Slow Down So You Can Speed Up

Can you sometimes be too focused? Can you be so fixated on something that you exclude other options and opportunities?

As a Coach, helping people set goals is just part of my day. Clarity about what people want and need in their work and lives is essential for knowing where to head and building a successful plan to get there. As Stephen Covey shared in Habit 2 of his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “Begin with the end in mind.” Great wisdom.

But I have seen this get taken too far. Some people’s stamina and grit to achieve what they have in their sights makes them miss even greater opportunities and options around them. With their eye on the prize, their intense focus makes them blind to all of the information circling around them. In a constantly changing world, it is critical to learn how to slow down, review what is present, adjust as necessary then get back on the road with greater and more effective speed and progress.

My guidance to all of us in this moment when we are regularly encouraged to be resilient, build our stamina and grind our way through tough times is to stop and notice, then consider, choose and act.

Stop means take a breath. Interrupt you habit approach to more intentionally Notice yourself and your world. What has changed in you? Does the goal you’re working toward still have the same meaning? What has changed around you? What new information is worth considering?

Interrupting what we always do allows us to take our blinders off and expose ourselves to a larger view of this moment. From that space, other options and opportunities present themselves. They are there for us to Consider.

Consider means to think about the new information shared with you and what you could do with it. How does it change your goal? How does it offer a new and more efficient approach to the goal? How does it provide something you had not previously thought about? In the moment of taking a breath, the view of the world could change, saving you from a difficult time or offering you something more dynamic. Slow down and let your world talk you.

Now with a greater number of things considered, Choose what you want to do and Act on it. This could look like where you were already headed with a little more clarity or focus, or it could be something entirely new. Regardless, you’ve gained greater clarity as you continue moving down your achievement path.

Take Action
Many of us have learned to just push through hard times. Though stamina and grit are great skills, they can distract you from a mindful and thoughtful approach to a changing world. As the ancient Greek philosophers told us, “nothing too much.” In other words, manage what and how you do things to be your most effective.

Interrupt your normal approach by implementing a daily or weekly Stop to create the time and space to Notice you and your world. Assess what is new or different. What information does it have for you? From an expanded view, Consider what new options or opportunities are available. Choose what makes sense then ramp back up and go Act to make progress.

Regularly slow down to review so that when you speed up, you are making each forward step count.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Managing Your Self-Talk

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The Rush of it All

The alarm goes off at 5 a.m.
It’s time to get up to exercise.
It may just seem trivial to some
That I try manage these wide family thighs.

Then off to the shower to get ready for the day
Before the kids start to yell for me,
I’ll be lucky if I’m dressed with my hair all brushed
Before the first one barges in to go pee.

Ok, where are your clothes? It’s time to get dressed!
It’s like a new game every day.
They travel to each other’s rooms
Leaving toys in their wake as they play.

Into the kitchen for some breakfast
Quick! Before the hangry sets in.
Bickering over what to eat and who eats first
As I sidestep toys ejected from the toy bin

Then it’s off to the races! We’re late again.
How did it take so long to put on your shoes?
The car, at least, is warm this very cold morning
Oh great, the baby just went poo.

Back into the house for a quick diaper change
The other two yell “it’s time to go, hurry up!”
Oh dear, they’re sounding more like me every day
And in the exit rush I forget my fragrant coffee cup.

The ride to school is uneventful
Not usually the norm.
Then we get there and, oh geez, what did you forget?
I swear, one day, they will take this world by storm.

Then a shift of the mindset
As I set off on my way to work,
But incessant reminders of what to do at home
In my mind it all lurks.

And just like that, it’s time to go home
The day goes by in a flash.
The to do list for work is somehow longer now
Things in work and in life do nothing but clash.

A review of the day with each of the kids
And a snack, or two or three
Then I make a healthy dinner
That, realistically, the only one who will eat is me.

A quick clean up as I clear the table
And the kids all set off to play.
I cringe as I hear the sound of things crashing
Knowing I’ll find toys left where they lay.

