brain and heart

The Voice for Insightful Leadership with Shelley Row, P.E.

Posts tagged "perfection"

brain and heartHoliday shopping. Holiday cooking. Holiday travel plans. Holiday decorating. Holiday visitors. Holiday hubbub. It’s easy to get lost in the holiday this-and-that. In the midst of the holiday bustle, I challenge you to also reflect and plan but in a different way. Instead of cataloging accomplishments, reflect first on what you accomplished, then on how it felt as you worked toward those accomplishments. You might discover insights that impact your 2019 goals and how you work toward them.

For example, as I reviewed my 2018 accomplishments and considered my 2019 goals, I mused at how (or if) infotuition applies here. You’re thinking, “Infotuition?” Infotuition is the integration of thinking and feeling in leadership and life. Infotuition leads me to realize that it matters both what you do and how you feel as you do it.

Try this. Identify the goals you accomplished in 2018 of which you are most proud. You may want to separate them into work, personal, community and your spiritual life. Now, consider how you felt as you worked toward these goals. Be honest. Notice what the answers tell you. Here’s what I discovered.

Shelley’s 2018 work accomplishments: earned my Certified Speaking Professional™ designation, was named an Inc. magazine as a top 100 leadership speaker, created the Insightful Leadership brand, produced a new demo video, and engaged new clients.

As I worked toward these goals I felt: Proud and pleased with the growth of the work but busy. Really, really busy. Stressed and frazzled on some days. Barely enough time to serve clients and contribute to my community service goals.

My take-away? While I’m proud of my accomplishments and want to accomplish more in 2019, I intend to approach it differently so that I create more space in the day to be creative and to devote some time to other interests, too.

Now it’s your turn. Go ahead….list your accomplishments. There’s a space here.

My accomplishments at work are:

How did I feel as I worked toward these goals? (Relaxed, exhilarated, inspired, peaceful, realistic, frantic, proud)

My accomplishments in my personal life are:

How did I feel as I worked toward these goals?

My accomplishments for my community are:

How did I feel as I worked toward these goals?

My accomplishments in my spiritual life are:

How did I feel as I worked toward these goals?

What did you discover? Are you over-extending in some areas at the expense of others? Is the price you pay for accomplishment too high? Infotuition teaches that it’s just as important to consider how you achieve your goals as what you achieve.

With this in mind, write your 2019 goals together with how you’d like to feel along the way (relaxed, exhilarated, inspired, peaceful, realistic, proud or rested). Let that clarity color the approach you take to your goals and guide the atmosphere with which you surround yourself. Now that’s infotuition!

Photo Copyright : Jan Hruby

You drive along admiring the fall colors when suddenly the check engine light comes on in your car. What does that mean? For most of us, the check engine light indicates that something is wrong inside the car. We best find out what it is.

You have an internal check engine light. It’s the nagging feeling you get when something isn’t sitting right. Do you diagnose your nagging feeling just as you diagnose your car?

You tape over it. At a recent keynote address, I asked the audience what they do when their car’s check engine light comes on. A woman on the front row said, “I tape over it!” When your check engine light comes on, do you tape over it, ignore or discount it? As with your car, ignoring it is unlikely to be a sound solution. The source of the nagging feeling is still there.

Much in our culture reinforces the misguided notion that feelings lack validity or are not worthy of notice. We may be embarrassed by them or simply not have the skill to notice. The nagging feeling typically arises because the situation is incongruent with your brain’s expectation. Maybe the situation (or person) flies in the face of your value system. That always sets off the check engine light. Maybe the person has a communication or work style approach that radically differs from yours and it feels uncomfortable. Maybe your experience leads you to see the situation differently from your colleagues.

Incongruence increases stress, causes you to over-react, make a poor decision or create an upset with a colleague. You can prevent those unhealthy outcomes if, like in your car, you notice it.

