Last week I had the pleasure of speaking with an organization by the name of WWHEL (Wisconsin Women in Higher Education Leadership) about the concept of “Centered Leadership” (CL) which essentially is about finding your purpose, managing your energy, connecting with yourself/others, reframing difficult experiences and engaging in life.
Speaking with several people prior to the conference, a common theme emerged of what they desired. It was this idea of feeling more “grounded” physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. The result? A whole lot more CALM in your home, heart, and head.
Sounds appealing, right? Also sometimes easier said than done!
The thing is, we all desire tools to create more ease in our everyday because let’s face it… who wants overwhelm, stress, and anxiety?! Not me, no sir-ee.
So this week I’ll share with you a few of my favorite tools from my time with these lovely ladies… but first one thing. It’s essential to really absorb this one thing before you get excited about any tip from any book, guru, or blog. Are you ready?
You must stop fighting with “what is.”
In other words, in order to move forward out of any “stuckness” you might be experiencing you must first come to terms with the fact that life sometimes is amazingly mind-blowing awesome… and sometimes it’s not. In fact, sometimes it really stinks.
And from personal experience, it can get worse when you continue to argue with reality.
No tool, exercise, or magic potion will ever create nirvana down here in what I call H.U (aka Human University.) That’s just not what we signed up for.
But what we do have is the potential to experience riding the waves of life… and within those waves lie fear, joy, insecurity, humor, sadness, beauty, stress, and peace.
Trust me, I 100% believe we can create the reality we desire… and I also believe it’s dangerous to expect everything should be perfect and that when it isn’t, YOU did something wrong. Perhaps you experience a deeper sense of calm when you are able to ride the happy waves AND the turbulent ones without permanently trying to hold on to them.
Do you find yourself dipping between the highs and lows frequently? That may be a sign you are fighting with “what is.”
You’ve heard me talk about Byron Katie before and I’ll mention her again. Her book, Loving What Is, provides easy tools to begin experiencing this energy of contentment on a regular basis…all by staying in your own business.
You hop on the scale and you’ve lost 5 pounds. WOOHOO! Life is sunnier, the birds are singing, you are walking on clouds all day, and all is perfect in the universe.
A week later, you hop on the scale and have gained 2 pounds back. Life sucks. You snap at anyone in earshot. You curse your choices over the past week and berate yourself until you are beaten down into submission and don’t eat the entire day… that is until 7 pm when you raid the pantry.
What is going on???
Well, first off you are arguing with reality… and you just put your happiness in the hands of a scale. And when you do that, that piece of metal has the power to grant you joy.. and also to steal it. Now, how bizarre is that?!
Your son is in a super-duper great mood. His joy elevates your own. You feed off his positive energy and feel like “THIS IS AWESOME!” Your day is “good” because he is “good.”
Your son is having a bad day. He’s got a test and always gets anxiety the day before. It affects you when out of the blue he isn’t his normal happy and funny self. Suddenly, you are feeling hurt, resentful, and confused… and throw some bad energy/words/looks back on to him. Now you both lose.
What is going on???
Again, you just placed the power of your feelings into someone else’s hands. You simply gave it away…and then you’re surprised when someone else’s mood ruins yours.
In both cases, you are fighting with the current state of reality. When you make a conscious and intentional effort to LOVINGLY “stay in your lane,” you protect your energy while also allowing others to authentically feel the way they feel or for outside circumstances to be what they may. The result? The reality of “what is” no longer robs you of your joy.
I really wanted to touch on that a bit as I have a habit of allowing life’s circumstances or the moods of others affect me. When I fall into that trap, I find that I am literally unable to practice the exact tools that support me… things like meditation, self-care, etc.
So before you do anything, practice and experiment with total acceptance of “what is.” It’s not “giving up” or “giving in” but instead empowering yourself to get on with your life. Becoming attached to the good times OR the bad times simply is equivalent to handing out your power like treats on Halloween. “You’re upset with me because I don’t agree with you? Okay, here’s some of my precious energy as I backpedal.” “My thighs aren’t what they used to be? Okay, thighs, here is some of my bright and shiny energy for you to dissolve with feelings of self-hatred.”
Quit laughing! It’s true!
So let’s get on with the fun stuff, shall we?
Let’s dive into 5 of my favorite tools that marry well with the 5 elements of Centered Leadership (CL).
CL Element #1: Meaning.
Finding meaning in your life happens when you discover the simple pleasures, put your strengths/gifts to use every day, and live your purpose. You might be saying to yourself, “I have no clue what my purpose is!”
Well, you are in luck because I have an idea of what it might be:
When you hand out your gifts (aka: your strengths) to others AND actually do the things on your pleasure list, pretty soon you wake up and realize you are indeed living your purpose.
Tool: Authentically YOU
Send an email out to 10 people. A mixture of friends, family, colleagues, clients, etc.
In the email ask them to pick 3-5 words that perfectly describe the essence of you. I have a fun exercise titled “Authentically You” I’m happy to share. Shoot me an email and I’ll send it over.
