The way we work isn’t working.
Pushing harder to do more is our automatic “fail-safe” behavior for achieving the results we want. At least we think so. It has worked in the past, we see it all around us and we tend to believe, that if we are not successful in reaching our goals, it is because we have not tried hard enough, spent enough time or we might even think we are not capable. Sounds familiar?
I hear it all the time from people I coach on their human performance and leadership, “I just need to …” as if we can flick a switch and all of a sudden we will do what it is we have not been doing. Well if it were that easy, how come we have not been doing it? Because it is not that simple after all, is it?
We don’t wake up motivated.
What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning? Do you think of what is ahead and what you need to do? Maybe even what you did not get done yesterday and it is still hanging out on your “to-do list”. You might even wake up already stressed, rather than motivated to get started on all the projects ahead. The thing about stress, it blocks us from seeing the options around and ahead of us.
I think a lot of people believe that they “should” be waking up motivated and that being a leader means you are always motivated. It would be nice for sure, but that is not how motivation works, because fear and doubt kills motivation and creativity, -and we all have it.
And that is ok.
There is nothing wrong with us for having fear and doubt. Actually I would consider it abnormal and maybe even ignorant if you did not have any. Fear and doubt helps us pay attention to the possible dangers ahead. The key however is to NOT believe the stories we might tell ourselves about “what happens if…” and instead use the fear and doubt to be sign-posts and tell-tales for where we might need to learn more and pay extra attention.
Fear and doubt can be our aware and mindful helper rather than our inner critic and constant “spirit-robber”. Fear has helped us survive for centuries exactly because it has made us mindful of dangers. The switch is to recognize when the story takes us away from the present moment, which is when we lose our power to do something about it and instead go on automatic “fix-it-mode”.
Be here now.
When we go to work with the mindset of “what problems might happen today” we look for trouble. When we go to work with the mindset “how can I do my best work today” we look for solutions to those problems. When we go to work empty, without fuel and care, we are already running on survival mode. When we go to work fueled and nourished, we are ready for the task ahead. Being ready for the day ahead does not mean to honker down, bite down and put on our warrior outfit. Ready is to be centered, ready and able to be present to engage with the people and the projects that are ahead.
Performance is not about more, it is about better.
To be able to pay attention, be discerning and focus on what is important we need to take care of our basic survival needs first. Water, food and rest. They are the foundation for us being busy, better, because it is how we can un-stress and give our bodies what we need, to be at our best.
When we are working on survival mode, we do what we have always done, because we focus on what is urgent and we are driven by instinct. When we go to work nourished, we are on performance mode. We can focus on what is important and we are driven by inspiration.
What if you started each day pausing instead of rushing. Listening instead of telling. Wondering instead of doubting. Looking for the best way forward instead of being concerned or stressed by what is ahead.
What if you started each day by asking yourself; “how am I feeling and what do I need so I can do my best work today?”
If you were wondering what you need, so you are supported in doing all the things required of you, what do you think would change in your relationship with yourself?
Here is the thing.
When you start being that way with yourself, you start being that way with others. You start asking your team, what do you need so you can get this done? If you start listening to your team and ask them questions about how they would solve a problem, instead of telling them what to do, which takes away their motivation and keeps the burden of responsibility on you?
If you care.
If you care, things change instead of you having to change them, because you un-stress and start observing and noticing what needs your attention rather than trying to keep your mind on everything (and nothing). If you care about people, they start caring about themselves and about their job too. And they can wake up wondering what they need, to do their best work today too.
We need soft-skills.
Bring your your humanity, your self-care and your soft-skills to work and see how your work, your leadership, your performance and your potential is transformed. It is how we build a culture of care at work, because without care, we don’t have culture.