leader you aspire to be. 

 

8 Steps to Relieve Burnout Now

Burnout is not a dirty word! It’s a way our body, in its infinite wisdom, works to get our attention – a signal that we need to restore ourselves. But when burnt out, even taking on self-care seems like another thing to do…or worse, to feel guilty about if we don’t get to it… which only adds to the underlying sense of exhaustion and overwhelm. But it doesn’t have to be. I want to show you how to make some very realistic, small shifts to get you back to balance. Here are 8 steps to relieve burnout now!

Burnout is Trending

Before you start, we need to tackle that it’s OK to acknowledge you’re burnt out, and with good reason.There’s a lot of fallout coming to light post-Covid that’s not being talked about but is real. The world got turned upside down overnight. We scrambled to adapt – and we did, remarkably so. But leaders had to go beyond the call of duty during it all, and on the uneven reentry.  

You did your best under incredible global challenges with sustained unknowns over a prolonged period. You kept on point, using all you’ve got for the better part of the last 3 years! It’s no wonder that, now that we’re technically on the other side of it, you may be experiencing a huge level of exhaustion. And as that impacts your ability to lead, it can only add more weight on your tired shoulders. You need to help yourself to help anyone else – including your staff. So what can you do?

8 Steps to Relieve Burnout

  1. Exhaustion means you need rest – physically and mentally.  Find the courage to step away FULLY – even if only for an afternoon. And (this is key) resist being at your desk in your head! You may not do it perfectly at first, but try and keep trying. The work will be there when you get back, and you need to do this to be able to do that work. 
  2. Create some breathing room in your day (or week/month) anywhere you can. Start by giving yourself 20 minutes (even 10) to look at your schedule. Cancel what is non-essential, and reschedule what you can (If needed, make it clear you will rebook at their convenience -then be sure to do that). 
  3. Do a head dump of all you have to do – work, home/family, health. Just write it all, and get it out of your head onto paper or computer. This relieves the strain of it all ricocheting around in your head. Circle or highlight the 3 top priorities. Then allow that just for today, you only progress on those, resting easy that the rest is all safely on a page you can return to. Repeat each day this week and see how much shifts for the better!
  4. Make good use of the adage ‘better done than perfect” where applicable. You’ll find it works for more tasks than you realized and is quite freeing. 
  5. Delegate anything, no matter how small. Hire someone to handle a piece. Ask a friend to help with another. Call upon anyone in your Support Circles, which I wrote about in April’s blog. If you didn’t catch it then, I know you’ll find it extremely helpful. 
  6. Take license to give up the gym, or not do a self care item, grab take out, let laundry or the lawn wait a day or two to unburden yourself. 
  7. Taking a walk, moving your body in some way, preferably in fresh air,  to shake out mental knots. Notice how the static in your body and spirit truly shifts with movement.  
  8. Do not underestimate the transformative power of noting what IS working through the day, what bits of beauty there are to take in, and the many small and big things to be grateful for.  Part of what causes burnout is how we speed from one thing to the next without taking time to pause, breathe and reconnect ourselves to the moment. This leads to making CHOICES about what we do next rather than juggling it all, all at once –which we know is impossible to maintain.

You’ve Got This! 

The benefit from having some experience under our belt is this: we’ve been wiped out before and know this too will pass and get better. The good news is even the smallest shifts can significantly help you relieve burnout. With each step, a bit of energy and clarity will return, making it easier to make any bigger shifts needed. It can get you back to feeling like yourself again, from which you can perform at work and enjoy life so much more. That’s the ultimate priority!  This is also a great time to call upon anyone in your 

Have hope when you feel burnt out, because you have choices about how to move yourself toward it till you’re there again.  If your staff is also suffering, even if it shows in subtle ways, as you know, my mantra is to fill your own well, so you can not only have what you need to then help your staff. And  it’s powerful if they see you modeling it yourself. 

If you want support for your planning process, I am here to help. It’s easy to reach out to me for a chat and see what can happen!

Need Help? Identify Your Four Support Circles

Gold_heart_padlock_on_chain_link _fence

What do you do when you find you need help? I teach a simple way to identify your four support circles to assess who is in your corner (you may have forgotten some who you can call on!) and where you may need to build people and resources in going forward. 