We clean the playroom together
Then it’s time for tubbies, our prayers and books.
They ask for one more story
And exchange mischievous looks.

I see through their ploy, I know this game!
I was a kid once, too.
I kiss each of them on their heads
And tell them “I love you.”

I close the door behind me,
Running through what still needs to get done.
Then I power through the must-dos
So I can try to get in a late run.

Ok, the run won’t happen,
I have to get back to work.
I open the laptop and find 25 new emails!?
“Pretend you don’t see them,” I think with a smirk.

But the responsible side of me wins out
Just like it always seems to do.
Then work is all done and I’m finally in bed,
When a little voice yells, “Mommy, I need you!”

I shuffle to his room to see what I can do
To help him get back to sleep.
And though I’m exhausted and can barely think,
Him snuggled up against me is a treasure I will always keep.

As I lay there,  a list of things to do swirl in my mind
And some, I know, just can’t wait.
So at 2:30 a.m., I head downstairs
To throw in some cookies to bake.

Might as well get some laundry done, too
I think to myself as I wait.
Oh my God, did I just make cookies?
I think I promised them cupcakes!

Tasks are done, I’ve read for a bit.
Now I head back upstairs to bed.
My alarm starts to ding, it’s 5 a.m. already?
I sigh, “Let’s go,” I say to myself in my head.

Though busy and sometimes crazy
At this moment, this is just the way.
There is always so much to do
But I wouldn’t change a single moment from any of our days.

So the lesson for you is that in the rush of all,
Don’t forget to stop and notice the little things that make up your day.
The kids who lovingly call you Mom,
And the way they still ask you to come play.

The chores will always be there,
The laundry, the dishes and the toys to be picked up.
But you can get caught up in the rush of it all
If you don’t remember to look up.

 

Create Your Stopper

When I left for college, my Dad handed me a book and said, “read this.” The book, “Boys Will Put You On A Pedestal (so they can look up your skirt)” was written as a “Dad’s Advice for Daughters” by Philip Van Munching. So, as an 18-year old with the freedom of not living at home, I put the book aside, and it sat on my shelf for years. I never seemed to have the time to read it, yet it somehow always made the cut every time I moved.

I’m so glad it did. I recently sat down to read it and the stories, lessons and thinking shared were entertaining and enlightening (especially as the oldest of three girls and the mother to three boys).

The life lessons Philip shares are marvelous and concise. One lesson, in particular, is similar to the guidance we share with our clients: create your stopper.

Philip explains it like this:

“A stopper…is just a line that more forcefully separates where you are now (Slumpsville, USA) with where you want to be next time you’re up (which is Fat City, baby). A stopper is a way of keeping all the bad luck in the past away from the good luck you’d like to have in the future.”

He further explains that the stopper is not really luck but instead a “psychological trick you play on yourself to refocus your thinking.”

Man, did he nail it.

This is a similar approach to the one we share with our clients: the mindset shift. This approach is focused on learning to retrain your brain to look past the blocks and obstacles to see the positive and the opportunities.

Though retraining your brain takes some time, there are little things you can do right now to make the shift. For example, you can ask questions, challenging yourself to determine how true something really is (“Is this true? Or do I believe it to be true?”)

You can play the “imagine game.” Ask yourself to imagine what a situation could look like if something in your approach was different. You expand your thinking and push it past your habit approach (meaning: the behaviors you typically do out of habit).

You can adopt the Stop and Notice approach, the first two words of our 5-word Mindfulness Formula, to interrupt what you normally do to be more present to see and experience things around you that you never noticed. When you do this, you can better see what’s working / what’s not working so you can move forward more informed and with intention.

So here’s the real takeaway here: whenever you find yourself faced with a challenge or situation that is frustrating, take a deep breath and draw your stopper. Whether figuratively or literally, make the decision that the past is in the past and you’re only looking forward.

Then, with the junk behind you, focus on what you want and go make it happen.

