Richard shares five tips to develop body wisdom.
I often find my corporate clients struggling with decision making because they get into a kind of black or white thinking They examine an issue and decide that it should either be yes or no, go or no-go or we’ve always done it that way, so let’s try something different this time. This kind of thinking typically happens because we fall back into familiar and comfortable ways of thinking.
Even the most mundane kinds of decisions often lead us to this binary way of thinking. Just this morning, my golfing buddy called me to ask what I thought about getting out and playing today. Dreary, cold and wet is the only way to describe today with a late spring snowstorm in the offing for tonight and tomorrow. If we’re going to get in any golf for the rest of this week, today, as bad as it seems would be the only option. Could we get in 18? Would the ground be too wet? How many layers would I have to put on to deal with 45-degree temperatures? Go or no go…that’s all I could think. Then Steve came up with a novel idea. Why don’t we go out and start playing and see how it goes. If it gets too cold, then we could come on in and have a big bowl of soup while watching playoff hockey? Great idea and off we went.
In my consulting work, I see one of my main tasks being to give my clients choices. I tell them that the color palette on your computer screen has over 1 million colors and while there may not be a million choices for you to consider when you are faced with a decision, you certainly have more than 2, probably more like 5-10. But at the very least you should think about how Goldilocks approaches her predicament when she entered the house of the Three Bears.
Goldilocks was hungry and discovered three bowls of porridge. She tried the first and it was too hot, then she tried the second and it was too cold, but when she tried the third one, it was just right and she ate it all down. Goldilock’s research revealed that given a series of choices she could try out one extreme, then another extreme and one which led her to a near perfect decision (other than being a home invader!)
In problem solving and decision-making for yourself and your team consider the extremes of the options that you have to choose from. What’s the worse case that can happen with that choice; what’s the best thing that can happen? By examining the extremes of alternatives, we often can find the appropriate middle ground that gives us the best and most acceptable choice from the array we can choose from.
While you might question Goldilocks overall decision making, she was definitely onto something when examining all her alternatives before making her final call. Evaluate your options thoroughly to make sure you give yourself the best chance for a nourishing an successful decision
The guy sitting next to me on the plane was sporting an all Ohio State outfit including t-shirt, hat and iphone skin and since I am an OSU grad, we struck up a conversation. Turns out that he is a soldier going back to Afghanistan for another tour of duty. Sent home just a month before and having been told he was done, he received a call just last week ordering him to return for another 3-month tour as an intelligence officer arranging logistics for medi-vacs. Seems that he’s responsible for making sure wounded warriors get to the right hospital base.
He’d seen his fill of war after two tours in Iraq and now a tour in Afghanistan and I just listened as he described the unfair burden he’s carried on my behalf. But when he started talking about how his service impacted his family life—ruining his marriage and how he’s missed his kids growing up, he could not hold back the tears and started weeping. Of course he apologized but I just put my hand on his shoulder and thanked him for his sharing.
We talked for the rest of the flight about his views of the Army and the war and how fruitless it all seemed since he believed that as soon as we leave, planning for the next 9/11 will begin again. “The Afghani’s are a tough people”, he told me, “a lot tougher than we can imagine and no amount of nation building on our part will make a real dent in what happens after we leave.
I wondered about what he thought his resilience to all this will be? How will you recover? Do you think you and your wife can reconcile? How can you miss those years with your kids? “I didn’t know”, he told me. “Right now I just need to get back there, do my 3 months and try to reconnect with my life, whatever that is going to be”.
He had to run off the plane to make a connection to his flight to Baltimore that would take him to Germany and beyond. He thanked me for listening to him and he hoped it was okay that he cried. He told me he really needed to.
Another thing to know about the resilience versus the management model as I said is about how you anticipate and prepare for stressful events even this issue of navigation where you find yourself in the heat of a battle. I want to talk about these three mechanisms a little bit more in preparation, hardiness, navigation, and this recovery and bounce back. So these are the three mechanisms and these three mechanisms are really important.
