Monday, August 16, 2010

Can You Develop Patience …. Like Now?

I’ve heard repeatedly that age old phrase of “be careful what you wish for” and it’s often applied to wishing you had more patience. Some even tell me when they pray for patience they seem to get all kinds of opportunities to practice it in some not so fun times! Well, I’d like to develop patience… like now! Why wait? Hehe!

Patience isn’t something you hurry or rush into. Obviously. So wanting it now is a bit of an oxymoron or set up in irony. However, how often have we wanted to just sit back, await great things, and go with the flow? I wish for it a lot, but what I do instead is quite different. I struggle, fight, fuss, and try to force things to happen now all while wishing I were a more patient person. Well, that’s just silly and going with the flow takes… well, letting go. How do you do that?

Timing Is Important

Have you ever noticed that when you let things happen as you gain the knowledge or as it seems “they are supposed to” or “when they occur naturally” that they often work out even better than you might have planned? It seems to hold true. For example, If you had rushed that coaching conversation with Suzie, she wouldn’t have made the great sale first and given you a chance to celebrate while giving feedback, a much easier conversation. Come up with some times in which you know the timing of events was important and remind yourself of those the next time you want to push and rush. Then sit back, let go and release the need to force things.

Forced Behaviors Never Fair as Well as Those That Flow

How much faster do you get things done when you are in the zone? My guess is at a rather rapid rate and with much more satisfying results. Allow yourself the time and attitude to get in the zone before you kick things into high gear. If you are forcing your own behavior, it will not go as well, it will feel like drudgery, and you will become impatient. Find that zone and let it flow out of you as if your energy is endless.

Know When to Lead Yourself and When to Get Out of the Way

Okay, I get it. Sometimes we do just have to muster up the strength to make tough decisions, eat that frog (so to speak), or do those things we don’t like. However, keep in mind the difference between having to overcome fear and procrastination and listening to when your instincts are telling you now is NOT the right time to do that. The difference is subtle at first and gets louder with practice. Lead yourself to “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway” (great book by Susan Jeffers!) and listen to those instincts when they tell your brain to hush and follow your gut.

I’ve about decided patience is a learned skill for those of us who prefer to “do” stuff regularly. It’s almost like we “doers” spend a great deal of time bragging about how busy we are, how stressed we feel, and how much we’ve tried to cram into one day! We even think that somehow Type A is a compliment, when it was actually the label given to the dead people in a Stress induced death study done in the 70s. But the ones who get it seem to get much less wrapped around the axle about the small stuff. They really don’t sweat the small stuff and they really do seem happier with their own sense of patience, timing, and trust. So how do you learn patience, well you just let go, like now… like right now… let go and go with the flow.

Chime In: What could you become more patient about by letting go of a need to force or control?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Cheat: Get Hindsight Ahead of Time

What is it about the moment we’re promoted that implies we know it all right away? It seems to apply to parenting, volunteer roles, and management positions. But, no matter what your title, I‘m quite certain your hindsight was more clear on some things than what you thought you knew when you got the job. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could cheat and get some “hindsight” ahead of time? Well, you can.

My father once said that “Wisdom is something you gain from the experience of others.” Doesn’t that sound a lot better than having to learn it the hard way? We don’t have to know it all and in order to gain some wisdom and some clarity and some hindsight, cheat, so to speak, and follow these steps:

Ask someone who has Been there, Done that.

Hindsight and lessons learned are what prompted me to write Contagious Leadership in the first place. I made so many mistakes and the biggest one is I very rarely asked for help. Find a mentor or a person who has done the role you now have, well, and ask their advice. Most often people love to share what they have learned and you don’t always have to TAKE their advice, but it adds to your perspective.

Become an Observer.

While it’s true that we all learn differently and that only about 20% of the population is what we call kinesthetic learners, who must learn by doing, there is something to be said for watching how it’s done before you launch into your own trial and error experiment. When leading people, trial and error can have some detrimental and truly contagious ripple effects. Why not step back, take a seat, and watch someone else to see what works and what didn’t? Keep in mind, once you observe, you will need to get out of the bleachers and take action, but if you’ll become a student of others first, the actions you take will have more positive results than diving in and doing with simply no clue of your possible outcomes.

Find a coach.

If we have a medical issue, we go to a doctor. We usually don’t assume what we find on Wikipedia will substitute for a medical degree. We ask an expert. When our car breaks down, we might look online a little, but at the end of the day, if it stops the car from moving, we find an expert. In business, why is this so different? If you’ve never been a manager before or a business owner before and what you are doing is stopping the business from moving, why wouldn’t you seek out an expert who has done what you need to do and pay them for their expertise?

With each of these steps, you’ll find valuable information. With each of these steps you’ll learn from someone else’s wisdom. It’s not cheating really, it’s called growth and a gaining of hindsight ahead of time. After all, those people who taught you to walk and talk, you listened to and learned from by observing, testing, and trusting their expertise, as they were telling you with language what to do from that standing up and walking position.

Chime In!

How have you benefitted from coaching, others’ wisdom and gained hindsight ahead of time?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Dealing with Discipline… Is it a Burden or a Responsibility?

Good morning and Happy Monday. I’m Monica Wofford and this is your Monday Moment.

So someone has done something you disagree with. Maybe they broke a policy or committed an egregious error for which they need to be informed, guided, and experience a course correction. That is what we call discipline and that is all it is – guidance, information, and a course correction. However, keep in mind that course corrections completed early on in someone’s growth and development are much easier to convey and carry out, than a course correction shared after a habit has been formed.

Perhaps this visual will help. If you were the captain of a large cruise ship and you left the port on a charted course that was one degree off your anticipated direction. If you only maintained the off course direction for an hour or two, it would be easy to make a correction and get back on track without any great loss of time. If you, however, maintained the slight off-course direction for several days, you might find yourself in a completely different country or continent than you intended and one does not just hit the blinker switch and flip a “U-ie” in a cruise ship out in the middle of the ocean.

Your role as a contagious leader of you, your life and others, is to provide gentle course corrections early on enough to make a long term difference. But, keep these things in mind…

Discipline is better received in private than in public.

Discipline is a dish better served with warmth than cold hearted facts, even if the consequences are large!

Discipline, when shared from your ‘wit’s end’ or a point at which you have “lost it” will almost always be taken personally and as criticism. The point is to provide feedback and course correction, so speak up early and consider the value in sharing your guidance versus letting things go (i.e. stuffing them) until you are ready to blow up.

Honor those you are leading with the sharing of your wisdom and experience. If they knew how to do it the way you do, they likely would. If they had lived your experience and were operating from your place of wisdom, they would likely have your role. Your wisdom and experience gives you a responsibility, not a position of being better or more special. Do not take that responsibility and the privilege it is to share your information with others, lightly.

Discipline is rarely considered to be one of the joys of leadership and many will shy away from those conversations that start with phrases like “we need to talk” or “what were you thinking?” and rightly so. But for growth and development, discipline is needed. After all, when you were little, weren’t you disciplined for wanting to run out into oncoming traffic? Probably. But weren’t you glad someone told you to look both ways?

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great Monday and of course, Stay Contagious!