Take Action
Stop and Notice is one of the most effective ways to start to adjust your mindset because it allows you to literally see what is working and what is not working in any situation. Start with something small, like how you create your grocery shopping list. What works with your approach to creating that list? What’s not working? Then move on to larger things like how you parent (what works and what doesn’t work), how your relationship is with [spouse, friend, roommate, significant other, parents, etc.] (what works, what doesn’t work) or any other thing going on in your life.

You will become aware, which leads to the ability to use what you are now know to decide the best way to move forward.

Fat City, baby.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Stop and Notice Works Everywhere

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Why is Everyone so Anxious?

We recently got our dog a prescription for Xanax. She’s an anxious breed, and with each consecutive baby we’ve brought home, her protective instincts have seemingly become more intense. Good in theory, but she really missed the mark on execution. It’s resulted in more than one take-down as she barrels through the kids to bark at whatever vehicle, animal or leaf had the audacity to go by the house.

I wish I was exaggerating.

We’ve tried everything to try to manage this. Various training classes (which, by the way, she masters but seemingly forgets within just a few weeks, despite our efforts to stay vigilant), in-home trainers, e-collars…the list goes on and on.

So, Xanax it is.

I admit I felt ridiculous running to CVS to pick up the dog’s prescription this morning, but as I waited for the pharmacist, I started thinking about how many anxiety medications must be filled for people every day. And I started to ask myself why. Why would we, as humans, who have an extensive ability to communicate with others, to think and choose with intention how to act or respond to a situation, need medication to help us get through the day? Unlike animals that aren’t able to think or communicate past a certain level, we have the ability to critically think. To decide how to respond to an event (vs. react). Yet we don’t do this. I believe it’s because we have become significantly unaware – unaware of ourselves and our world. We move through our days on autopilot, not really thinking or experiencing any moment. So, when we hit an unexpected snag, it can throw us off kilter and, in many situations, send us into a downward spiral. And based on what we see and hear from every media outlet, the solution is some form of medication.

Think about some of the random life events that could push you out of autopilot. A flat tire. A sick kid. The oil tank is empty or the furnace breaks overnight. The refrigerator dies. We fixate on these events and miss the other great events that go on at the same moment. The loving hug from your son. The wonderful neighbor who helped rake your leaves. The teacher who spends extra time on a subject that your kid has trouble with.

When things go our way, we ignore them. When things don’t go our way, we dwell on them. Knowing this, there’s little mystery that we think the day was tough or difficult. It leads many of us to feel like we need something from the outside to help us cope when in reality what we really need is something from the inside to help us see clearly, to help us remember that life has both ups and downs, and that the ups help with the downs.

Take Action
When you are confronted with an event that isn’t normally part of your day, stop and notice what’s going on. Take the time to gather all the information before you react. Take in what’s happening to you, around you, in you. What emotions do you feel? Why? What is actually happening right now? Is it true, or do you believe it to be true (this is a big one for those times when you can interpret an event, sometimes incorrectly, that could lead to an unproductive response)? And for every negative event you notice, work with intention to counterbalance it with a positive event. They are out there. See them. Experience them. Remember them.

By taking just a few minutes to tune in to yourself, to stop and notice what’s happening in you and around you, you gain greater self- and world-awareness. With this awareness, you can learn to manage your response to various events, to use the dimmer switch to turn up or turn down your strengths and liabilities. In the process, you’ll learn to operate in a less anxious state.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading The Value of Setbacks

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Hiring a Parenting Coach Doesn’t Mean You’re Failing

You might have read it or heard about it. A New York Times article that ran in early July called attention to the increasing demand for parenting coaches, specifically by parents who want to be better connected to their kids, and to do so with significantly less screen time. The tone of the article, as well as other articles that shared this news, isn’t, what I consider, to be positive, or even neutral. There’s an underlying tone of disapproval.

It got me thinking about our world and how parenting today is very different from the way our parents raised us, and how their parents raised them. The lessons we learned from our parents – whether those lessons were “what to do” or “what not to do” – are simply guidelines. Our world changes so rapidly and frequently without warning that parenting has joined the ranks of professions that are far from exempt from evolution. You need to change in accordance with what’s happening around you – and what’s happening with your kids – to ensure you can be the best parent you can be for them.