What you will find is there will be a common thread of words. They might be things like “confident, happy, elegant, funny, trustworthy, etc.”
Guess what? These words are your personal brand, your gifts, your strengths, and the essence of YOU! Stepping into those words during the good times and the “bad” times is what will bring you back to center as well as bring a lot more joy to others in your world.
#2: Positive Framing
In a nutshell, this is all about managing your behavior to create desired outcomes. It’s the ability to pause and really look at a situation before allowing a knee jerk reaction to throw you off course.
Think of it this way… Your reaction = Your Reality.
You can step into “frantic Franny ” when things get chaotic OR embody “elegant Evelyn.” Which one do you think ends up having a nicer day?
When you are feeling anxious, triggered, or confused before walking out your front door, logging on to a virtual call, or walking into a meeting simply PAUSE, then CHALLENGE yourself with a question such as “how do I want to feel after this meeting/at the end of the day/after this call” and then most importantly, make the CHOICE to step into those feelings.
Are you in the game of life or leaning on the “easy buttons?” Things like:
Refusing to forgive yourself
If you feel it’s time to find your voice and take some healthy risks, take inventory of not only the easy buttons but the fears you hold on to.
Tool: Dear Fear…
Dear (Insert Your Name),
This is your fear talking and I am going to tell you everything that is causing me distress and why I am existing in your life. You think I am the one who is holding you back from engaging in life but I am here to protect you, to protect us… and this is what I have to tell you:
(This is where you write down everything within you that is full of fear and what it has to say)
Next, write a letter back to fear.
Thank you for expressing yourself and or letting me respond…. (go on to intuitively write your response…)
Connecting is not just “networking” but more about creating a community. The foundation of any community is trust and reciprocity. Do the people in your world know they can depend on you? Can you depend on you? Are your relationships reciprocal or one-sided? Do you find yourself open to new ideas and possibilities without judgment?
A great tool around connecting is one of my favorites. Here you go…
Tool: Your Divine Team
Grab a piece of paper and draw a picture or yourself or a vision statement in the middle enclosed in a circle.
Around this center circle, draw 4 circles near the four corners of the piece of paper labeling them:
- Well Being
Next, under each bubble, list the people in your life you would include as mentors, cheerleaders, coaches, etc.
Finally, as you look at each person, draw a line between the name and your vision.
Questions to ask…
Is there reciprocity between you and each of your team members?
Are there areas where I don’t have anyone on my team?
Do I need to make additions or any adjustments to my current team?
How can I strengthen the connection between me and my team members?
#5: Managing Your Energy
This is a biggie. Without adequate energy, we can’t tap into our purpose, engage in life, connect with others, or have the insight to see the silver linings.
I’ll leave you with an acronym I use to remind myself of the 5 Self-Care Pillars to manage my own energy level:
MISSC (Missy but with a C
M: Movement – Just getting out for a 20-minute walk energizes you… and your dog!
I: Intake- This is not only about the foods and beverages you consume but also your intake in terms of social media, the news, gossip, drama, and other people’s energy.
S: Sleep- Need I say more?
S: Stress- What works for you? It might be a long run or spin class… or a yoga and meditation class. Finding out what works for you is key.
C: Connection- Waking up in the morning and asking yourself “How do I want to feel today”… Asking your family or colleagues “What can I do to make it a great day for you?” … and my all-time favorite, asking your angels to find a good parking spot. Never underestimate the power of connecting and asking for support from those in your world…and beyond!
What I love about Centered Leadership is it’s not exclusive to the idea of “leadership” in the business/corporate sense. These are 5 ways to create more ease in your everyday. In your home, your heart, your head… and work! They are tools that exist within you right now. So maybe you aren’t good at connecting with others or figuring out what simple pleasures make you happy. The point is once you become aware of these 5 elements and how they can elevate the joy and peace in your life, you start to make choices intuitively that point you in the right direction.
So if you’re in the midst of a crisis, sit in the knowing that the pain just may be a doorway leading you somewhere new. It takes courage to step through it and even more to avoid backsliding. When you step through and into new ways of “being,” it’s a bit scary as you navigate through the dark and sometimes scary hallway. Fear, confusion, and indecision want to lure you back to the “safety” of outdated habits and beliefs…. but soldier on my friend. That hallway between yesterday and tomorrow is where the growth and the grit of life exists and through it you will find a new doorway into a new world.
Circling back to the beginning of this week’s blog, I guess the point is not trying to force doors open or shut… but simply to accept what is out of your control and focusing your energy on what you can change.
So my wish for you is that your inner flame roars magnificently. What is an inner flame? It’s that part of you where everything begins. Your creativity, your inspiration, your joy… all the feelings you want to feel.
When you shower it with things like guilt, regret, judgment, and hatred it becomes a tiny flicker.
If, however, you choose to lovingly feed it simple pleasures, courage, trust, and self-care…it builds into a roar.