Notice the check engine light. You notice the light in your car and you know that you need to do something … soon. Unfortunately, many of us power through the day without attending to the emotion that bubbles under the surface. We shove it aside.

It’s time that we relearn how to notice the nagging feeling in the gut. The feeling brings information and wisdom to your situation. The best way to notice the feeling is to practice naming it. “I feel annoyed by that discussion.” “My boss frustrates me!” “Something doesn’t feel right about this decision.”

Give voice to the gut feeling. It’s like acknowledging the check engine light and the need to attend to your car. You need to attend to your inner wisdom.

Understand the problem. The best action is to dive under the hood of the car (for real or with a mechanic) to find the source of the alert. Maybe it’s an indication of a big problem or maybe it’s an easy fix. It’s the same for you. The wisest of us notices the check engine light and dives under the hood to understand the nagging feeling. If you aren’t confident with vehicles, it might be worth visiting this Westminster auto repair shop, for example, to see if they could find the cause of the check engine light. They could also fix the problem, allowing the car owner to drive away problem-free.

What is incongruent for you? Does their behavior fly in the face of your values? Does the decision you face challenge your assumptions? Does the person conduct their work differently from you? These are examples of incongruence in the brain. Your experience doesn’t square up with your expectations. When that happens, the check engine light goes off. It’s your job to understand why and decide if the reason is valid.

Your car may break down if you ignore the check engine light. Your health, life and leadership depend on noticing and resolving the nagging feeling inside. What’s your check engine light telling you?

Photo: Bwylezich

PaintingSix little girls about eight-years old, a mom with her small son, and me and my friend, Patti. We were at Painting With a Twist in South Austin. A blank, white canvas and a paper plate (a perfect substitute for a palette) with puddles of paint in vibrant colors was in front of each of us. In the front of the room, the instructor stood with a microphone to give instructions as she demonstrated each step.

Just start. With confidence she said, “Take a big scoop of dark blue paint and paint a line across the canvas.” Easy for her to say!  We all stared at the dollops of paint and the pristine white canvas and paused. It felt a bit intimidating.  Have you ever felt that way before starting a big project? There is a hurdle of inertia to clear just to begin. Sometimes we procrastinate so it’s key to just start.  Do anything to take that first step. Take a big gulp of courage, dip in the brush and boldly, as though you know what you’re doing, paint a bright blue line across the whiteness. There, now. You’re underway.

Plan ahead. We were painting a Van Gogh-like design of a beach with a “Starry Night” motif. The instructor showed us where to paint the sun and the wind but she said to plan ahead as there were dashes to be painted around the sun. If we weren’t careful, there wouldn’t be room for all the other features.  It’s the same with our work.  The successful manager is always planning ahead. What are the next steps? What factors need to be anticipated? Is the schedule designed to accommodate the unexpected?  The unexpected should be expected

Give it time. At a couple of intervals during our painting session, we paused to let the first layer of paint dry so we could paint over the top of it with another color. As we waited, the little girls grew restless and fidgety. But if we rushed and tackled the next step too soon, the colors would swirl together and the design would be lost.  Many times, we rush the next steps.  There’s much to be said for carefully pacing work and allowing time for each step to be socialized.  “Waiting for paint to dry” might include discussing your project with those from whom you need support. It might be collaborating with those involved in the next step. It might simply be giving yourself and others a break from the onslaught of work. Whatever it is, give it time so that the next step isn’t rushed.

Go with what you’ve got. As we finished our paintings, around the room we heard: “My tree is too big!” “My beach ball is lopsided!” “My leaves ran off the edge of the canvas!” Even Patti and I grimaced, “My coconuts don’t look right.” But when we stepped back and looked around the room, we were surrounded by happy smiles and brightly painted canvases.  Yes, there were some ….hmmm, irregularities, but we each had more right than wrong. And, again, there’s a parallel with our work. We tend to quickly identify the irregularities without noticing the color, design and vibrancy. We fixate on what’s wrong and miss the majority of things that are right.