So let’s stop judging. Let’s stop pointing fingers, reprimanding or even rolling your eyes at parents who are asking for help. We should be applauding them and helping them. After all, isn’t the first step in making any sort of improvement in your life recognizing there’s something that needs to change and then asking for help to go do it?

So, kudos to the parents who realize change is needed.

Kudos to the parents who want to have real and better relationships with their kids.

And kudos to the parents who realize that sometimes an outside, neutral third party is exactly what is needed. In fact, one of the mothers who was interviewed for the New York Times article said, “…it’s just hearing something that’s so blatantly obvious, but I couldn’t see it.”

And that’s what coaches do: we guide our clients to develop greater self- and world-awareness. To see things and remember things that are otherwise not seen, ignored or forgotten. To remind people how to be tuned in, present and engaged in their moments.

It’s a skill that people have forgotten because our world today requires us to operate in a task-oriented mindset, one that’s dictated by efficiency requirements in both time and energy. Very few people know how to be fully present in each moment, gathering information from each of their senses so they can make a wise and intentional decision on how the next moment will be, because they need to just get it done. They need to move on to the next thing. This is where coaching can significantly help parents, reminding them how to be present to themselves and their families. With this expanded awareness, they have access to important information that can improve their decisions, interactions and approaches with their kids, and help them be more responsive instead of reactive.

Take Action
Take 10 minutes to stop and notice yourself and your world. What is working in how your life is? What isn’t working? What would you like to change? Consider what that change could look like and what you want the outcome to be. You’ll be surprised just how eye-opening spending just a few moments to tune out the world and tune in to yourself can be.

If you find you’re struggling with this, consider engaging a mindfulness coach who can help you develop tools and a practice to tune in to you, your kids and the world you are all part of. From that point, you will have better information that helps you make better decisions everywhere.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading What Type of Parent are You?

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When Too Much is Just Too Much

Overwhelmed. Stressed. Reaching your limit. Frustrated. About to explode. Need a break.

Sound familiar?

I’ll be honest: last week was not a great week for me. Every day, I found myself adding more items to my task list than I was crossing off, and each item seemed more challenging than the rest. It could have been because of the sheer magnitude of my growing list. It could have been because of how little was actually in my control. It could be that I only have so many waking hours to tackle these tasks.

By the end of the week, I felt extremely deflated. I felt like I brought by B-game to all of my tasks, whether it was at work, at home, to my kids, to my husband.

I was overwhelmed. I was tired. I was frustrated.

I felt like this was a good learning experience to share with you. Remember this: feeling these things is not right or wrong, good or bad. You’re allowed to feel and experience every emotion. One of my favorite things Jay says is that “it’s ok to visit these feelings, but don’t move in.”

You’re human and sometimes, life can present you with a slew of challenges that you’re not mentally ready to solve or handle. You can feel overwhelmed. You can feel angry. You can feel sad.

But like Jay says, visit but don’t move in. Let yourself feel and experience the emotion. Venting is not solving, but let yourself vent for a moment and set a timer for yourself if you think you need the extra reminder to stop after, say, 5 minutes. Vent, scream, cry, swear – do whatever you need to do in those 5 minutes. But when the timer goes off, no more venting. It’s time to solve. Refocus. Shift your energy and take control of what you can control.

In fact, all of the experiences of last week served as a good reminder for me to check-in with myself about not only my strengths and talents, but also my triggers and limits.

At 30-weeks pregnant in the thick of the summer with two toddlers who like to test their limits, my fuse is a little shorter (though I would like it to be different, for now it just isn’t). What I can realistically accomplish during the waking hours of the day isn’t the same as what it was even four weeks ago. The workouts and sleep patterns I was previously able to hold myself accountable to are no longer feasible. There. I said it out loud.

