Here's the punch line: We live in a VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complex,
& ambiguous) where we are ALWAYS wired in, connected, and ON. After extended periods of this, it doesn't usually feel good.
Cue *burnout, exhaustion, emotional distress* Ahem.
And 2020 was nothing short of this.
Here's the good news: slowing down can actually be your power move!
“There are no trade-offs between leading an effective life and also being mindful and taking care of that deeper dimension of ourselves. Performance is actually improved when we make sleep and renewal a priority.” - Arianna Huffington
If you think about your favourite and most effective manager/leader/mentor that you've had, what qualities come to mind? Some of the common answers I hear are: inspiring, motivating, disciplined, strong communicator, empathetic, understanding, positive, calm, clear vision, consistent...none of these are technical capabilities. You probably wouldn't say "my best manager was so good because he/she was an excel master!" The memorable characteristics are all in the 'soft skills' area or Emotional Intelligence capabilities.
The reason we are not all more emotionally intelligent, is because this isn't taught in school, we operate from habit patterns of the mind so we are reactive to stimuli and compelled by emotions. Oh, and also because we're always "busy" and rushing! Think about it this way...when you make a reso at an expensive fancy restaurant months in advance, you would allow a few hours to enjoy the experience at said restaurant. Savouring every bite of food, engaged in conversation with your fellow foodies, and soaking up the ambiance that comes with the $33 cauliflower appetizer. When you are pressed for time, you go through the McDonald's drive through, eat a burger while driving to your destination, choking as you come to an abrupt halt at an orange light that the car in front of you should have gone through.
The real question is how do we carry the chill, suave, and positive attention that you had at the fancy restaurant in moments of life when you feel like yelling "muppet in the red mazda! WHY did you stop? It wasn't red!"
Mindfulness means paying attention on purpose and without judgment. Simply put, Emotional Intelligence is the ability to be aware of yourself and what you're feeling, being aware of someone else and what they're probably feeling, and using all this information to guide your actions.
Emotional Intelligence includes aspects like Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Motivation, Empathy, and Compassion. I'll break it down a little more here...
- Self-Awareness: Being aware of our internal states (like emotions). When we are in the present moment, we are aware of these emotions as they arise, not after all the fume is coming out of our ears! Studies show that our bodies and intuition knows give us signals (example sweaty palms) before our mind becomes aware of it. SO, the sharper our ability to become aware of our emotions and understand them, the more ahead of the game we can stay.
- Self-Management: Managing these emotions and internal states. When we are present, we can share our thoughts, feelings, ideas etc in a more respectable manner vs. running around with a hot temper. This means we get to choose how we want to communicate our emotions to others. How are you going to communicate your frustration? Option 1: "Hey team I appreciate that we're all here together, but I wonder if next time we could send out an agenda to help clarify who really needed to attend the meeting. That way we can all be a little more effective with our time because I know we all have full plates right now." Option 2: "Well team, whoever organized this should have known better. If you were more "with it" you would have seen that I didn't even need to be at this meeting, what a waste of my hour!"
- Motivation: What gets you amped up? What drives you from your core? When you are present, you stay connected and aligned to what is driving you to make decisions. But the first step is to become aware of what these drivers are. This is crucially important for personal values to align to organizational values - this makes productivity effortless!
- Empathy & Compassion: Connecting with others. When we stay present, we know how to truly understand with someone (and no this does not mean you have to agree with them). This also does not mean that you have to take on the feelings for them. There is no fixing needed. Instead, you just need to be there. For example, if a friend tells you about a hit and run that damaged their car perhaps say "Yeah wow that's awful, I'm sorry this is happening. I don't even know what to say, but I'm here with you." instead of saying "Well at least you have another car". Studies have shown this is a core foundation to building trust, report, and high-performing teams!
Imagine being in a workplace surrounded by teammates who understand themselves a little bit better, can communicate their fears and frustrations with an appropriate demeanour of calmness and rationality, and can support teammates to rise up and continue kicking ass just by learning to listen & ask questions instead of jumping to conclusions. Imagine if your employees were truly intrinsically motivated, aligned to your organization, and feel at their best during work. Now multiply this across all your departments, business units, and leadership levels and across all WFH situations because these skills transcend distance....Imagine how indestructible and resilient your workplace culture would be, how this would reduce burnout and turnover, and how this will impact your bottom line.
If you're interested in building a kick-ass workplace culture of empowered employees let's chat! Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Let's get cracking and crush 2021!