When English Poet John Donne said, ‘No man is an island,’ he sure got it right! We need people, community, belonging, collaboration and sharing in many areas of our lives. We might have a solid family life, or a group of long term pals to count on, but are in need of more support at work. Maybe you have the best crew of medical docs, a great housekeeper and accountant, but could use more reconnection with friends or family. 

At work we know leadership can feel lonely.  Especially so if you don’t have someone at home who really understands all you manage on the job. You likely get pieces of what you need from a business partner, board, committees, or a networking group with whom you can share challenges and exchange ideas and solutions. But each professional relationship still requires varying levels of discretion. For more freedom, you might have a colleague who is at a level where they can relate, but are in a different field. Further, an executive life coach or therapist can provide safety that you can’t find with professional peers.

This applies to your personal life as well, but for this blog, we’ll address your personal life from the context of  how it supports you in your business life. So let’s also look at your home life, friends, and groups of outside interests. They help you have greater quality of life, spirit, health and mind – all of which fills your well – and affects your professional performance. 

THE FOUR SUPPORT CIRCLES

1. ANCHORS

The bullseye. This is the circle of intimacy which includes those closest to us, the people and/or connections whose absence would be felt deeply.  Some people would include their pets in this circle, especially if they are a primary source of companionship. 

2. ALLIES

Those good friends and close relatives who are strong connections but don’t quite make it into the first circle. These are the people we can confide in and turn to for support during times of need. 

3. ASSOCIATIONS

Those acquaintances and connections developed through participation in organizations, affiliations and activities like a spiritual group, work colleagues mentors and/or club members.  Individuals from this group may later move up to circles one and two. 

4. ASSISTANTS 

These are those paid supporters in our lives – a trusted doctor, lawyer, accountant, teacher, even your hairdresser or car mechanic would be included. 

LIST YOUR SUPPORTERS

Let’s do an exercise to better illustrate this. Draw 4 concentric circles on a piece of paper like a bullseye. Start by writing who your Anchors are in the center. Extending outward, title each of the concentric circles of support as listed above. Next, fill in the names of people who fit in each. 

You now have an easy overview. It easily helps you see where things are in good shape, and where any holes are. Now ask yourself:

  • Who is really in my corner and in what ways?
  • Are any of these levels lacking?
  • How can I deepen or strengthen the areas where I need the most support?
  • Conversely, where may I notice I have people that drain me, or take more from me than I receive?

Now, with that substantially increased awareness in mind, you can begin looking for who might fit where needed,  or for ways to cultivate the connection you have with those who are there. Be aware of the one way streets, and perhaps invest in those less. 

SUPPORT TIPS

Not everyone can be everything to us. One key is to manage our expectations. There are people who you only do specific things with – the folks with whom you may go wine tasting or kayaking, or serve with on a school committee might be perfect to share those activities, but can not be ones you reveal your struggles to.  And that’s perfectly OK. Some people come and go through time, as our interests change, if we move, as we change companies, as a byproduct of living a full life! There are those people who continue in our lives through all of it!  Seeing your big picture at any given time allows you to discern who fits within your four support circles today, or if they do not – and where if they do. This will make subtle but significant shifts in the quality of your life.

Set yourself up for success by choosing people with the right skills or traits to help fill needs in the 4 circles. Take heart that to have a handful of solid people as Anchors and Allies is enough. So aspire for quality over quantity, knowing the right fit can take a little time to find. This is a living exercise, one that will grow and change as you do!  Enjoy your Associations, and thank your stars for those Assistants who really help us thrive. 

TIP: If one or more of your four support circles are really in need, it’s an opportunity to get curious of how you may contribute to those voids, like rarely going out, or regularly saying you are too busy for a call or that coffee with a friend. You may be pleasantly surprised to see what happens if you did either or both! 

This is a rich exercise, a life-long tool to learn and use. The results are both subtle and substantial. My first Ebook will be a workbook on this topic and will be available on my website very soon. Sign up for my monthly newsletter now to hear about it first, and join me on Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook for more tips and encouragement!

The New Year: A Time to Review and Renew

The turn of the new year is a time to review and renew. The lull a few days before or after New Years Eve, creates perfect conditions! I’m encouraging you to take advantage of this opportunity to assess various areas of your work and personal life, and set goals or intentions. There is literally no down side. Let’s go through a few ways to reap those riches.

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