This was my stop and notice moment. This is when I realized that the reason I felt overwhelmed, tired and frustrated for most of the previous week was because I hit my task threshold long before I realized I did.

Your task threshold is what you can realistically achieve based on who you are in this exact moment and in this exact situation. It changes because you change and your situations change. One week, you may find yourself able to tackle significant items without batting an eye. Another week, you may find yourself saying “no” more than “yes” to keep your task threshold to the smallest number of items as possible.

When you are aware enough to notice when you need to adjust your task threshold to ensure your mental well-being, you’ll find you don’t spend as much time feeling frustrated, angry and sad, because you understand how to be in this moment. You can therefore move to a higher and more productive energy level.

Take Action
Remember to check-in with yourself when you’re feeling overwhelmed, tired or stressed. Sometimes it is just you. Sometimes you are over-committed – you’ve hit your task threshold without realizing it. Be committed to your own mental well-being by checking in and being kind with yourself. Remember, experiencing your emotions is great. Just limit how much time you spend with the negative emotions. They can wear you out and help you miss the many great things going on in this moment of life.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading When “I Quit” is the Best Thing to Do

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Unhinged – How Do You Act When Things Don’t Go Your Way?

Your flight has been delayed. You have a meltdown in the airport and yell at an airline employee. Unhinged.

You and a fellow colleague have a disagreement about how to handle something in the workplace. It escalates into a screaming match, laced with profanities. Unhinged.

Stopped at a light, you look down to check your phone and the light changes from red to green. The driver behind you lays on the horn, flips you a gesture and screams at you. As you start to drive, he passes you, glares at you and mouths some profanities. Unhinged.

Your son was out with a group of his friends and was caught throwing apples from a local apple tree at cars as they drove by. You scream, rant and pace as you address this with your son. Your son yells back. Unhinged.

So many people let the little aggravations, irritations and frustrations of life bring them to a meltdown. They scream, yell, swear, blame, insult and a boatload of other bad behaviors. I call that being unhinged. They haven’t learned how to be calm, respectful, resilient and responsible in a world they have to share with others, a world that sometimes includes things that don’t go as planned. 

There has been much talk of mindfulness in recent years. Good. We need it. Mindfulness is the process of learning to be present to what is going on and then responding (vs reacting) calmly and with intention in a way that makes the next moment, interaction, conversation, response better.

We need mindfulness because most of us are in habit mode – simply reacting to the events of life – and unaware that we are stuck doing the same unproductive behaviors over and over. We can’t even see that we are unhinged. It is important for us to learn how to stop to notice what is going on to then assess what is an effective outcome and how it can be achieved.  

See, until you learn that your responses are always up to you (no one makes you do anything. Things happen and you react or, when things happen, you more mindfully, intentionally and wisely respond). Getting from one to the other is the key to living a happy, successful and responsible life.

So, how do you become more mindful and less unhinged?

First, develop your ability to be aware. You can’t manage what you can’t see. Take a breath in each situation, such as when your flight is delayed, you have a difference of opinion with a colleague, someone is slow to respond to a green light, your kid does something inappropriate. Then, look to understand the situation, your emotions and the outcome you want. In this exact moment, ask yourself this question (a question I ask all CEOs to consider in the situations of their days): Who do I have to be and how do I have to act in this moment to get the outcome I want? It helps you shift from habit to intention. In that moment, you become less reactive. You see you don’t need to lose your cool as it won’t improve the situation or give you the outcome you want. You don’t become unhinged.

Here is the best part. When you are less unhinged and more self-managed, people respond to you differently. Look at those who are routinely unhinged, out of control and self-unmanaged. They aggravate, intimidate and ruin the relationships with those around them. Unhinged parents limit their relationships with their kids. Unhinged managers create disengaged employees who leave when they can. Unhinged spouses and partners end up in dysfunctional relationships or divorces. How likely are you to stay in a relationship with someone who is out of control or continually unhinged?

