“All Michele does is whine how she can’t get the job done. She doesn’t have time, or she doesn’t have the budget to get the right staff. She isn’t catching the details, so I have to work late to review everything she does. Why can’t she just have a good work ethic like me?.
This isn’t the first coaching session I had heard Tom lament about other people in this same way: his business partner, his wife, his car maintanence person, and his kids. Tom was asking me what was wrong with the people he had authority or influence over in his world. The real question is, what is happening in Tom that has him so helpless with those around him? What causes him not resolve these business and relationship issues?
Tom is a successful businessman. Yet, there is a pattern in him that is either allowing others to take advantage of him (low self regard and/or high empathy) or, possibily, his expectations are not realistic (decision making, reality, and/or low empathy) for those people and situations around him. I don’t know exactly what is happening inside Tom, but what I do know is that he is misaligned. Simply said, he is not getting what is important to him with the people he has choosen in his life. He is misaligned within himself and it is playing out with others. Working from your core strength reduces the frequency or at least the length of time we continue down misaligned paths. Exploring the what, always starts inside the leader.
If you are a leader, someone is following you.
Whatever your personality or intellectual competencies, leaders and followers make choices every day and both will make them from varying levels of awareness. While you believe that you have power over yourself, most of your doings in life occur automatically – outside of your mental awareness or mindfulness. According to current neuroscience findings, we function from a brain map that has been developed since conception and functions outside of our mindful thoughts and often speaks out through our nervous system (body). In order to build core strength, we must explore the information locked deep inside; both in the mind and body.
You read books and articles and listen to webinars and podcasts to fill our minds with excellent strategies for leading better. This works your intellectual mind muscles, but not necessarily your emotional brain muscles. Core Strength is the ability to stay in the present moment, aware of the information from the mind, body, and in relationship to who and what is in front of you. You may think of this as experiencing body/mind balance. In mental health we call it staying in your window of tolerance.(Dan Siegel) Consistently living with this kind of personal strength and autority leads to well-being.
So, what is helpful, when we function off-balance?
It is the primary goal of my practice to work with my clients towards increasing self awareness and personal authority through brain reconsolidation. It is not a new way to think about something; it’s a new way to be. Brain reconsolidation occurs the moment a past experience is called to mind accompanied by the old body response that fits with it, while simulantiously being aware in the present relationship this response doesn’t actually fit. The reaction is incongruent to who I am now, but the brain fires so quickly that by the time the incongruence is realized, the reconsoliding moment has pasted. We have put a new idea in our thinking mind, but have not changed the brain firing pattern. When reconsolidation occurs, Bruce Ecker (Researcher) explains that it actually nullifies the old neurological firing pattern and a new experiential shift in the brain emerges. The primal firing pattern is changed, and it no longer fires the same way, thus making room for a new level of awareness and growth.
Authority over Yourself
What I am suggesting is that your leadership is limited or expanded by how much authority you actually have over yourself. When you are present in a situation, aware of your body reactions, your thoughts about the real relationship in front of you and how you will impact it NOW, you will be able to access your highest level of thinking. This is called Emotional intelligence.
After working with Tom, he began to be a different leader inside. He was more aware of how his father had given him a gift of valuing hard work, but also developed a brain map of intolerance towards imperfection. His work was never enough growing up, so how could anyone elses be enough? The brain mapped that message in his thinking and in his nervous system, which produced high levels of anxiety.
His body did not automatically react with high anxiety when someone didn’t do something perfectly. This gave him more time to respond with his better thinking, not just the impulsive reactions of the past. Being more aware of himself, he was able to have personal authority over his reactions to others. That space made for greater listening and expanded collaboration. At one session he reported, “Michele works hard now. She doesn’t whine all the time. She even caught a budget error the CFO made on our financials, which saved my looking stupid infront of my board”. Tom’s rigid views and expectations softened enough that it influenced Michele’s work. When we exercise better personal authority, others respond differently to us.
If you aren’t aware of the incongruent messages you give, ask a co-worker or you significant other. If you are functioning “off balance”, you are not taking authority of you. To have your authority means you are able to be aware of the impact of your engagement right NOW in a given situation; in the present moment. Sustainable success is built by exercising your healthiest personal authority one moment at a time.