The first story I want to share with you is an example of this. So I am going to tell you a little story about Arthur Ashe. Arthur Ashe was the first African-American tennis player to win single tournaments at Wimbelton, the US Open, and the Australian Open. And you may be familiar with the name Arthur Ashe if you are not a tennis fan because the US Open is held every year at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows, NY. So Arthur Ashe is considered really one of the all-time greats in tennis but Ashe was not a particularly overpowering tennis player the way today’s tennis players are. Ashe was more subtle. Ashe was fluid. Ashe was understanding of his opponents and understood the game. He was an artist of the game more than he was a warrior of the game. He was always seen as a smart player. That was considered one of his greatest assets and when he was talked to about this quality he said that the important key to his victory was self-confidence and that the most important ingredient that he used for self-confidence was preparation. Ashe would study his opponents. He would be familiar with the surface that he was playing on. He was aware of the weather and the conditions that he was going to be playing on. He used all of those factors not to mention his own talent and the understanding of his own strengths and what he did well to prepare and be ready ahead of time and even to build hardiness as we like to say in the face of the game that he was anticipating. If he was going to be playing against a hard server he might stand back a little bit from the base line. If he was playing with somebody who had really good ground strokes he would be ready for attacking the net. Ashe understood the game and understood how to prepare for it properly so that when he went into a match when he went into a tournament with somebody he knew exactly what his plan was and how he would play that out. And that ability to prepare really set Arthur Ashe apart from other tennis players of his era.
While being prepared is important where the rubber really meets the road is in what I call navigation. So let’s stick with our sports analogy for a bit. Most of us who enjoy sports of one kind or another are inevitably going to be spending some Sunday afternoons watching our favorite professional football team whether it is the Pittsburgh Steelers here in Pittsburgh or the Cleveland Browns or the Baltimore Ravens or the Dallas Cowboys whoever your favorite team is and you know that as that game goes on for the first quarter, the second quarter, third quarter, fourth quarter you get more involved. You get more psyched. You get more excited. You know and think about what happens as you get more nervous as the game comes down to that last two minutes, those final two minutes and its looking like and you are hoping that your team may be in a position to score the winning touchdown. Well, think about how anxious and excited you get you know you are jumping up and down and your heart is racing, you are throwing your hands up, and you go “Oh my God no! No! Oh yes! Yes! Go team!” and you have got all of this excitement about what is happening in the game. Well if you are that excited I want you to stop for a moment and think what it must be like for the quarterback, the field goal kicker or the leading pass receiver? How do they deal with that enormous stress that is occurring during the game? Is it experience? Are their nerves hardwired to be just as calm as they can be? Or are they just freaking out as much as you are and they just don’t show it the way you do? As we get into the skills of navigation we talk about the resilience qualities and tips we are going to be focusing on this idea of navigation and how you deal with the stress in the moment. How you deal with it when it is actually occurring. Again, in the stress management model it is that idea of hold on for dear life. In the resilience model it is about breathing, moving forward, and throwing that winning touchdown and that is what we are going to be talking about as we talk about navigation and focusing on navigation.
Well, you know the third area we want to talk about is about recovery and bounce back. That is the third key mechanism for resilience. I want to tell you about Jim Loehr who is a sports psychologist, we are going to stick with our sports analogy here the whole way through, and writer. Loehr coined the term corporate athletes several years ago to depict the kinds of physically and mentally demanding challenges that face people every day in the workplace. You know, we were talking about football a minute ago and Loehr noted that in many ways the workplace was a much more stressful environment than the ball field because of one very big reason. After a big game the athletes could forget about that game. They took some time off, they rested, the game was over, there was nothing they could do about it and then start preparing actually for the new game. They have built in recovery times for between games for rest, study, and recuperation in ways that regular working stiffs like us don’t have. We may get the weekend off but for most of us we are checking email or we are working on a project or we are submitting a proposal. When we get back to work on Monday it is those same projects that continue and many times in the workplace we never really get a chance to finish up a project or complete something, it maybe incomplete but before we finish that one we are on to another one and there is no real break time. As a result, while athletes do not always perform perfectly, they usually have the feeling that they are starting fresh before each game a feeling that is mostly unfamiliar to most folks in the workplace. So for us we want to focus on this recovery and bounce back time. We want to make sure we have that built into our workplace and into our home life so that we can refresh and think about how we want approach new problems in a new way.
There are ten more areas that are right for improving your energy and for using rituals and routines to improve your management. Think about what you can do to create more automation in these areas:
Pick a couple of these areas out and try creating an automation, a ritual, or a routine to improve your management. I think you will find that your energy and your resilience becomes a lot stronger.