We see it in life, in the workplace and certainly in the government. Until you take control of yourself to respond differently to the irritations, aggravations and frustrations of work, life and relationships, you will find yourself unhinged, melting down over little things and aggravating yourself and those around you.

Take Action
Stop and notice the last time something got you to scream, rant, yell or be unhinged. Don’t justify your actions, simply understand the situation that inspired your reaction. Now consider, what other responses you could have had in the moment where you focused on the outcome, not on the reaction. For you to get a better outcome, you will need to develop your self-management. See it to start to change it.

Life is as it is – it will always have its challenges. However, if you take the time to choose your response, you will limit the time you feel and act unhinged.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading This Can’t Be It, Right?

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Are you Ready to Act Like a Manager?

Being human means that sometimes our emotions get the best of us. Consider whether you would react or respond to the following situations.

  • Your best employee just gave her notice.
  • An employee has been late to work twice this week.
  • Your department is over budget in its spending for the month.
  • An important email was sent to a customer with typos and inaccurate information.
  • Two employees argue in front of the customer.
  • The office gossips about an employee who is having a personal problem.

You can vent. You can rant. You can react. But if you do, what is likely to happen is that you may not solve the situation but rather aggravate your team or customers in the process.

Instead, you could respond with intention. When responding, you allow yourself to see the situation from external and internal perspectives.

External. Stop and notice what is creating the situation. What information do you need to fully understand the situation to be able to handle it effectively? What are the circumstances, personalities and details affecting the situation? What is working and not working in this moment that is creating this?

Internal. Stop and notice you. What is your emotional state? What of your strengths will help you here? What triggers have been activated that you will need to manage? What situations or events of the past are you bringing forward?

The guidance I share with the executives I coach – and that has direct application for all managers – is to pause for a moment in any of these situations to get informed about the internal and the external. Once you fully understand the situation, the reason for it and what is going on with you, ask yourself this question: “Who do I need to be in this moment to create the outcome I want?”

It is in this moment that you can see your habit to vent, rant and overreact, or to wisely and calmly review and manage yourself, will affect the outcome and results you want. To be an effective manager requires that you act with intention, to respond instead of react.

Effective managers and leaders are present to both their situations and themselves. By stopping and noticing both the external and internal, they can more wisely and more intentionally respond instead of react. Relationships improve. Productivity and performance improve. Results improve.

Take Action
Stop and notice a challenging situation happening in your workplace. Take the time to gather the information you need – the external and the internal –  to be ready and able to solve it. With the information about the situation and your own review of yourself, ask yourself Who do I need to be in this moment to create the outcome I want? With the information you have, choose with intention what you do next.

This doesn’t mean you won’t raise your voice or get angry in a challenging situation. It just means that you choose that response after consideration of the situation, rather than default to an old habit. And when you take the time to consider what to do, you will likely find that the raised voice or anger, though a possible solution, may likely be an infrequent option in favor of a calm, sane and methodical response.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading A Tantrum is a Tantrum

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Thank You For What Didn’t Happen

Sometimes we are grateful for what happens. A beautiful day. A flight with no delays. A quiet and relaxing evening. A holiday with friends and family. A plate of great mac and cheese.

And sometimes we are grateful for what didn’t happen. The change to your schedule that kept you off a highway with an 8-mile backup. The party that was rescheduled to a Saturday with perfect weather. The stomach bug that got everyone in the office or your school except for you and your family.

But is it possible to be grateful for something you wanted to happen that didn’t? You wanted the job promotion, but they chose someone else. You wanted to play piano but there wasn’t the money for lessons when you were younger. You wanted to leave early to avoid the traffic but didn’t. You want your manager to be supportive and encouraging but he isn’t. You want your kids to get along better but they don’t.

It may be easier to say “thank you” when things go our way than when they don’t. But, in the moment of having something happen that you identify as not wanted or unfavorable, could you find something in it that is worthy of gratitude? Could it bring you a lesson you need, a new perspective or just the awareness that you choose to be happy or unhappy in your moments, regardless of what is going on? Consider this: the events of life are neutral – we are the ones that add the value to them.

I am not a believer in the phrase “things happen for a reason.” Instead, I believe it is up to each of us to create value in what happens. Whether things go or don’t go our way, it is up to us to remember that life is this way. You take the good, you take the bad; this is the only time you have.

So, in each moment, stop and notice what is worthy of appreciating because there is something there if you really look. Sometimes it will be easy to find; other times you will really have to search. Both make you better. Both remind you that this moment is up to you to decide how to be in it, whether things go your way or not.

Take Action
How can you develop gratitude in any moment – the ones that go your way and the ones that don’t? How can you train yourself to be grateful, happy and content no matter what?

We get to decide how to be in each moment. Our habits may need some redirecting, but we do have the ability to be grateful for whatever happens, whether it is for the good things that happen, or for the things you wanted to happen but didn’t. Opportunities and greatness exist everywhere.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading How Your Memories of Childhood Can Improve Your Future

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Are You Rigid or Flexible?

By Jay Forte

Do you remember Aesop’s fable “The Oak and the Reed”? It goes like this.

There once was a mighty oak who shared the bank of a river with a reed. The oak, proud of its strength and ability to stand up to the wind, critiques the reed as weak as even the slightest wind or the weight of a small bird can make it bend. The reed responds that it is not afraid of the wind because it has the ability to bend but not break. The mighty oak dismisses and praises its rigidity just as a strong wind comes and uproots the oak. The reed continues to bend and lives another day. The moral: Those who know how to bend and yield, succeed in life.

I think it’s pretty obvious that most of us are like the oak tree: rigid. Though there are benefits to this, it’s important to recognize that there are also some challenges. For example, when we are rigid, we hold on tightly to things we believe, even if we don’t know why we believe them. If a belief stops you from being your greatest self, or living authentically, or inhibits another person from doing the same, it is defined as a limiting belief.

Before you claim you don’t have any limiting beliefs, take a moment to reflect on this statement: we all have limiting beliefs. Many come from the way we were raised, what we were taught or who we spent (or spend) time with. Without recognizing limiting beliefs, you can find yourself remaining rigid in most situations when being flexible would allow you to accept new information, think more creatively and openly on your feet, update your beliefs and show up more successfully to each moment.

Let’s take a look at some powerful examples.

  1. Think about your political beliefs. How rigid are you in your beliefs about our current situation and your affiliation with one political party or another? How could you be open and flexible to define what you believe and not let others dictate this for you?
  2. Think about your role in the workplace. Where are you rigid in a way that does not serve you? How could being more flexible – more open, more creative, more supportive – to better encourage your performance and effectiveness? How could you encourage and support the ideas and perspectives of others, even if they may be contrary to yours?
  3. Think about your role as a parent. How rigid or flexible are you? How do you create and support meaningful rules for your kids but allow them change as your kids change? How do you involve your kids in establishing family rules and values to [appropriately] accommodate a variety of perspectives? How are you supporting your kids to be the best version of themselves, even if it isn’t in line with what you have planned for them?
  4. Think about your role as a person, in general. Where are you rigid in a way that alienates others? How could you be more flexible to allow others to be who they are instead of who you need or require them to be?

There isn’t one way to do anything; there are a lot of ways. Being rigid just rules out options and results in missing out on the great value others have to offer. To be successful in anything today, it requires you to be agile, flexible and responsive. It’s only with this perspective that you can truly benefit from the value in each moment.

When you stop and notice you, are you like the oak – standing rigid all the time – or are you more like the reed – flexible to accommodate life on life’s terms?

How you live is up to you. Rigid or flexible. It’s your choice.

Important Questions from a Coach:

1. Stop and notice. Are you more rigid in the most important aspects of your life or flexible?
2. What is something you can do today to become more flexible in one area of life that is of particular importance to you (work, relationships, etc.)?
3. What lessons do you need to learn to make each day happier, more successful and more loving?

 

Consider reading Are You a Life Owner or a Life Blamer?

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